Cartoonist John Atkinson of Wrong Hands has a playful way of describing some of literature’s most celebrated works. Known for his Abridged Classics series, he shares humorous “spoilers” of novels including The Catcher in the Rye and 1984. His very brief reports of the books are pared down to their most basic and boast a biting, dry wit. Of George Orwell’s 1984, for instance, Atkinson sums it up with the following: “Vision of a dystopian future (now called Tuesday).”
The inspiration for Abridged Classics and its spinoff comics came a few years ago when Atkinson stumbled across the results of a survey. “It revealed that around 60% of people pretend to have read books they haven’t and around 40% rely on movies and TV to feign knowledge of classic novels,” he recalls to My Modern Met. “That coupled with our ongoing obsession with ‘tweet-culture’ got me to thinking that it might be a funny idea to help everyone out and provide synopses of classic books suitable for dinner parties and awkward social functions.” The illustrations will make you laugh, but don’t forget to read the books, too. “I’m always quick to tell students not to use them as book reports unless the want a solid D- or an F,” Atkinson says.
In 2018, Abridged Classics was turned into a book of the same name. Atkinson has continued to make comics about literature with spoilers of Dickens novels, Shakespeare plays, and more. He’s even ventured from writing topics onto artists. Scroll down to enjoy his comical illustrations.