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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM -Classical Comics

There is one thing that I never really have to write but, as some of you newbies out there may not be familiar with Classical Comics, I shall.  The quality and production on Classical Comics books is always of the highest standard.  Despite some of the previous editions having been thoroughly thumbed through and facing the ravages of the conditions in the Black Tower, they have neither fallen apart nor been creased/torn as lesser books might be.

Firstly, the presentation.  The cover is so scrummy and eye-catching and the colour! Believe me, covers are a pain in the bottom (heh heh) to get right.  If this one does not attract a lot of attention then I give up.  Could Titania look any more alluring than she does on the Plain Text cover?!

John McDonald has done a superb job in adapting the Shakespeare play into a graphic novel format.  The problem when adapting plays or even old text stories into comic strip form is that it can be hard.  Can you leave in every scene with full dialogue? Well, there is Original Text which actually answers that question.  John deserves cream buns and several pots of tea for this (I’m sure he’ll prefer the pay-cheque,though).  So, John –thumbs up!

Jason Cardy –aka:The Wild-Maned Welsh Marvel, was interviewed on CBO and you can find out how he works here:
http://www.comicbitsonline.com/2010/03/18/jason-cardy-transforming-wizard-of-wales/


Kat Nicholson, who seems far too nice to be involved in comics, was also interviewed on CBO and between Jason and her interviews you can see how they work together:
http://www.comicbitsonline.com/2010/03/17/kat-nicholson-having-a-mid-summer-nights-dream/

I think it fair to say that neither has ever worked on anything like this before.  A full 132 pages graphic novel in full colour for a hellish, slave-driving perfectionist boss like Clive Bryant!  I’ve asked a few artists, mainly more experienced ones, what their reactions would be if presented such a challenge?  Most said it would be a challenge but they were long-time comic hacks.  There was still that tone in their responses; Cardy and Nicholson are not long standing professional comic artists so how on earth are they going to do this book –could they?

The truth is that they have drawn the book and the result is a pure joy. Lovely artwork, lovingly rendered scenes and more faery-folk than you could find in Cottingley (oh, just google it).  It makes reading Shakespeare fun and I’ve baulked at reading any more Shakespeare after 1980 (yes, I’m that old).  Shakespeare has always had that stuffy reputation and it has been hard for non-Shakespeareans to work out what is going on and to picture scenes. Not any longer.

Nicholson and Cardy have made a book that those into faery lore will want to get, and I know that there is a major market for books connected to that subject.  Hey, maybe a few cosplayers will start dressing up as characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

If the Shakespeare adaption collectors are out there…get your kids interested in the Bard via these books!  They won’t even realise it’s educational!

I think that, if you are a parent and want something with substance for your child to read then the Quick Text version of this book is perfect.  You can even go the whole parent-child reading class way with this.
Of course, as with most of the Classical Comics books, their use for education has so many possibilities.
There are a lot of pupils now in education from non-English backgrounds so if English born kids are having difficulty with Shakespeare—!  I think these books are perfect.  Everything is broken down into eye-catching pictures so that clothing of the period, buildings and so forth become clearer. The three text versions should work at different educational and age levels.

Remember: there is a Teaching Resource Pack available.

There are also the text features looking at Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre, a history of the play and how the pages were drawn. It is a complete package.  And as none other than the great Sir Derek Jacobi writes:
“Classical Comics is truly inspirational, creating an accessible and fascinating mix of visual and audible drama.  The stage and the page brought vividly to life.  Highly recommended for any student of Shakespeare!”
And Sir Derek frikkin Jacobi wrote that!!

Schools need these books.  Theatre students and set design students need these books. Public libraries (if they aren’t all closed down) need these books.  Families need these books to start their own little home library.  Apart from standing naked and screaming this on the M5 can I make it any plainer?

I think it was Olivier Cadic of Cinebook who said that I was “Evangelical” about European comics and their promotion in English.  Well, yes. But I’m also quite passionate about Classical Comics and what Clive Bryant is doing.  People were laughing when I told them there were graphic novel adaptions of Shakespeare coming out and they looked great.  “Who the **** is going to read a Shakespeare comic?” was the response, along with a prediction that both Classical Comics and Cinebook had drastically mis-judged the UK market and would be gone in a year.

Who is laughing now?

And, personally, I do still remember the Greenway Secondary Modern Boys School play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Disaster. It was a very rough school so asking “who wants to be a faery” didn’t go down well.  And telling the school thug that he was “Bottom” and the grief he got…I remember the big school fire of ’72!




A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
William Shakespeare
“The course of true love never did run smooth;”
Shakespeare’s best-loved play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream endures as an obvious choice for outdoor theatre on a warm summer evening. The marriage of Theseus to Hippolyta serves as a backdrop to tangled loves, amateur dramatics, and an argument between the Fairy Queen and King, Titania and Oberon, with events spilling over from their Fairy Kingdom into the real world of the forest.
Script Adaptation: John McDonald
Characters & Artwork: Kat Nicholson & Jason Cardy
Lettering: Jim Campbell


Publication Date: UK: February 2011
US: July 2011
Format: 144 pages
full colour
paperback
246x168mm
Versions:
(click here for info)
Original Text (full and unabridged)
Plain Text
Quick Text
Cover Price: £9.99
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Original Text A Midsummer Night's Dream - Plain Text A Midsummer Night's Dream - Quick Text
British English Language Versions
British Editions (Cover price £9.99, pub date: Feb 2011)
Click here for an explanation of the text versions
Original Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-89-1Click here to preorder from: amazon.co.uk
Plain Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-90-7Click here to preorder from: amazon.co.uk
Quick Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-906332-91-4Click here to preorder from: amazon.co.uk
American English Language Versions
US Editions (Cover price $16.95, pub date: July 2011)
Click here for an explanation of the text versions
Original Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-28-1
Plain Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-29-8
Quick Text Version
ISBN: 978-1-907127-30-4

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