Animating Howl

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In yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, I chat with artist Eric Drooker about animating Allen Ginsberg’s Howl for the film of the same name as the long poem, and his resulting new book, Howl: A Graphic Novel.

One thing that was edited out of my piece was this sentence: “Howl: A Graphic Novel reads like a panoramic urban altar, demanding something deeper than just the reader’s attention.” Maybe readers are afraid of sacrifice?

One thing that the critics keep forgetting to mention about the movie is that it offers a chance to experience the poem in more than full form, with certain sections repeated. The film would have been stronger clocking in at 60 instead of 90 minutes, and The New Yorker is right that the issues in the obscenity trial feel “woefully dated,” but James Franco gives a vibrant performance and the overall experience of the film is a heightened experience of the poem. In my book, that’s something to celebrate.


Rumpus contributing editor Ari Messer was a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Bay Guardian from 2006-2010. Here is his web life. More from this author →