Showing posts with label Shakespeare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shakespeare. Show all posts

Friday, June 07, 2019

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Sarah Boxer

Boxer and Powder Wash
by Mike Rhode

Earlier this year, Sarah Boxer interviewed Jaime Hernandez at Politics and Prose bookstore. Until that evening, I had no idea that she lived in Washington (as she's a regular writer for New York-based publications), let alone that she was a cartoonist. We chatted briefly, and she's answered our usual questions -- extremely well as you'd expect from a professional essayist.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I do long-form comics (books). Since I don't like drawing human beings, all my comics have animals rather than humans in them. And most of them play as much with language and ideas as with line. In fact some of my comics, particularly my psycho-comics, Mother May I? and In the Floyd Archives, both have footnotes. And I've recently finished Hamlet: Prince of Pigs, a comic-books version of Hamlet; it's full of visual puns, beginning with the fact that Ham-let is a little ham, a pig!

Tomorrow, June 8, is the publication date for Mother May I?: A Post-Floydian Folly and the date for the republication of In the Floyd Archives: A Psycho-Bestiary. I'll be at Politics and Prose on July 13 at 1 pm.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I've worked mostly in pen or pencil in smallish (8x5) Strathmore notebooks. But recently the difficulty and expense of transferring paper to a publishable digital form makes me think I need to give up pen and paper. This upsets my son, who is also a cartoonist and insists that paper and pencil are best. But I find drawing on a tablet relaxing. It's easy to erase and fix small details and work on nuances of facial expression. The only snag was once losing all of my saved drawings on a Samsung Tablet. I have since switched tablets.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s in Colorado and published my first comic (a single panel of an elf in a snowstorm) at age 11 in my local newspaper.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved from New York to Washington eleven years ago with my husband and son, because my husband, Harry Cooper, got a job as the curator of Modern Art at the National Gallery. We now live in Cleveland Park, not far from the zoo, so I have lots of live models.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I was raised on Peanuts and went to college in Krazy Kat. Seriously, though, I don't have a lot of formal training in cartooning. I remember taking only one cartooning class, at Parsons. (R.O. Blechman came to speak to us.) But I've done a lot of life drawing (at the Art Students League, Parsons, the New York Academy of Art).  By far, the most absorbing drawing instruction I ever had was the Drawing Marathon at the Studio School. (I wrote up my experience in The New York Times.) I remember that one of the huge drawings I made over a week's time had a little cartoonish figure up on a ladder and Graham Nickson, the teacher who led the crits, asked, pointedly, "What happened here?"

Mother May I? page
Who are your influences?

I wouldn't call them influences, but the cartoonists I admired most as a kid were Charles Schulz, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, R.O. Blechman, JJ Sempé, and George Herriman. Ach, I see they're all men! I wish I could change history, but I can't.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I guess I'd be born a boy. 

What work are you best-known for?

If anyone knows me for my comics, it's got to be for my first psycho-comic, In the Floyd Archives: A Psycho-Bestiary, based on Freud's case histories, which Pantheon published in 2001. (It's now being republished.) But it's likelier that people know me for my writing. I was at The New York Times for 16 years. There I was a photography critic, book review editor, and arts reporter. And since all my editors at the Times knew I especially loved comics, I got to write the obituaries for Saul Steinberg and Charles Schulz. I also got to interview Art Spiegelman when the second volume of Maus came out. And I got to sit in William Steig's orgone box

As a freelance writer, I still often write about comics. Last year I wrote an essay for The Atlantic about why it's so hard for cartoonists to lampoon Trump, and this October my Atlantic essay "The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy" will appear in the book The Peanuts Papers. I have also written quite a lot about comics for The New York Review of Books. My first essay there was on Krazy Kat and my most recent piece there was a review of Jason Lutes's epic, Berlin.

What work are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of my new psycho-comic Mother May I? I like that it's loose and rigorous at the same time. And I am tickled beyond belief that both Alison Bechdel and Jonathan Lethem are fans of it! I'm also proud that some selections from my first tragic-comic Hamlet: Prince of Pigs were published by the NYR Daily.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I'm looking forward to diving into drawing my next Shakespearean tragic-comic Anchovius Caesar: The Decomposition of a Romaine Salad, in which Julius Caesar is an anchovy and all the action takes place underwater.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I write when I have drawer's block; and I draw when I have writer's block.

