The Cat recently received some links that gave her new information on graphic novels.
The Cat rarely reads graphic novels. She is as verbally oriented as any feline could possibly be. But since she hangs with librarians, and innovative ones at that, she kept her whiskers pricked and her ears erect.
The Cat was recently surprised to discover that the field of Graphic Classics had grown so dramatically. She was sent a link to the Graphic Classics site at http://www.graphicclassics.com/.
Graphic Classics markets beautifully illustrated graphic versions of many classics by over a hundred famous authors. They also have anthologies in fantasy, horror, adventure and science fiction. The site has order information and also hotlinks to information on every author, graphic writer and graphic illustrator, although the sites are rather a mixed lot.
If the Cat was surprised to discover the riches of the Graphic Classics site, she was completely astonished when she opened the link to the Manga Shakespeare series at http://www.mangashakespeare.com.
Manga is a style of graphic illustration that originated with comics and cartoons in Japan and now has a worldwide influence in the graphic arts field. Manga Shakespeare is a series of critically acclaimed, sometimes hotly debated, books that feature manga illustrations with abridged text from Shakespeare.
The Cat’s ears flattened involuntarily, since she has been a Shakespeare addict since she was a kitten. But Shakespeare retains his power partly because his plays can be adapted to many different times and styles. The Cat had watched too many unlikely productions to be in any position to hiss at Manga Shakespeare. She retracted her claws and began opening links.
Some of the Manga interpretations are quite innovative. Hamlet is set in a futuristic society, devastated by climate change and in constant dread of war. Romeo and Juliet is presented as a conflict between two Yakuza families in modern Tokyo. Othello is presented in a fantastic Italian carnival setting. MacBeth presents Samurai warriors. King Lear takes place in an Eighteenth Century American Indian setting. Some of the others sound as though they might be a bit more conventional, but all feature the distinctive Manga artwork.
The Cat was intrigued and would have welcomed a chance to examine some of these books but that hasn’t been possible yet. It will be interesting to see if these books move deeper into the mainstream culture. The Cat, purring thoughtfully, could see how the Manga Shakespeares might be successful, if unusual, introductions to Shakespeare. Even if Shakespeare’s plays were never adopted, the stories and the language would be part of the cultural landscape, along with a very modern art form.
At first, the Cat thought that she was unlikely to make any emotional connection to a graphic classic. She was remembering the time when she encountered Hamlet as a half-grown kitten, disappearing into the text, muttering to herself, walking into the furniture, alarming the mother cat considerably. No other literary memory even comes close to that one.
But then she also remembered her discovery of the Silver Surfer, a haunting image from classic comics that has never left her mind. Literary discovery has never been a simple journey. It still isn’t.