norman lebrecht

September 08, 2023

The tragic history of The Emperor of Atlantis is well-known. Composed by Viktor Ullmann with writer Peter Kien while prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, the children’s opera was suppressed by Nazi guards before it could be performed. All involved were put on a train to Auschwitz, most to their deaths.

From today’s press release:

This fall, Berger Books and Dark Horse Comics are proud to present their story in a form that the two authors never imagined: as a riveting graphic novel that combines dystopian sci-fi, mythic fantasy, and zombie horror to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

DEATH STRIKES: THE EMPEROR OF ATLANTIS is written by Electronic Frontier Foundation Director of Investigations Dave Maass and illustrated by Patrick Lay, and features character designs by Ezra Rose and lettering by Richard Bruning. The graphic novel’s extensive back section will include a historical essay on the opera’s creators, the horrific circumstances in which it was created, and the unlikely path of the composition’s survival. The book also includes Kien’s artwork, photographs, and more.

“Written in a concentration camp, Peter Kien and Viktor Ullmann’s opera is the truest form of artistic resistance, a middle finger to the Nazis and all authoritarians across history,” said writer Dave Maass. “By adapting this fierce, genre-blending satire, we hope to introduce this nearly lost masterpiece to new audiences–and to challenge the tyrants of today.”

“We’ve incorporated Peter Kien’s own incredible artwork, excellent character designs by Ezra Rose and the architecture of Terezín and Prague to craft visuals draped in passing shadows, smoke and vapor,” said artist Patrick Lay. “From the book’s ’Realm of the Unreal’ to the streets of Atlantis, the history of resistance against oppression and censorship is ingrained in the world.”



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By mrtrv

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