What do you think will be the future of your field? 
Mother May I? page

I think the future of comics is online. The experience of trying to get a nice clean copy of Mother May I? set for publication made me realize that I need a very good tablet with a pen, so I don't ever have to go through the copy process again. That's how I composed Hamlet: Prince of Pigs. I find using a tablet very liberating. It's easier to change little expressions on the faces of my characters. It's nice not to have a lap full of eraser dust. And in the end, it's much easier to get my comic to a publisher or printer!

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I go every year to the Small Press Expo with my (now 15-year-old) son, Julius Boxer-Cooper, who's also a cartoonist, and this year I am sharing an exhibitor's table (or rather a half-table) with him. In school he hands out zines -- or, as he calls them, cackets (short for comics-packets) to his classmates. Here are his words of wisdom for would-be cartoonists:  "If you're going to be a 'zine cartoonist, then you're going to have to get used to seeing your comics torn, crumpled, thrown on the ground, thrown in the recycling, or thrown in the trash with strawberry or raspberry Gogurt that's a few weeks old dumped over them." I admire his toughness! And his comics! 

For our debut at SPX, Julius and I are working on our first collaboration -- a comic called Corgi Morgue, which is about a corgi (that's a dog) and his wife (also a dog) who run a morgue for animals and also serve Indian food, particularly coorgi murgh, to their grieving clients.

Boxer & Jaime Herandez
What's your favorite thing about DC?

I love that the museums, the zoos, and many of the musical performances are free. I'm proud of the protests against our horrible president. I also love the racial openness and relative harmony of DC. They are rarities in this country.

Least favorite?

I despise our very orange very nasty President in the very very white White House.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

I love taking people to the East Wing of the National Gallery, especially the rooms devoted to Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I'd rather eat in New York. 

Do you have a website or blog?

I wrote a book about blogging and how I'd never do it, Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web. So now I feel I have an obligation never to blog. But I do have a website. It's sarahboxer.weebly.com . 

(updated 6/8/19 with Mr. Cooper's name and correcting the SPX quote)

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Gareth Hinds at Hooray for Books: "It’s got to be clear and it’s got to be dramatic"

by Mike Rhode
 
Gareth Hinds recently answered my usual interview questions, but a few days later I was lucky enough to attend his 'chalk talk' at Hooray for Books in Old Town Alexandria. With 45 minutes of speaking and drawing, he covered much more ground than the basic interview questions, so I transcribed highlights of the talk, and illustrated it with photographs. (More can be found here).

Hinds’ first graphic novel was a thesis project at Parsons School of Design. It was about a man who made a deal with the devil and wore a bearskin. The story is one of the more obscure Brothers Grimm fairy tales. “I took this fairy tale which is only two pages long in its original form, and did most of the storytelling visually, with very few words in it, and so it ended up being an 80-page graphic novel. I didn't finish it until after I was out of school.” The Xeric Foundation gave him a grant to self-publish Bearskin which came out in 1998. “That was my opportunity to learn how publishing worked, and all the different parts of putting a book out – how to get it ready for press, how to write press releases, how to get distribution and get it in stores…” Hinds then worked in the video game industry for a decade, doing all types of art including character design and 3-D modeling.

His next book was “closer to the mainstream of comics, which is to say the superhero genre, and is about a warrior who has the strength of thirty men and goes around fighting monsters.” That was Beowulf. “When I’m drawing a graphic novel, the first thing I do is sketch it out very rough. I now do these rough drawings digitally, and then I would do a finished drawing with traditional materials. I would transfer my digital drawing onto a piece of watercolor, or other heavy paper and do a finished drawing on top of it.” “I chose to draw Grendel as metallic, because in the story it says he’s immune to weapons, and that’s the reason Beowulf had to wrestle with him and not fight him with a sword. In the battle scene in my book, I have him wearing hand wraps, almost like he’s a boxer getting into the ring.”

