Sunday, May 16, 2010

Romeo and Juliet Reincarnated in a Comic Book

My head is still reeling from Shakespeare's immortal R & J Twitterized as described in my blog of April 17, 2010, and I've found a new twist to the old tale.  Kill Shakespeare is a new comic book in which some of the most striking characters from Shakespeare's plays are revamped, brought together at the same time, and divided into two warring camps.  Will they kill William Shakespeare?  Is Shakespeare the purveyor of good?  Does he really exist as a person, or is he a god?
The comic book Romeo and Juliet are both very different from the same characters in Shakespeare's play.

Juliet has a new personal history. Her own attempt at suicide failed, and she is ashamed of Romeo's presumed death. She is now totally dedicated to fighting for the oppressed, and she leads the resistance against the evil King Richard III.

Romeo, contrary to Juliet's belief, did not die.  He was rescued by the Priest of Verona and raised by the clergy to devote his life to Shakespeare the Creator.  Like Juliet, Romeo is determined to kill the evil Richard III.

Romeo and Juliet are joined by Hamlet, Othello, Fallstaff, and Puck and opposed by Lady Macbeth, Iago, and  King Richard III, himself.
The comic book was released for sale in April 2010, and its sale is being promoted in a very modern fashion, via its own website and much ado on social websites.  You can get the latest news updates and people's comments on Twitter at  @killshakespeare or on the website itself.  One commenter said that he/she loved the idea of 5 Minute Marvels, taking 5 minutes a day to draw superheroes with your children.  I suppose that this is great for parents who have only 5 minutes a day to spend on quality time with their children.  Another advantage of this approach is building skill in speed drawing.  

How good or bad is the idea of reincarnating Shakespeare's plays in new formats such as Twitter and comic books?  After all, Shakespeare's plays were adapted into other art forms, including opera (Otello), ballet (Romeo and Juliet), and music (Romeo and Juliet, once by Tchaikovsky and again by Prokofiev).  The opera, ballet, and music were inspired by Shakespeare's plays and were expressions of the story, characters, and emotions in the plays.  The Twitter and comic book adaptations are linked to Shakespeare's plays very tenuously, and I certainly would not call them works of art.  In fact, I view them as jokes, ways of using contemporary technology to create or promote forms of entertainment which are definitely not works of art.

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