Friday, February 13, 2015

Macbeth in Comics

I've written about the comics adaptations of The Odyssey and Romeo and Juliet by Gareth Hinds on this blog, so I was looking forward to picking up his rendition of Macbeth when it came out this week. In a fun bit of coincidence, I picked it up on the very same day that I finished reading the play with my seniors. Or maybe it was fate. It's hard to know for sure what you have control of in your life after reading this play.

I was expecting to like this one, and I wasn't disappointed. While glancing through it at first, I was a bit disappointed that it lacked the vibrant colors of his Romeo and Juliet, but when I sat down to read it, it occurred to me that darker colors and grays are a bit more appropriate for this sort of a thing, and Hinds puts that to good use.

One bit that stands out is how he handled my favorite scene in the play, which is where Banquo's ghost makes an appearance. I remember that really capturing my imagination when I was in high school and talking about it with my dad, which was my first realization that when it comes to Shakespeare, there's a whole lot of stuff to talk about. Anyway, Hinds has the ghost look like what you'd imagine a generic ghost to look like (no, not the kind with a sheet - just all white) and as Macbeth proceeds to freak out, Banquo looks gorier and gorier, reducing down to a bloody skeleton.

Another great touch was when Macbeth speaks the line "I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were was tedious as go o'er." He's sitting there in his dining hall with his wife, and at their feet is a pool of blood. That's one of those nice things about comics; the artist can literally draw the metaphor and it doesn't lose its impact.

I also appreciate how Hinds lets the reader in on his creative process in the end notes. I found myself learning some new things that I'll have to incorporate in my lesson plans. I already knew that the play was historically inaccurate (although I only recently learned that Banquo probably didn't even exist!) I didn't know that they didn't even have proper castles back in 11th Century. And to think that people get all up in arms about the inaccurate history in Braveheart! It's got nothing on this one, I think. But who cares? A good story is a good story, and if it's really good, it can inspire you to learn the truth.

I should probably note that for the most part, Hinds retains the original language. He doesn't format it into iambic pentameter, which actually makes it a bit easier to read, as it causes the reader to pay more attention to punctuation. Of course, like all adaptations, some scenes are cut, but nothing that I think anybody would consider a favorite scene.

I hope that we'll see more comics adaptations of Shakespeare, as it seems like a real no brainer. When it comes to comics, the artist is doing a job that's similar to the director, only he's completely in control of all the actors. Just as it would be worth it to see more than one stage production or more than one movie version of the same play, it would be great to see even more artists take a turn at this material.

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