Candlewick Press contacted Gareth and expressed interested in reissuing Beowulf and doing his next book. “I had started both King Lear and The Merchant of Venice. Together we decided that I would finish Merchant first for Candlewick; I would self-publish Lear, and they would reissue it later. It was a weird transition, going from self-publishing to having a publisher.” The characters in Merchant "are all based on real people. This book has more of a modern look to it. I decided to set this in modern-day Venice for a couple of reasons. One was so I could draw all the characters and the locations from life. The other reason is because of the anti-Semitism in the play which is a big deal. The bad guy of the story is a Jewish moneylender. I didn't want to gloss over it, and by setting the story in the modern day, it actually throws it into starker relief and makes the readers ask themselves if this is something we’re still dealing with. The particular form of anti-Semitism seen in this play we don’t have quite as much of, but we definitely have high levels of religious intolerance that are still causing problems."

“My King Lear is another visual experiment where I played around with breaking the action out of the panels and letting the characters walk around on the page as if it were a stage. The characters leave little trails and there’s also little trails connecting the balloons so you know what order to read them in. And then those little trails become the wind that becomes the storm.”

“I wanted my Lear to be really, really old. It’s always a question about how old these characters are in these stories. Shakespeare often doesn’t tell you exactly. I decided to make him quite old, but also still very hale. He clearly was a very strong fighter when he was young, and he still thinks of himself that way. He goes around blustering, and occasionally punching people. His costume is almost like a sheet. One of the things I liked was the idea that maybe he is really mad, and all of the action is occurring in his own mind, and maybe he’s an escaped mental patient and this is his hospital gown. I had this idea when I was walking into the subway station and I saw this guy who looked like King Lear, and thought it would be cool if Lear was a homeless guy who was having hallucinations.”

“My Lear is still muscular, but he’s gotten thin and old. I enjoy drawing muscular old men. The younger and prettier a character is, the more difficulty I have drawing. After King Lear, he adapted the Odyssey.The Odyssey was my favorite classic when I read it in school. As soon as I was done with Beowulf, I planned to do the Odyssey, but it was a major undertaking so I had to wait until the right time. Odysseus is a fascinating character; he’s an awesome hero. He’s strong and smart, and usually wise, but he has some flaws. He’s also an unreliable narrator. He’s telling you the story and you know that he lies. You see him lie all the time. So how much of his story is really true?”

“Most of what armor and clothing survives is from later periods of Greek history, but there’s a lot of vase and pottery paintings and often the paintings are subjects from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.” While discussing his decision to make Odysseus an ambidextrous archer, Hinds digressed to note, “Right now, I’m working on some illustrations for a non-fiction book about the famous samurai Yoshitsune Minamoto, and in that period samurai primarily fought with bows. I thought there’s an interesting parallel. Minamoto is actually a lot like Odysseus. He’s a warrior who uses his wits just as much as he uses his physical prowess. They’re both master archers. It would be fun to see them both in battle leading armies.”

“My Odysseus is a little older than most people picture him. While I am adapting a text, I spend a lot of time doodling. I’m visually brainstorming. I might draw 20 or 30 different versions of a character, before I decide which one I want. Sometimes I have a definite idea in my head for the main character. I didn’t draw a million versions of Odysseus; I pretty much knew what he looked like. Other times, like Lady Macbeth, I drew lots and lots of versions.”

Romeo and Juliet was a challenge to draw, because all the characters were young and attractive. “This is a good example of character design. Not only was I drawing lots of different versions of the characters, but Shakespeare has been reset and restaged in different time periods and cultures, so I had a lot of options. However, I’m also aware that a lot of my market is teachers and students, and they want some understanding of historical context. I decided I was going to keep this in historical Verona, but I was going to make the characters multicultural and a little more modern. Tybalt has tattoos. Everybody’s wearing boots instead of slippers. The women have their dresses cut at the knee instead of the ankle. There’s a lot of liberties that the young characters are taking with their costumes and the social conventions of the time period.”

“I decide Romeo would be this young, attractive guy who has little dreadlocks. Mercutio has big crazy dreadlocks. Everybody’s got poofy shirts. They’ve got big poofy tops on their pants. Juliet also wears boots which is definitely not something you would have historically seen. She’s got a Renaissance-style sleeve. She’s Indian, he’s African. They’re about the same height.”

