Q&A about the Graphic Diary

What is the Graphic Diary?

The Graphic Diary is an adaptation of Anne Frank’s original text and selected dialogues that is based on the diary. The Graphic Diary was written, compiled, and illustrated by Ari Folman and David Polonsky. 

The diary of Anne Frank is a contemporary document. Why are you now publishing a graphic version?

When the Anne Frank Fonds decided, together with the family, to publish a graphic diary in the year 2009, two questions were paramount: How can we reach a young readership in the future in their own language, without making concessions in terms of the work and the persons mentioned in it; and, how can the readers’ edition continue to reach young people?

How can a reading audience of today be reached with a historical text?

The definitive readers’ edition is to this day read worldwide. In recent years, the readership has even grown, especially in countries where there has been new interest in Anne Frank lately. At the same time, a change is occurring in the behavior of readers. The youth of today are socialized differently and are growing up in a different historical context and with a different educational background. Due to the Internet, images are becoming increasingly important. This is the reason for the graphic diary edition with original texts, illustrations, and images.

Why is the book being published now?

We developed the project with a view towards the 70th anniversary of the diary's publication. The diary was initially published in 1947, and Anne Frank began writing the diary 75 years ago. In view of this, we wanted to create a new genre: the graphic diary. That is, a documentary testimony with dramatic elements. In this respect, it is definitely a world premiere.

What does the family of Anne Frank say about the Graphic Diary?

The family has supported and promoted the publication from the start, because this form corresponds with the written and oral tradition that had been running through the family all along.


What is to be understood as the new genre of a “Graphic Diary”?

The diary is a historic source and not a novel. The graphic diary recognizes and respects this character. Thus, it was important to remain faithful to the text, preserve the integrity of the individuals and history as well as the facts. At the same time, however, it was also clear that exaggerations, condensing and narrative solutions are necessary. 

The diary is a contemporary document and not a novel. Can a graphic diary live up to the original?

The graphic diary is a graphic solution with the objective of capturing the original and the time in which it originated. At the same time, this graphic adaptation is a condensation. It is not a scholarly edition, but is based on research. In this respect, the graphic diary differs from the genre of the “graphic novel”, and also from the many investigative, documentary graphic releases of contemporary political topics, as it were.

What content is illustrated by the Graphic Diary?

The Graphic Diary re-enacts the original text, based on Anne Frank's letters to Kitty and the date structure in the diary, from the first to the last entry. The Graphic Diary brings these letters to life in its connection of the text and the images, reads between the lines, interprets, and condenses.

You include many of the letters in their entirety in the book. Why?

Anne Frank possessed noteworthy narrative skills and a sharp power of observation; these make the diary as meaningful beyond its role as a historical testimonial. We want to feature this, and it is for this reason that we started this genre — so that we can retain the diary as a contemporary document and preserve the character of the original. The Graphic Diary works with a lot of original text, which is unusual for such a book. But for us, this was the only way for the diary to retain its integrity and authenticity. It is thus not a graphic novel about Anne or the Frank family, but rather, it is effectively the diary in a graphic form.

What precisely happens in the book?

The story and the tales in the diary are recounted. The Graphic Diary develops the narrative in the text along the lines of the text and dates in the diary of Anne Frank. In addition, the team worked through the archives of the family, historical archives, and many other sources. Not only is there a creative effort behind every illustration, but also a lot of research that resulted in the illustrations and ultimately, the narrative plot.

How did you decide on the illustrations and visualization?

In form, coloration and tradition the illustrations are set in the time of the text's origination.

Is Anne Frank‘s text reflected in the book?

The Graphic Diary contains indeed a very high percentage of the original text, either in form of fully reproduced letters or in the voice-overs. The dialogues were written on the basis of the original text, research and, of course, the creative approach of the authors.


How did you put together the team of authors?

It rapidly became clear: The Graphic Diary must be thought of as a kind of film. And therefore, from the beginning we pulled together a team with this experience. The graphic narrative follows the structure of a movie. Given that it is the content, and not the genre that is of primary importance, the responsible parties should also bring in their personal experience with the contemporary history. Expertise, respect, and personal experience form the framework of the project.

How did you approach the realization of the project?

This first involved addressing the text. It was clear that we had to condense the original text and at the same time retain the storyline. The advantage of the graphic diary is that, in visual imagery, many elements in the text such as feelings, humor and imagination provide many more insights into the text itself. The illustrations sometimes exaggerate the text, make it emotionally tangible, and also provide a picture of what Anne Frank wrote “between the lines” or only implied. 

How many liberties were the authors allowed with the text?

There was one major guideline: To respect the authenticity and integrity of the work and real persons and to honestly reflect the text of Anne Frank.

The Graphic Diary also has fictional elements. Is that legitimate?

