William Shakespeare is one of history's greatest writers and has left a lasting impression on literature, theater, and culture. He is believed to have been born on April 23, 1564 (records place his baptism on April 26). And he died exactly 52 years later on April 23, 1616.
From retellings to adaptations, his work has influenced every medium of storytelling. Including comics and graphic novels! What better time than the Bard's anniversary to explore some Shakespearean adaptations and retellings in comics, manga, and graphic novels.
Deadpool Does Shakespeare by Gerry Duggan
All the world's a stage, and he's a major player! Forsooth, Deadpool will face a comedy of errors when he gets trapped in the works of William Shakespeare! Whether it turns out to be a midsummer night's dream, or much ado about nothing, it's sure to be Deadpool as you like it! Fingers crossed that all's well that ends well, so Wade can return to the tragedy that is his regular life in the Marvel Universe!
Prince of Cats by Ronald Wimberly
A hip-hop retelling of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet that focuses on Tybalt (derisively referred to as "the Prince of Cats") and his Capulet crew as they do battle nightly with the hated Montagues. Set in a Blade Runner-esque version of Brooklyn, PRINCE OF CATS is a mix of urban melodrama, samurai action and classic Shakespearean theater...all written in Iambic Pentameter!
Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman
The third volume of the Sandman collection is a series of four short comic book stories. In each of these otherwise unrelated stories, Morpheus serves only as a minor character. Here we meet the mother of Morpheus's son, find out what cats dream about, and discover the true origin behind Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The latter won a World Fantasy Award for best short story, the first time a comic book was given that honor.
Kill Shakespeare by Conor McCreery
What Fables does for fairy tales, Kill Shakespeare does with the greatest writer of all time. This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare.
Yorick and Bones by Jeremy Tankard
Yorick is a skeleton who was just dug up after a few hundred years of sleep. He speaks like it too. “Forsooth, my joy, I barely can contain!”
Bones is the hungry dog who did the digging. Though he cannot speak, he can chomp.
What will become of these two unlikely companions? Will Yorick ever find the friend he seeks? Will Bones ever find a tasty treat that does not talk back?
The course of true friendship never did run smooth.
Requiem of the Rose King by Aya Kanno
Richard, the ambitious third son of the House of York, believes he is cursed, damned from birth to eternal darkness. But is it truly fate that sets him on the path to personal destruction? Or his own tormented longings? Based on an early draft of Shakespeare’s Richard III, Aya Kanno’s dark fantasy finds the man who could be king standing between worlds, between classes, between good and evil.
Richard’s father, the patriarch of the House of York, is poised to become king of medieval England during the bloody Wars of the Roses. But just as success is imminent, he is abruptly cut down. Plunged into despair, Richard acts out in revenge and must face a powerful and beautiful new enemy.
Toil & Trouble by Mairghread Scott
Something wicked this way comes.
The three fates—Riata, Cait, and Smertae—have always been guiding and protecting Scotland unseen, indirectly controlling the line of kings according to the old religion. When there is a disagreement between the weird sisters, Riata and Smertae will use men as pawns, and Smertae will direct Macbeth to a crown he was never meant to have.
This re-telling of Macbeth from the witches point of view is brought to life by Mairghread Scott (TRANSFORMERS: Windblade, LANTERN CITY), and illustrated by talented duo Kelly & Nichole Matthews. TOIL AND TROUBLE brings a new and inventive take on the tragedy we all know and love.
Othello by Crystal S. Chan
A brilliant general in the service of Venice, Othello is also the new husband of the adoring - and young - Desdemona, whose innocent hero worship has blossomed into love. But can a beautiful girl, so much younger than her husband, truly be faithful? Othello's trusted ensign Iago seems to think not. Can Othello trust him? Can Othello trust anyone? Manga Classics presents Shakespeare's classic story of love, hate, vengeance, and betrayal, in its full, original glory! (This volume features the complete, unabridged text from the Shakespeare Play.)
King Lear by Gareth Hinds
One of the greatest tragedies of English literature is now a full-color graphic novel by the creator of Beowulf and Bearskin. An old king seeks to set aside his crown and divide his realm among his three daughters. But treachery and madness lie ahead for King Lear.
Henry V by John McDonald
Shakespeare’s rousing tale of war and peace between England and France during the reign of Henry V springs to life in this unabridged, full-color graphic adaptation. Every scene, every speech, and every battle is here, from “Once more unto the breach” to the decisive Battle of Agincourt, all in Shakespeare’s original language. The lively illustrations accurately depict the era’s costumes and settings.
Romeo and Juliet by Matt Wiegle
No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels is a series based on the translated texts of the plays found in No Fear Shakespeare. The original No Fear series made Shakespeare’s plays much easier to read, but these dynamic visual adaptations are impossible to put down. Each of the titles is illustrated in its own unique style, but all are distinctively offbeat, slightly funky, and appealing to teen readers.
A Midsummer Night's Dream by Jesus Aburto Martinez
Witness a tale of love, fairies, and betrayal in this classic tale retold in graphic-novel format. Theseus, duke of Athens is preparing for his marriage when Hermia, and her father, Egeus, burst into his court and beg for Theseus's judgment regarding whom Hermia, Egeus's, daughter, should marry. Theseus tells Hermia she must marry Demetrius, even though she really loves Lysander. At nightfall, the two young lovers run off to the forest to be married in secret. However, Demetrius discovers their deception and charges into the forest, searching for his bride-to-be. Little do any of them know, a band of magical fairies lives in this forest, and they have other plans for these lovestruck humans.
Hamlet by Neil Babra
Based on the No Fear Shakespeare translations, this dynamic graphic novel—now with color added—is impossible to put down. The illustrations are distinctively offbeat, slightly funky, and appealing to teens.
The Merchant of Venice by Richard Appignanesi
The Merchant of Venice, one of the Bard's most enduring plays, explores themes of forgiveness, prejudice, and fairness, all of which remain vital topics today. In the Manga Shakespeare version, the setting and themes of the play take on new meaning as adapted by the artists guiding the series. Whether readers are fans of the Bard or of manga, this is a story that will captivate and engage, even after four hundred years.