When starting a book, “I will start laying out pages. Often the very first spread is a big title page. For Macbeth, I knew right away I wanted to show an island with a castle and water. Next, I started drawing the page where the witches are talking. I might not have finalized the designs and won’t draw any details on the characters. When I used to do this on paper, I drew word balloons with an approximate amount of text. Now digitally, I can see exactly how much room the text takes up which is very important for the dialogue-heavy pages where characters are talking back and forth and I have to make sure the page fits together. I play around with different compositions at this stage. I will draw three or four versions of a page; I might even draw ten versions if I’m having trouble with it. I’ll draw the whole book out in that form and show it to people including my editor. I’ll read it myself over and over, looking for places where I can make it more dramatic or clear. Those are the two main things: it’s got to be clear and it’s got to be dramatic. Those are the things I’m looking for in my rough layouts. Then I draw the finished line art for the whole book. No color, but all the detail. Typically I’ll get another round of feedback before I get color, but sometimes the color helps people see what’s going and identify issues.”

“When the final art is done, it’s scanned and dropped back into the digital page layout program I used for the rough sketches, and then all the panel borders and speech balloons are added digitally on top of the artwork so that everything is nice and clean. More importantly if anything has to change – if a balloon has to be made bigger or smaller because the text changes – that can be done very easily without touching the artwork.”

“I draw a lot out of my head, but sometimes if a pose is tricky, or the drawing isn’t coming together, I will get a reference. Often what that means is that I’ll pose myself, in a mirror or using my webcam. Sometimes if it’s a female character, I might ask my wife to pose, or look for a photo on the web, or get friends to pose as they did for all of Merchant. I don’t go shot for shot with photographs the way Alison Bechdel does; I would say I probably need reference for every third or fourth panel.” Hinds’ wife noted at this point that she came home one day and found him wearing a toga-like dress and posing, but he won’t let her show the photograph.

When it comes to deciding what book to work on, Hinds says, “It’s mostly me. I typically go to the publisher with a couple of options, and they’ll either pick one or ask which one I really want to do. They’ve been pretty good about it, but we’re both concerned about the market. They’ll ask if a book is being taught much. I picked King Lear because it was one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s, but it’s my least successful books, I think because nobody teaches or reads it in high school. Conversely, The Odyssey is my most successful, so we’re always looking for the next success. Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth are arguably the books I should have started with because those are taught all the time. The publisher doesn’t come to me, but I do get a lot of requests from teachers. Generally the publisher has been happy to do the next thing that I want to do. The next project, after the samurai book, is Edgar Allen Poe’s Stories and Poems.

When asked about all the pre-existing graphic adaptations of Poe, Hinds noted, “I worry about competition if I feel that somebody has done it well for the educational market. I don’t feel that anyone has done Poe well for that market. There’s some pretty good stuff, but it’s mostly black and white, and there’s some silly spins, which is entertaining but is not what teachers are looking for.”

“People often ask me if I’m going to do any original work. Between projects, I take a couple of weeks to a couple of months to write because I like to write and I have ideas for stories. I’m pretty critical of my writing, and like most writers I find that process can be hard and take a while, so I usually decide I need to be drawing. Eventually one of those projects will probably take off.”

When asked if he would illustrate a book written by someone else, he noted that the upcoming samurai book fits that, as an earlier children’s book, Gift from the Gods, done in the style of The Odyssey. “I’m always happy to do more of that in picture books. I don’t know if I would illustrate somebody else’s graphic novel because it so much work that I don’t know if I want to invest that kind of energy. In my ideal world, I would do a picture book in between every graphic novel. That would be a nice break. A graphic novel takes me about a year. The Odyssey is twice as long and took about 20 months.”

Regarding translations, the most recent are copyrighted, so how does he pick which one to use? “For The Odyssey, I was trying to decide which one to use, but I realized I was putting the cart before the horse. I need to start trying to write the script, and as soon as I did that, I realized I would have to completely rewrite it for brevity. I didn’t have to worry about it too much as long as I wasn’t using direct quotes from the translation. For Beowulf, both the translations I used are out of copyright. The first one I chose for my self-published version is by Francis Gummere is very very archaic and I really like it. My publisher Candlewick thought that one was a little hard, and asked if I could find another one. If I had been working on that book after Seamus Heaney’s translation came out, I probably would have tried to get it.”

