Kill Shakespeare, Vol 1: A Sea of Troubles

During an off day, my boyfriend and I went to The Strand in NYC and I didn’t pick anything up–which is definitely odd for me as an avid book lover and writer of this blog, but I just wasn’t feeling commotion. After The Strand, we walked next door to Forbidden Planet, a huge comic book store right next door to The Strand. Normally, I’m not a comic book person–no particular reason, just that it isn’t my favorite way of reading, but my boyfriend loves comic books so we stopped in. Once again, nothing wasn’t striking my fancy, but right when we were about to leave, he pulled this comic out and I knew I had to buy this.

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Kill Shakespeare Book 1 by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, illustrated by Andy Belanger
Published by IDW Publishing; 59143rd edition on November 9th, 2010
Genres: Shakespeare, Comic Book, Historical Fiction, Literature
Pages: 148
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review: 4 out of 5 ★★★★☆


So there isn’t much to say about this book in a literary sense, other than it being fun, which is pretty much enough for me. To start, I’ll just preface that the storyline is definitely incorrect in Shakespearean terms, but, once again, that doesn’t matter at all to have a fun story. Imagine if all of Shakespeare’s plays were within the same realm, and had happened at the same time (which is impossible since all the kings couldn’t have been king at the same time). We begin with Hamlet whose story begins at the end of his play, meaning his father is dead and he has killed Polonius but still does not know who murdered his father. He leaves Denmark upset and brooding–much the Hamlet way–and when he arrives in England, he is intercepted by King Richard III who calls Hamlet The Shadow King. Richard has proposed that he will resurrect Hamlet’s father from the dead (with the help of the three witches we see in the beginning of Macbeth), if Hamlet succeeds over the supposed wizard, William Shakespeare, whose power lies in his magical quill that Hamlet must steal so Richard can wield that power. Yes, the actual Will Shakespeare is a character in this story and there are two sets of people: those who believe he is their god and claim his name is holy, and those who want his power.

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So far, in Book 1, our heroes are Juliet, who lead the revolution against Richard and his men with the help of Othello, and Hamlet alongside Falstaff. The villains are obviously Richard III as well as Lady Macbeth and Iago. These characters are pitted against each other in the battle of control. The story is not set in modern day, which I prefer because then the style of speech is more accurate, such as how Juliet is suspicious of Hamlet truly being the Shadow King, she says: “He will cut a finer figure than what you have brought to us,” which is obviously a fancier way of saying, this can not possibly be the true Shadow King of myths. Furthermore, even though the timeline is impossible, the creators do try to stay true to each character’s strengths and weakness–in a traditional sense that is. For example, when Richard III and Lady Macbeth are conspiring, Richard’s man warns: “I hope thou doth not trust that one too closely. Her teeth are sharp in her mouth.” I would perhaps read Lady Macbeth slightly different, but as a standard reading, she is pretty spot on. Falstaff is a womanizer and plumpy drunk, Juliet is strong-willed and headstrong, Iago is cunning, and Richard III is crippled and an egomaniac.

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The art style, an obvious component of any comic book, is pretty standard. I would have liked to see some more whimsical illustrations, which is much more my cup of tea when it comes to comics, but the classic style allows for the focus to be on everything happening–words included–not just the art. There are also odd instances when instead of reading frame-by-frame down the page and then onto the next, you read across both pages and then down, across both pages, and down again. This threw me off multiple times and I found myself reading information that wasn’t chronological. Maybe this is a more common thing than I thought, but every comic I’ve read previous hasn’t done that, so be prepared. Regardless of the sometimes confusing layout, my next point is on the hilarious puns, which totally make up for it. For some people, the Shakespeare imagery might be lost, but for me, someone who has been reading and studying the Bard’s works for over five years now, this stuff kills. The characters say things like “Then be true to thine own self” (originally said in Hamlet by Polonius) and “Call it what you will” (the extended part of Twelfth Night‘s title). I’m not going to list every instance, but you get the idea.

