Having agreed to make a poster for the next Open Illustration forum, I suggested the name Metamorphosis to fit in with the header ‘ Interpretation and adaption in Illustration’. I saw this as also fitting into my work on b-movies because of films such as The Fly or The Wolfman. Transformation, mutation and metamorphosis are at the heart of many good fantasies.

Wikipedia says this about metamorphosis

Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal’s body structure through cell growth and differentiation. Some insectsamphibiansmolluscscrustaceansCnidariansechinodermsand tunicatesundergo metamorphosis, which is usually accompanied by a change of habitat or behavior.

The Metamorphosis is a novella by Franz Kafka ( first published 1915 ), it tells the story of a hardworking man ( Gregor Samsa ) who wakes up one day transformed into an awful vermin, possibly an insect . His initial struggle to just get out of bed begins a story of self realisation and social commentary.

There is an excellent made for TV version of a screenplay ( adapted by Steven Berkoff )  Metamorphosis (  1987 ) starring Tim Roth as Gregor Samsa. It’s worth watching for Tim Roths excellent acting as a repulsive insect.

Tim Roth as Gregor Samsa

Some Illustrations based on Metamorphosis

Peter Kupa

Robert Crumb

Luis Scafati

Katie Evans

Eda Akalton

Aimee Johnson

Inspired by the Metamorphosisstarring Tim Roth I started making rough outlines of my hands and trying to suggest metamorphosis, the film very cleverly uses silhouettes and shadow.

Later I found this image by an unknown artist at The American Nicaraguan School ( ) which i find very beautiful.

The Fly ( 1958 ) remains a horror classic about a mans metamorphosis into part fly. It spawned a sequel then a remake ( 1986 ) and another sequel.

Coloured stills from The Fly (  1958 )

I made some sketches of film stars, here is Diana Dors and Vincent Price.

This is Charlie Chaplin ( The Tramp ) as a butterfly.

In this one I gave him a briefcase and an apple, the apple is a reference to Kafka ( an apple is thrown into Gregor Samsas back in the story ) and might the briefcase suggest that the tramp is actually now a working man.

This is Charlie Chaplin as a Werewolf / Vampire.


One thought on “Metamorphosis

  1. LMWhitt

    Any idea where one could find a copy of Roth’s performance as Samsa? I’ve searched the Net high and low to no avail. There are only a couple small YouTube clips, sadly.


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