When asked about writing for the educational market, Hinds said, “It’s kind of just where I landed, but the thing that feels really good is when I hear my book helped somebody get through a work they wouldn’t have otherwise read, and helped them enjoy it. That’s the big thing to me. I enjoyed them when I read them, but I know a lot of people don’t. I want to share the experience of finding the stories to be cool. In a perfect world, I would also would also sell really well in a comics store, which is the world that I came from. But it’s completely different distribution, and aesthetic. Comics purists don’t like typeset books – when I go to comics conventions, I’m this weird animal that’s neither fish nor fowl. I seem to fit more naturally into that young adult and school library marketplace, but that’s not necessarily something I picked.”

The samurai book will be out in February 2016, the Poe book at the end of 2016, and he announced, “I am under contract to do The Illiad after Poe. I’m going to try to keep it to 200 pages but it will be tough. It’ll be tough in any number of ways. I do enjoy drawing battle scenes, but it will be complicated.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

With Macbeth behind him, Gareth Hinds eyes an "impossibly long list of classic adaptations"

Gareth Hinds (all pictures from his website)
by Mike Rhode


Gareth Hinds just released Macbeth, his newest Shakespeare adaptation. He'll be introducing Macbeth tonight at the Takoma Park Library in MD, Politics and Prose in DC on March 3, and Hooray for Books in VA this Friday. Maria Russo at the New York Times just gave the book an excellent review, writing "The book feels like a remarkably faithful rendering of the world of the play. You can almost feel the damp chill of the Scottish Highlands in the silvery-green palette, and as the murdered corpses pile up, the warm oranges of the candlelit castle interiors inevitably tinge toward the blood-red at the center of the story."

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Graphic novels based on literary classics

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
Always a combination, sometimes more digital, sometimes more traditional.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
I'm from central Vermont. I was born in 1971.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?
My wife took a job at the literacy nonprofit First Book, and we moved to Takoma Park about a year and a half ago.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
I went to Parsons School of Design for illustration, but they didn't have a lot of classes on comics, so as a cartoonist I'm mostly self-taught.

Who are your influences?
Herge, Moebius, Bill Sienkiewicz, Walt Simonson, Walt Kelly, Lorenzo Matotti, Enki Bilal, Masamune Shirow and a lot of other manga artists.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

 I would have probably picked a more popular play than King Lear as my first Shakespeare outing.

What work are you best-known for? 
Beowulf and The Odyssey

What work are you most proud of?
When I look back at each book I see things to love and things to groan about. Beowulf launched my career. The Odyssey is my magnum opus (At least so far).

What would you like to do or work on in the future?
An impossibly long list of classic adaptations and original projects.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block? 
Work on something else for a bit, draw from life, meditate, doodle.



Beowulf
What do you think will be the future of your field? 
The only constant is change. However, like other media I don't think newer forms of storytelling will make comics go away, though they may become less profitable or change in terms of delivery format. I'm already doing eBooks, and I think they're still in their infancy. We're kind of still waiting for the right reading platform/device as well as a unified format. 

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them? 
I've been at SPX on and off since the mid-90s. I generally don't table, as I prefer to walk around and see what/who is there. I have been a guest at the Gaithersburg Book Fest and am going back this year. 

What's your favorite thing about DC? 
It's a lot easier to get around to things than New York, and there's more good theater (especially Shakespeare) than almost any other city but New York.

Least favorite?
Downtown is just not very interesting, apart from the museums.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to? 
Depends on who they are, but my favorite is probably The Portrait Gallery / Smithsonian Museum of Art. Particularly the Luce Center and some of the contemporary portrait shows. 

How about a favorite local restaurant? 
There are quite a few options I like, but right now probably Founding Farmers and Comet Pizza Ping Pong (right next to Politics & Prose bookstore!). 

Do you have a website or blog? 
www.garethhinds.com links to my blog, email newsletter, and social media profiles.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Oct 8-12: MacHomer at Woolly Mammoth


MacHomer, the one man show by Rick Miller that smashes together Shakespeare and the Simpsons will be in Washington on Oct 8-12, at Woolly Mammoth. A review by Nick Green is in the Washington City Paper October 1, 2008.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Comics on sale at Shakespeare Free For All

Liz, our gal on the ground, was volunteering at the Shakespeare Free For All and reported that two comic book versions of Hamlet were available last night. Coincidentally, the manga version was reviewed yesterday in Scotland in "Comic superhero muscles in on Macbeth," By Marc Horne, Scotsman 25 May 2008.