Overall, this comic is a good time. The first volume is a lot of setting up so I’m not really sure what happens or is going to happen in the volumes to come, but I can update this post once I read more. If you’re a literary nerd like me and enjoy seeing Shakespeare’s characters outside of their original works, then definitely give this work a go.

Shakespeare the myth? Or Shakespeare the false hope?

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Strong Female Protagonist

I feel so strongly about this comic; everything about it speaks to me as a writer, as a young adult (okay I’m 22, but still), and most importantly, as a woman.

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Strong Female Protagonist writing by Brennan Lee Mulligan; illustrations by Molly Ostertag
Published by Top Shelf Productions on November 25th 2014
Genres: Comics, Feminism, Coming of Age
Pages: 220
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Final Review: 5 out of 5 ★★★★★


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First, I’m going to express my love for the title: Strong Female Protagonist. Mulligan and Ostertag are pretty much me when it comes to procrastination, and but then run with it. This title sounds like something they typed into the file’s title just to be able to find it on their desktop later–and that is the brilliant part of it. It’s so commonplace that you can insert any female into the title. It tells the reader exactly what they need to know, what they should know, about the piece. This comic, like Paper Girls, is in silent conversation with the feminist talk of today. As I’ve noted in my Paper Girls 1 and 2 review, the mere fact that this comic follows a girl, instead of a boy lead, already turns the stereotype of comics on its head. Comics used to be a hobby for boys, and I think it’s safe that to say to some extent it still is. Most of today’s comics feature male superheroes or female leads wearing barely any clothing on–who is that for I wonder? Don’t get me wrong, though, the male lead comics are still entertaining for anyone of any gender, but that’s why I love comics like this one and Paper Girls. Girls are now the superheroes, but they aren’t without their flaws or regular pants and shirts. In some cases they are children, like in Paper Girls, or college students, as in SFP, who try to juggle school, friendship and romantic relationships, and supervillians.

This brings me to the other amazing part about this comic: the storyline. There is no cheesiness to be found here, folks. Ostertag and Mulligan have thought about how a real teen hero would react to her hidden identity and sudden super strength. Alison Green never once enjoys being called a hero–she much prefers being unnoticed all together. She knows that as a superhero for the town, her profession comes with broken relationships as well as hatred from the common people. No tax-paying individual wants to deal with a destroyed city once Mega Girl and her gang are done battling some radioactive villain. So Mega Girl faces a lot of backlash. On top of this, Alison is still young–young enough to be unsure of her path and who she wants to be. Does she want to hang up her cape? Is being a superhero for a town that seems to hate her really worth it? Is she suffering as a consequence? Sure, I’m not a superhero during the day, but I was once a college student and understand the struggle that resides in someone who separates themselves too far–between school, romantic interests, social life, and a job, it’s hard to know which way to turn when they all need you at once.

Ostertag and Mulligan create this young woman and give her the ability to be a hero, though she doesn’t need to have super strength in order to do that. The reader watches Alison repair relationships with her younger sister and family, the relationship hurdles that all growing teenagers find themselves in; as well as friendships when she does decide to take off the mask. How does she handle a drunken, but offensive statement from a friend? Or a friend that uses her as a punchline? So Ostertag and Mulligan use super strength as a medium to converse about the real issues, issues all young women are facing today–hatred, confusion, frustration, identity, masculinity and patriarchy, our own bodies, and so on.

Finally, the art style is just so lovable. It comes across as classically comic-like as well as sketchy, something that someone drew offhand and then was told it was good enough to be turned into something–there is something remarkable about that. This comic doesn’t need perfection in the drawing, or realism for that matter–the storyline is certainly real enough. By keeping with the classic cartoon-like style, the illustrator shifts the focus to the dialogue and plot line, as well as keeping with the 180 degree comic twist. So it looks like a regular comic, feels like a regular comic, but is made for strong women who want to be everyday heroes.

Please read this comic if a real female superhero is your cup of tea–no skimpy, tight “superhero turned stripper” outfits. Also read this comic if you like classic comic art style, funny, but real relationships, and overall coming of age tales. I desperately want the creators to come out with Book 2 in trade paperback, but for those that cannot wait, please continue reading their amazing work at: strongfemaleprotagonist.com.

