Shakespeare’s influence can be seen everywhere…but that doesn’t mean that he is easy to understand or enjoy. Whether you already enjoy Shakespeare or have had problems with Shakespeare’s plays, why not check out a graphic novel? A frozen play, if you will.
Gareth Hinds has illustrated and adapted a number of
Shakespeare’s plays. I picked up several of them without knowing he was the creator of so many Shakespearean
graphic novels, and I started with The Merchant of Venice. As a play I had never read or watched before, I would say this was the perfect introduction. He sets the style in modern Venice, giving it a newer feel. It’s a comedy and while the ending may be predictable, it is still a thoroughly enjoyable read. The other novel by Hinds I read was The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. The classic tale that many are already familiar with but using multiracial characters. The artwork is beautiful and colorful, and Hinds stays close to the original text.
A new look for Shakespeare comes from a series called Manga Shakespeare. Richard Appignanesi adapts the text and a number of illustrators create the drawings in the style of manga using modern Japan as a template. As You Like It, illustrated by Chi Kukutsuwada, is the one that jumped out the most for me. It didn’t take me long to get involved in the story, but that may be because it is my favorite play by the Bard. The new style is exciting and despite having watched and read it in a variety of different formats, I was able to glean new insights into the play. Any of the other Manga Shakespeare graphic novels we have would be a great introduction to the series as well.
Now if you want to go down an entirely different route, I would suggest Kill Shakespeare by Conor McCreery. This series draws on many of Shakespeare’s plays and in the first volume, Hamlet takes center stage — he will either save everyone or doom them. Will Shakespeare is a mythic person ruling this world by his quill. Some, like Richard III, wish him dead. Others view him as a god and want to save him, like the rebel leader Juliet Capulet. This will be a fun read for those who are familiar with Shakespeare’s works as well as those who are not. I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked it up, but I enjoyed it and already have the next volume on hold.
If, like me, you feel that Shakespeare plays should be viewed instead of read, then I recommend these graphic novels as a nice in-between. They are also a wonderful introduction to Shakespeare as well. I guess I just recommend them in general!
~posted by Meranda