Still to come (someday) are my reviews of the Shakespeare comic books that have been appearing this year. Liz also picked up both of last night's books for me so they'll be in the mix as well.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Manga Shakespeare photos

I've got notes about the presentation that I'll try to write up soon, but here's some pictures at least. It was very interesting.

Writer Adam Sexton and artist Yali Lin, adaptors of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: The Manga Edition. Booksigning after lecture at Folger Shakespeare Library.
100_4929

100_4928

100_4927

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Folger Shakespeare Library presents Shakespeare + Manga

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2007

Press Contact:
Tim Swoape, 202.675.0344 / tswoape @folger.edu
Teri Cross Davis, 202.675.0374 / tdavis @folger.edu


Folger Shakespeare Library presents Shakespeare + Manga as part of the Words on Will lecture series

Shakespeare’s plays adapted into Japanese-style illustrated books

(WASHINGTON, DC) The plays of William Shakespeare meet the highly stylized Japanese illustration form known as manga (Japanese for “whimsical pictures”) in The Manga Editions. Writer/adaptor Adam Sexton and illustrator Yali Lin discuss their work on The Manga Editions during Shakespeare + Manga at Folger Shakespeare Library on Monday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. They will be joined by moderator Marc Singer, a comics scholar and assistant professor of English at Howard University. Their discussion is the final installment of this season’s Words on Will, a lecture series in which luminaries from across the world of arts, letters, and other fields discuss the role Shakespeare has played in their lives and work.

Tickets, which include the discussion and a reception, are $12 for adults and $6 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the Folger box office, 202.544.7077, or online at www.folger.edu/wordsonwill.

Published by Wiley, The Manga Editions present four newly adapted and fully-illustrated editions of Shakespeare’s plays: Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet. The Manga Editions are the latest in a 400-year tradition of translating and adapting Shakespeare’s plays into different languages and multiple media.

In order to fit their adaptations into books of less than 200 pages, the writers and editors of The Manga Editions have cut words, lines, speeches, and even entire scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, a practice almost universal among stage and film directors. However, they never paraphrased Shakespeare’s language or summarize the action. Every word in The Manga Editions was written by William Shakespeare himself.

According to the publisher, manga is potentially more visual than a theatrical production of Shakespeare’s plays. Unbound by the physical realities of the theater, the graphic novel can depict any situation, no matter how fantastical or violent, that its creators are able to pencil, ink, and shade.

Writer/adaptor Adam Sexton is author of Master Class in Fiction Writing and editor of the anthologies Love Stories, Rap on Rap, and Desperately Seeking Madonna. He has written on art and entertainment for The New York Times and The Village Voice, and he teaches fiction writing and literature at New York University and critical reading and writing at Parsons The New School for Design. He is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Manga illustrator Yali Lin was born in southern China and moved to New York with her family in 1995. She earned a BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts in 2006. Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, The Manga Edition is her first published work. She currently teaches cartooning and manga courses to young teens in Manhattan.

Moderator Marc Singer is an assistant professor of English at Howard University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Singer regularly reviews new works of comics scholarship for the International Journal of Comic Art, and he is the former chair of the International Comic Arts Forum, an academic conference on comics. His own research on comics has twice won the M. Thomas Inge Award for Comics Scholarship.


DATE & TIME: Monday, March 31, 2007 at 7:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Folger Theatre at Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC
TICKETS: $12 adults / $6 students; Purchase at Folger box office, 202.544.7077, or online at www.folger.edu/wordsonwill.
METRO: Capitol South (blue/orange lines)
PARKING: Street parking in neighborhood. Please read and obey all posted signs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shakespeare, comics and Star Trek

After yesterday's post on Shakespeare manga at the Folger, I was emailed a press release about a British Shakespeare comic series which was blurbed by Patrick Stewart. Stewart's on Broadway now in Macbeth, but I saw him two decades ago in DC talking about Shakespeare. Here's a letter that I sent the NY Times that they didn't run:

