Saturday, March 08, 2008

Macbeth – The Graphic Novel…

A Review of the new book from Classical Comics...

I was lucky enough to have the book sent through to me to review by my good friend and colleague in the comics business, Jon Haward the other week. I have taken a look at all three versions, which he sent and have to report the books are wonderful.

Macbeth is available in three formats:
  • Original Text – The Original Shakespearian text from the play

  • Plain Text – Converted Text into Modern English

  • Quick Text – A more basic text, allowing the books to be read at a quick pace

Jon has spent the last 54 weeks working on the graphic novel. He has lived and breathed Macbeth all throughout this time and it shows. There are tips of the hat to lots of Jon’s heroes throughout the book as well. In there, if you look carefully and have a good understanding of the who’s who of comics over the past thirty plus years, you will see homages to the likes of Jack Kirby (his “Kirby-crackle” abounds whenever we see the Hecate appears), John Buscema’s “Conan”, Frank Bellamy’s “Garth” and Frank Frazetta,

You can also see his influences from such films as Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy and Ray Harryhausen’s “Jason and the Argonauts”…it’s all in there in the mix.

The book is obviously a labour of love and the best book to my mind to come out of Classical Comics up to press. This is Jon’s first graphic novel and he is due to follow this with another, again for Classical Comics, and yet another Shakespeare work, “The Tempest”.

The layouts are exactly what the brief asked for, contemporary and with accessibility to today’s younger audiences. The draughtsmanship is excellent and is complemented by the inking by Jon and Gary Erskine, and digital colouring by Nigel Dobbyn. Coming in at 120 pages of story with added extra pages to a total of 144 plus the cover and you have a hefty tome in your hands.

The artwork is fun to look at, powerful, and dramatic, matching the lofty words of the Shakespearian text. Amongst my favourite pages are Page 1, where we are introduced to the three witches, Pages 12 and 13, where we again see the witches, Pages 73 – 75,which shows us the arrival of Hecate, Pages 78 – 80 again scenes with the witches, and Page 120, which shows a great battle scene, to name but a few. Jon has surpassed himself with this book and his attention to the detailing is wonderful.

I for one cannot wait for him to finish The Tempest, but with another lofty tome on his hands it will be a few months before we see that book.

The books coming put of Classical Comics are, as I have said before, going to be a great asset for teachers as a teaching aid. It is the perfect book to have in schools, libraries and anyone’s graphic novel collection.

So there, now you have read it here…go out and buy a copy, with three different formats to go at, you are spoilt for choice.

Macbeth has always been my favourite Shakespearian Play and Jon has done the Bard proud, indeed.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
March 8th 2008

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