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Paper Girls

A while back, I posted a comic book haul and since then I have gone back and forth between reading comics and reading books. My boyfriend has gone comic book crazy–buying membership discount cards at our local store, scouring Amazon, desperate for the latest editions to come out in trade paperback format (we have a thing against buying every individual issue when it looks so much better compiled together). Meanwhile, I am so-so on it. While I love the terseness of the comics, being able to read one, two, three in a day and feel completed, I also crave full volumes of books–like 400 pages of prose. That’s just really my thing, I think. But that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good comic book and the Paper Girls series hits that mark.


Paper Girls 1 & 2 writing by Brian Vaughan; art by Cliff Chiang; colors by Matt Wilson; and letters by Jared Fletcher
Published by Image Comics (#1) on April 5th 2016 and (#2) December 5th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Strong Female Leader(s),
Pages: 144 and 128 respectively
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Final Review: 

Paper Girls 1: 4 out of 5  // ★★★★☆

Paper Girls 2: 4 out of 5 // ★★★★☆


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So why didn’t I give these comics 5 out of 5 stars seeing as this is really the only series that I’ve gotten to the next edition? (I did read the next two after the first of Fables and just fell out of it). I think the main point for me is that I was confused, and (slight spoiler) nothing really gets resolved in the second one. I understand that the series will continue, and therefore can’t put everything on the table right away, but after reading through the second one, I was still like “wait, what?” Part of this was because I read Paper Girls 1 only a few months after it came out and then put it away. When Paper Girls 2 came out, it had been a few months since I read the first volume and had already read many books after it, that I actually seemed to forget what actually happened in the first one! So I set into the second one with almost a blank slate (my bad) and ended in more confusion. Perhaps I need to just re-read the first one and then re-read the second one all in one sitting to at least understand a little bit!

Other than my confusion–which in all honesty is probably part of the story itself; the writers aren’t going to give everything away in the first two books! I’m just a complainer–the story is great. The art is great. Everything is great! Four 12-year-old girls are not only taking on a male-dominated job–paper routes–they are also thrust into a time warp with dinosaurs, future versions of themselves, and overall confusion, which certainly doesn’t go along with regular, female-lead stories. No one is a princess, in fact quite the opposite with one of the girls being a regular smoker and avid curser. No one is a damsel in distress, though sometimes they do need saving, but certainly not by any boy, instead by their friends.

Most likely intending to, the creators of these girls and their tumultuous tale are having a conversation with today’s people. Starting even from the physical copy, boys and girls, men and women, can enjoy Paper Girls. Comics have stereotypically been a hobby only boys seemed to possess, while us girls were given dolls and pink things. But now that women are finding their voice, pushing through to the other side–the blue, male-dominated side–things that were once considered masculine are being upturned (might I add that young boys are also pushing through onto the pink side as well by showing their interests in fashion, dolls, etc. and I think this is great!). So by making a comic about girls, the creators instantly upheave the stereotypes associated with comics. Furthermore, as mentioned previously, they could have made the girls do more innocent, female-like things, but nope! Instead, the four are ruthless little girls who are suddenly tasked with saving the world from some sort of time warp that they don’t even fully understand.

I think these are a great addition to any woman’s or girl’s shelf. They are funny and curious, the girls are real, the story, while confusing (in a good way), urges the reader to figure what is going happen to this strange group of mismatched girls. Who do we trust in the year 2016? How are there different dimensions and dinosaurs all of a sudden? What is going on!

I really love the art style, it compliments both the girls from the 80’s and also the modernism from 2016. I’m not sure how to describe it other than sketchiness with harsh, dark lines that promote the seriousness of the plot as well as maintaining the cartoon-esque characters that keep it a comic book.

I’m not sure what to expect in the volume 3 trade paperback, but I’m hoping some loose ends will be tied together, and I know more questions will come out of it. Who is that bearded man?!

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