Yesterday on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation host Neil Conan, a self professed comic book geek, interviewed Conor McCreery and Anthony del Col co-writers of Kill Shakespeare a 12 book series that came out last month. The idea behind the series is to write a story that pits many of the heroes and villains of Shakespeare against each other when King Richard dupes Hamlet into hunting down and killing a man named William Shakespeare. McCreery and del Col came up with the idea while watching Kill Bill. As I listened to the interview I became excited by the idea of reading and seeing a combined story centered on the Bards plays.
McCreery and del Col, after coming up with the idea, felt the ideal format for their work (besides cinema) would be a graphic book. As McCreery explains in the interview, Shakespeare wanted his work to be seen and experienced and that comic books mesh the visual with the words. Both writers hope that high school students will become interested in Shakespeare and adults will become interested in comics; or at least enjoy Shakespeare in a new form.
As a big Shakespeare fan I fell for the writers’ idea and on my lunch break went over to the local comic book store to pick up the first book. Lucky for me the owner of the store was just about to place next month’s order; he was not going to order any more but because I bought the first book the next two will be on their way soon. Sadly, I am the only person who bought the first. I ended up buying two. I gave one to a co-worker who loves comics and good books. We will see what he thinks of this attempt to gain new Shakespeare admirers.
The plot is fairly simple: after being banished from Denmark Hamlet finds himself shipwrecked in a strange land. King Richard rescues him and offers Hamlet shelter. The king tells Hamlet it has been prophesized by the king’s three seers (think witches of Mac Beth) that Hamlet with save Richard’s land. All Hamlet has to do is hunt a man down named William Shakespeare and steal his quill. As a reward Richard promises Hamlet his father will be brought back from the dead. Hamlet agrees not knowing he really has to kill Shakespeare. Along Hamlet’s quest McCreery and del Col promise the readers will see everyone from Lady Mac Beth to Puck.
I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon so as I waited I picked up the comic. It probably took me about 10 minutes to read it, but only 5 to fall in love with the drawings and the story. Oh how I wish this was a graphic novel! I would have read it in one sitting! The graphics are very well done and the story pulls you right in. I highly recommend finding this series.
For more here is the link to the interview and official Kill Shakespeare website: