REVIEW: Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards Will Fascinate Film Buffs

Enough has been said about the brilliance of Bong Joon-ho’s Best Picture-winning film Parasite. We don’t need to repeat our praise of its narrative ingenuity, tonally perfect directing and thought-provoking class commentary. If by some chance you’re reading this review and still have not seen the movie, boot it up on Hulu and return to this page in two hours and 12 minutes. Unless you simply can’t watch movies with subtitles, you have no excuse not to watch it.

Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards, being published by Grand Central Publishing on the one year anniversary of the movie‘s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, is a worthwhile read for fans of the movie who are interested in the nitty-gritty of the filmmaking process. It is not a substitute for the film, nor does it really hold up on its own as a “graphic novel” in the traditional sense. However, for those familiar with the film, it’s an intriguing way to revisit the story.

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Bong Joon-ho explains in the book’s foreword that his directing process is based on storyboarding every shot of scene before he starts filming it. Not every director is so extensive with storyboarding if they even bother with it at all, and its this extensiveness that makes this book possible. A storyboard, however, is not a comic, and is decidedly not a complete work. It’s a complicated blueprint, filled with interesting details about the cinematography, but as laid out on the page alongside the screenplay, it doesn’t flow as easily to read as an actual graphic novel would.

Bong’s artwork is also a lot rougher and more inconsistent than you’d expect in something originally intended to be published as a graphic novel, though that roughness is part of the charm. Depending on the scene, the drawings can shift from cute caricatures that wouldn’t feel out of place in a gag manhwa to scribbles just showing the direction of action; occasionally photographs or more detailed drawings appear as well. Reading the story of Parasite in this way accentuates its comedic aspects, which were already strong in the film but here come off as the main driving force.

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The finished movie sticks really close to the script and storyboards presented here, though there are some minor but interesting differences fans will note. Two details stand out as particularly noteworthy: three hilarious extended verses worth of lyrics to the “Jessica, Only Child” jingle, and the presentation of an alternate treatment to the film’s evocative final shot.

The book also contains some more in-depth concept art pieces, as well as production stills from the finished film. This is definitely more a purchase for the film geeks crowd than the comic geeks crowd, but it’s impossible to complain about the chance to read Parasite‘s Oscar-winning script with this informative visual accompaniment.

Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards is on sale May 19.

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Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards is a worthwhile read for fans of the movie who are interested in the nitty-gritty of the filmmaking process.

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