Presenting the Graphic Novelization of my David Foster Wallace Thesis Paper


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Exciting news: a brand new self-publishing faction* will be releasing a fully inclusive graphic novelization of Daniel Adamson’s excellent Oberlin College honor’s English thesis, “The Year of the David Foster Wallace: Themes and Thoughts Through The Pages of ‘Infinite Jest.’” Mr. Adamson graduated three years ago, and his full thesis has been in Oberlin’s thesis library that entire time, but, unbelievably, no one has ever checked it out. In fact, Mr. Adamson went there last month to see if his old advisor would write him a recommendation for a job (she literally NEVER answers her e-mail), and he noticed that his thesis appeared to have never even been opened.

The thing is, Mr. Adamson worked really, REALLY hard on that thesis. He pretty much failed his requisite Geology class because he was pulling all-nighters finishing it. People have said that just reading “Infinite Jest” is a feat to be celebrated, and not only did Mr. Adamson read it, but he wrote 74 pages (including bibliography) of unique and groundbreaking ideas surrounding the book’s manifold themes. It is no less than a tragedy that a work like this would be so painstakingly composed, only to sit on a shelf in the Oberlin thesis library untouched.

That’s why we’ve decided to translate this unsung analytical treasure into the universally digestible graphic novel format. Mr. Adamson’s friend Julie did a semester at CalArts (she said it wasn’t really worth it because they kind of smothered her vision there), and she’s agreed to interpret the thesis in whimsical-but-thought-provoking digital images. Julie is really good at Photoshop: she did a political meme last year of Newt Gingrich as an actual newt that almost went viral.

Mr. Adamson got into David Foster Wallace when he was just 18 years old. At first, he was just a fan of the nonfiction stuff, but then he started branching out into reading some longer works. In this thesis paper, Mr. Adamson unapologetically teases out some of the more controversial themes in “Infinite Jest,” such as “love” and “addiction.”

While it is true that Mr. Adamson only got a B- on the final draft, he thinks that David Foster Wallace would have probably only gotten a B- on many of his essays if he had turned them in to the honors’ English board at Oberlin. Frankly, the stuffy and over-the-hill faculty at Oberlin don’t really “get” this kind of thing. They’re too preoccupied with obsolete and out-of-date works of literature, such as “The Iliad” and “Howl.”

The book will be half-composed of abstract images, and half-composed of portraits of Mr. Adamson saying some of his ideas as talk bubbles. This will allow readers to really feel like they are interacting with Mr. Adamson, without losing the analytic and conceptual feel of the thesis. The author is still deciding whether the book will be in color or black-and-white. It was supposed to be all color, but Mr. Adamson didn’t realize how expensive color printing is! It actually costs like five times as much as black-and-white printing!

On the other hand, it feels pretty important that readers have a good sense of what Mr. Adamson looks like. For instance, he’s got sort of a dark-and-handsome thing going on, but you’d be surprised to find out that he actually has blue eyes. Maybe there will be a color photo of him on the back of the book. This hasn’t been decided yet.

One exciting feature of the book is that there will be a Frequently Asked Questions section in the back, which will include some hypothetical questions people might ask about Mr. Adamson’s thesis. That part is going to be really cool and groundbreaking: Julie said she could draw some fictional people asking the questions in talk bubbles, and then there will be drawings of Mr. Adamson answering the questions. An example question is, “Do you think thatDavid Foster Wallace was a genius or just crazy?” Another example question is, “Do you, Daniel Adamson, see yourself as sort of a modern David Foster Wallace for the Millennial generation?” That one would probably have a drawing of a kind of skinny girl with a bandana and a shy-but-tough smile asking the question.

If this publication goes well, the self-publishing press will likely engage in an extended series of graphic novelizations of Mr. Adamson’s lesser known works, including “Blog from 4/11/10 to 9/01/10,” “E-mails to My [Ex]-Girlfriend Matilda,” and “Poems: An Assorted Collection.” There are probably other things that Mr. Adamson could publish, too, if he spent some time looking. He knows that his mom saved all his high school English papers in this plastic box in the basement, but he doesn’t like to go home too often, because she’s always asking him what he’s going to do with his life.


* The new press is still deciding on a name. It is either going to be Deleted Puppies Press, Cotton&Lamp&Dinosaur&SpilledCoffee, or Coltrane (after the late jazz musician, who more people should listen to). Sophie Lucido Johnson is the editor-in-chief of Neutrons Protons

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