I was very glad to see the long Arts article, "To boldly go where Shakespeare calls" (January 27, 2008) on Patrick Stewart's return to Shakespeare. As an undergrad at George Washington University in Washington DC, I saw Mr. Stewart give a lecture on Shakespeare around 1985. The event was sponsored most likely by the English department and was in a small room in the student union. It was probably underpublicized and Mr. Stewart had not yet become famous as Capt. Picard, but his talk, "Iago and Other Strangers" was one of the best lectures on Shakespeare I've seen. It ranked favorably with Ian McKellan's one-man Shakespeare show which I saw a year or so later. I rode the elevator down with Mr. Stewart and told him how much I enjoyed it, but it still strikes me as a shame that so few saw his talk. I have often wished that he'd put out a cd of that talk.

Shakespeare adapted in comics has appeared off and on for a few decades now - mostly with uninteresting adaptations - but I've got high hopes of some of these new ones, and will try to review a series of them in the International Journal of Comic Art. I've got a bibliography of earlier attempts around somewhere too that I can post if there's any interest.

And, since they made me think about this again, here's the full PR on the British Shakespeare books:

Patrick Stewart applauds Classical Comics’ pioneering three-tier dialogue graphic novel adaptation of Macbeth

I’m fascinated by your approach... I find them gripping, dramatic and, although for me the original Shakespeare is always my reason for turning to these plays, I think that what you are doing in illuminating and making perhaps more lucid, especially for young people, is clever and meaningful - Patrick Stewart

The internationally respected actor, known for successfully bridging the gap between the theatrical world of the Shakespearean stage and contemporary film and television, has given his seal of approval to Classical Comics’ pioneering three-tier dialogue approach, in particular its forthcoming graphic novel adaptation of Macbeth. Patrick Stewart’s recent stint in Macbeth at the Gielgud Theatre in London garnered him several awards - including Best Actor at the Evening Standard Awards, and the prize for Best Shakespearean Performance at the 19th annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards (which he shares with Chiwetel Ejiofor for Othello) - and the production transferred to New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music on 12 February.

With its revolutionary three-tier dialogue approach, Classical Comics presents a brand new and inclusive view of the sheer genius of Shakespeare’s storytelling. Macbeth, arguably Shakespeare’s most dramatic tragedy, certainly one of his greatest works, features stunning artwork from Marvel/Spider-man illustrator Jon Haward and comic strip illustrator Nigel Dobbyn, and script adaptation by author John McDonald.

Each of Classical Comics’ graphic novel adaptations of literary classics is published in three versions: Original Text – the full, unabridged script; Plain Text – a modern English version of the original script; and Quick Text – with reduced, simplified dialogue for easier and faster reading. Classical Comics’ Clive Bryant explains the thinking behind this: ‘We wanted to spread a joy and appreciation of literacy, and particularly to target readers in key stages 2 and 3. Often children of that age are forced to read Shakespeare, but they struggle to get past the language. The comic book format and three text versions will undoubtedly help with their understanding. By providing these three text versions, which are all on the same artwork, we allow a reader to absorb the story at Quick Text level, proceed onto Plain English, and then onto the Original script. That way, they understand the play and can appreciate the beautiful language that Shakespeare used. We believe that we’ve created a way for readers to enjoy these fantastic stories regardless of their age or their reading ability’.

Having been told by young readers that they were bored by the Bard, Classical Comics set out to make Shakespeare as energetic and colourful as Spider-man. With its new series of graphic novel adaptations of literary classics, Classical Comics has succeeded in bringing Shakespeare to life, with striking full-colour artwork depicting the drama, emotion and action scenes in an exciting, captivating way.

Macbeth was published on Monday 25 February 2008

Macbeth and Henry V are Classical Comics’ first books in its range of graphic novel adaptations. Other great literary novels receiving the Classical Comic treatment include: Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (Spring 2008), Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (Summer 2008), and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Summer 2008),

The books retail at £9.99 each, and are available from Amazon, and all good bookshops nationwide.

www.classicalcomics.com

press enquiries to: Helen Maleed
tel/fax: 020 7732 4624 mobile: 07986 235 855
email: helen@greendesk.demon.co.uk

Review copies available

Artwork samples available

www.classicalcomics.com

Following the success of its pioneering three-tier dialogue treatment of Henry V, Classical Comics publishes Macbeth, its graphic novel adaptation of, arguably, Shakespeare’s most dramatic tragedy, certainly one of his greatest works. With stunning artwork from Marvel/Spider-man illustrator Jon Haward and comic strip illustrator Nigel Dobbyn, and script adaptation by author John McDonald, Classical Comics’ presents a brand new and totally fulfilling view of the sheer genius of Shakespeare’s storytelling.

