‘Kill Shakespeare’ comic book series assembles classic characters

Adrienne Savoldi

For many, Shakespeare is just another reading assignment for class, but now two men are giving people reason to appreciate Shakespeare again.

Creators Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery have reinvented the Bard with their comic book series “Kill Shakespeare.” The story starts off with Hamlet en route to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, when he is thrown overboard and washes ashore on an island where he encounters other Shakespeare characters from other plays. The first character he meets is Richard III, who asks Hamlet to kill a wizard named Shakespeare. In exchange, Richard promises to bring Hamlet’s deceased father back to life.?

“In the end, Hamlet is faced with this question: to kill or not to kill,” said Del Col.

“We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve been very well received by Shakespeare critics and scholars and comic book critics.” – Anthony Del Col

The other characters in the comic include Juliet, a leader of “prodigal rebellious” with whom Hamlet has a romance, Romeo, Othello, who is Juliet’s body guard and right-hand man, and Puck. The villains include Richard, Lady Macbeth and Iago.

The 10th issue of “Kill Shakespeare” will be released April 20, which is a significant date because it is close to April 23, the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

“We feel it is very fitting because this issue is the first time we kill one of our major characters,” Del Col said.

The first graphic novel was released this past November and included issues one through six and a five-page back-story explaining the “Kill Shakespeare” universe.

Del Col said that the language is one of the primary reasons people find Shakespeare a challenge. The comic uses modern language instead of Shakespeare’s difficult speech, but it does combine some Shakespeare quotes as well. Del Col said that for the most part, well-known characters were chosen.?

“Not only do (the characters) come naturally, but those who have no knowledge of Shakespeare know the characters,” he said, citing it as “natural” that Richard III and Lady Macbeth would conspire together.

Del Col said that one of the most fulfilling aspects of “Kill Shakespeare” is the people who now want to read Shakespeare on their own thanks to the comic. However, they also have admirers in higher places, including Tom Stoppard of “Shakespeare in Love” fame.

“We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve been very well received by Shakespeare critics and scholars and comic book critics,” he said.

Del Col also said that comic books are a great way to experience Shakespeare because when the Bard wrote his plays, he intended them to be performed, not read.

“The comic book medium is fantastic in that it can open up this world,” he said. “We really encourage people not to be afraid of reading a comic book but just to embrace it.”

Del Col is astounded by everything that has happened regarding “Kill Shakespeare.”?

“It’s amazing to see an idea that was just that months ago and then take a piece of paper and see it come to life,” he said.

Contact Adrienne Savoldi at [email protected].