These elements are dramatic, but never fictional; they originate from, or are based on the original text in the diary. Depicted is what takes place when reading the texts, and what Anne Frank wrote in terms of dreams, emotions and wishes. 

On which language edition is the text based?

The authors worked with the Dutch original version and the English translations. The translations of the Graphic Diary rely on the respective, original translation as well as the Dutch original. Therefore, the Graphic Diary can be read in all languages along with the long-standing readers’ edition.

Who else contributed to the book?

Besides Ari Folman and David Polonsky, a team of historians, experts, archivists, editors and translators, as well as another team of colorists, storyboarders and additional technical staff were working on this.

Where was the book developed?

Mainly in Israel, Switzerland, the USA, and of course to a certain extent in the Frank's hometown of Frankfurt and their emigration destination, Amsterdam.

In 2019, an animated movie will come out. Will this be an adaptation of the Graphic Diary?

No. The projects are not related to each other either in terms of content nor visually. The movie tells a story with and of Anne Frank. The Graphic Diary is the diary in graphic form.


What is the readers’ edition of the Anne Frank diary?

The readers’ edition combines the diaries of Anne Frank in one comprehensive volume. It is translated worldwide as the definitive edition and was compiled by Mirjam Pressler. It replaces the edition from 1947, which traced back to an abridged, different compilation of the texts. 

Does the Graphic Diary replace the readers’ edition?

Not at all. The readers’ edition is and remains the principal work of Anne Frank. We ensure that it will remain available worldwide in an unabridged form, in its entirety, and in good translations at reasonable prices. The Graphic Diary ought to serve as an introduction or for additional reading, but the readers’ edition is and remains a fixed element of school literature. The Graphic Diary is to be understood as a supplement.

How does the Graphic Diary differ from the readers’ edition, apart from the graphic form?

The readers’ edition comprises the full text of the diaries of Anne Frank. In the Graphic Diary, the text is considerably condensed. On the one hand, some of the letters from Anne Frank to Kitty are integrally reproduced in the narrative. On the other hand, the diary is reflected in voice-overs and the resulting dramatized dialogues in the speech bubbles. 

For whom is the Graphic Diary intended?

For an international young readership from the age of 12 years. Of course, it is also intended for adults who at one time grew up with the diary and who can now once again experience it in a new form. 

Does the book also exist in digital form?

Yes. The book will exist in digital formats in most territories. 

Which are the different editions of the diary?

There is the worldwide definitive and authorized readers’ edition. That is the edition that can be found around the world and that is read in schools. Furthermore, since 2013, all of the texts of Anne Frank have been combined in a collected works edition. This edition appears on an ongoing basis in new translations and is directed towards senior-level pupils, teachers and students. It will be published this year in French and English. Moreover, the new “Scholarly Critical Edition of the Anne Frank Diaries”, an academic edition with new translations, is soon to be published. 


Is the family of Anne Frank supportive of the Graphic Diary?

Since the beginning, Anne Frank’s cousin Buddy Elias supported the decision on behalf of the diary in this narrative form and showed a strong commitment for the idea over the course of time. This is because he saw that he could thereby fulfill an important last will of his uncle Otto Frank: reaching as wide a circle of readers as possible. Anne Frank Fonds (which Buddy Elias chaired until his death in 2015) and the family place an emphasis on preserving the authenticity of the text above all else. At the same time, it was clear for Buddy Elias, who was himself a gifted narrator and actor, that this form can appeal to the youth of today at their level. It also manages to juxtapose the very prevalent humor and imagination in the family with the known sad and serious context of the story.

Why did Anne Frank's father establish the Anne Frank Fonds in 1963?

Otto Frank wanted to ensure that the diary be published worldwide in a thoughtful and responsible manner, and that the proceeds from the book entirely flow back into society or into projects of organizations that promote education, dialogue, and coexistence, etc. This is why he appointed the Fonds as his worldwide universal heir. It is the only organization that Otto Frank ever founded and also managed. 

The Anne Frank Fonds is the universal heir of the family. What does that mean?

The Anne Frank Fonds ensures that the estate of the family is being professionally safeguarded in the archives. As the copyright holder of the texts, the organization licenses these to partner publishers in worldwide, authorized, well-translated editions. The Anne Frank Fonds grants licenses for dramatizations in the performing arts. It promotes scholarly investigations of the history and archives and promotes their dissemination on behalf of training and educational projects. Moreover, the organization represents the family. 

What happens with the proceeds from book sales or licenses?

The Anne Frank Fonds donates all proceeds to charities around the world for educational or scholarly work. Furthermore it funds projects for promoting the story, in the effort to fight discrimination against minorities, for the rights of children, and for heightening awareness against anti-Semitism. The Foundation Board of the Anne Frank Fonds works on an honorary basis.