Neil Babra has created a graphic novel version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s an interesting graphic adaptation of Hamlet, simplifying but not dumbing down the Shakespearean language, and the monologues and interiors nearly intact. It is a part of a series No Fear Shakespeare published by Spark Publishing. Visit the Spark Notes website to read about other titles in the series.
Neil Babra also has a website to accompany the graphic novel.
The book is explained on the website:
My graphic novel of Hamlet has been published as a part of the “SparkNotes” line of guides to understanding the classics, as an ancillary to the original text by William Shakespeare. I also intended it to function as a relevant independent adaptation of the play. Fortunately, it seems to be well received in both respects. Here’s a really nice review from a teacher’s perspective:
“…This version of Hamlet is surprisingly imaginative and smart, as well as emotionally gripping. I studied Hamlet as part of my playwright training in college, and I still learned new stuff! For example, the scene in which Ophelia cracks up and starts handing out flowers… The graphic novel puts little scrolls next to the flowers to let the reader know what they represent…
“I especially love the way the prince himself is portrayed—a slim, trenchcoat-wearing, heavy-lidded youth with pale skin and crazed dark eyes… This is Hamlet as he’s always appeared in my own mind’s eye: impossibly young and heartbreakingly fragile. When he dies, you feel the tragedy of his wasted life.
Neil also explains what it was like to research, visualise, write and edit the book. For example, he explains how he struggled initially with leaving out some of Shakespeare’s original dialogue:
I was ambivalent about not using all of Shakespeare’s original dialogue at first, but I came to agree that this choice is essential to the book’s purpose as a complete guide to the play. While a visual component can certainly make a difficult text easier to read, it wouldn’t provide a sufficient explanation of the literal meanings of all the archaic and abstruse lines, which is what students of the play really need.
We also have the Manga version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, just for something completely different.
Pardon? Yes, you heard correctly – it’s Shakespeare in Manga.
Here’s an extract from a review
Present day Tokyo. Two teenagers, Romeo and Juliet, fall in love. But their rival Yakuza families are at war.”
The author’s introduce the characters of Shakespeare’s wonderful play in full color. Each character has one of their famous quotes introducing them like this one: Tybalt – nephew of Lady Capulet “As I hate hell, all Montague and thee.” Tybault is pictured looking over his tattooed back and hefting a large sword. The manga style artwork is beautiful and it conveys the story so well.
I loved that the language of Shakespeare is intact. Sure the characters are speaking in bubbles but the language is still poetic and gorgeous. The authors have done a great job in blending pop culture and classic literature. It works! Manga Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet is sure to be a big hit.
Now there are some interesting ways to enjoy Shakespeare!