Classical Comics has devised a revolutionary three-tier dialogue approach; each book is published in three versions: Original Text – the full, unabridged script; Plain Text – a modern English version of the original script; and Quick Text – with reduced, simplified dialogue for easier and faster reading. Clive Bryant, of Classical Comics, explains the thinking behind this: ‘We wanted to spread a joy and appreciation of literacy, and particularly to target readers in key stages 2 and 3. Often children of that age are forced to read Shakespeare, but they struggle to get past the language. The comic book format and three text versions will undoubtedly help with their understanding. By providing these three text versions, which are all on the same artwork, we allow a reader to absorb the story at Quick Text level, proceed onto Plain English, and then onto the Original script. That way, they understand the play and can appreciate the beautiful language that Shakespeare used. We believe that we’ve created a way for readers to enjoy these fantastic stories regardless of their age or their reading ability’.

Monday, March 24, 2008

3/31: Manga Shakespeare at the Folger

Words on Will: Shakespeare + Manga

Details:
Shakespeare meets manga, a stylized Japanese comic form, in four new editions of Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet. Writer/adapter Adam Sexton, faculty member at Parsons The New School for Design, and the manga artists discuss their work on these unique and beautifully illustrated new works.

Dates & Times:
March 31, 2008 7:30pm

Tickets:
$12

About Manga:
Manga can mean Japanese graphic novels or comic books, typically intended for adults, characterized by highly stylized art.

About the writer Adam Sexton :
Adam Sexton is author of Master Class in Fiction Writing and editor of the anthologies Love Stories, Rap on Rap, and Desperately Seeking Madonna. He has written on art and entertainment for the New York Times and the Village Voice, and he teaches fiction writing and literature at New York University and critical reading and writing at Parsons School of Design. He is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.

About the artist Yali Lin:
Yali Lin was born in southern China and moved to New York with her family in 1995. After earning her BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts in 2006, Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet Manga Edition is her first book. She teaches Cartooning/Manga courses to young teens in Manhattan, NYC.


I'm going - my friend Marc Singer might be moderating, but this should be interesting anyway even if he's not. Anybody else?

Monday, October 22, 2007

March 31, 2008: Shakespeare and Manga

Words on Will: Shakespeare + Manga at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St, SE, Washington, DC 2003. It's $12.00 and you can buy tickets on their website, which reports:

Shakespeare meets manga, a stylized Japanese comic form, in four new editions of Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet. Writer/adapter Adam Sexton, faculty member at Parsons The New School for Design, and the manga artists discuss their work on these unique and beautifully illustrated new works.

Dates & Times:
March 31, 2008 7:30pm

Location:
Folger Elizabethan Theatre

About Manga:
Manga can mean Japanese graphic novels or comic books, typically intended for adults, characterized by highly stylized art.

About the writer Adam Sexton :
Adam Sexton is author of Master Class in Fiction Writing and editor of the anthologies Love Stories, Rap on Rap, and Desperately Seeking Madonna. He has written on art and entertainment for the New York Times and the Village Voice, and he teaches fiction writing and literature at New York University and critical reading and writing at Parsons School of Design. He is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.

About the artist Yali Lin:
Yali Lin was born in southern China and moved to New York with her family in 1995. After earning her BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts in 2006, Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet Manga Edition is her first book. She teaches Cartooning/Manga courses to young teens in Manhattan, NYC.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jan 13 Cut & Play Shakespeare Festival in Post

Richard Thompson's Richard's Poor Almanack (note that new spelling) has another set of cutouts today, and there's six of them! DC's staging an area-wide Shakespeare festival this spring (including an adaptation by comic book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa). This set of cutouts has the greats - Richard III, Lady MacBeth and director Michael Kahn! I'll be making these. Unfortunately, it's not online yet so you'll have to buy, beg or borrow the Post's Style section for p. C3.

Richard Thompson has not paid for mentions in this blog.