After finishing the fabulous Theatre Illuminata Trilogy, I realized I was a little rusty on my plays. A lot of the books I’ve read lately give references to the classics, but with this series set in a theater with characters practically living and breathing Shakespeare, I noticed plenty of references to things I read in school. And plenty of things I’d only heard about but never read. It was time to fix that.
While browsing the library’s collection of classic literature, I noticed the ever-present cliff-notes and other study guides printed in order to help people “translate” Shakespearean and other forms of Ye Olde English listed along with the originals; then I discovered an entire collection of Shakespeare plays had been made into manga!
Since the main character of the series that sparked my newfound interest in Shakespeare is named Beatrice, I went first for the play with the character she is named after: Much Ado About Nothing. This manga version uses direct quotes from the play, and while there is a short summary in the back, rather than relying on paragraphs of footnotes to parse through the text, you use the pictures to get the gist of the story. With this light introduction to the story, I’m looking forward to reading the original text and knowing a little bit of what’s in store. Not to mention the art was just plain fun to look at!
During my search I found comic book versions of other classics, like The Iliad and Pride and Prejudice, biographies of historical figures like Amelia Earhart and Anne Frank, and even an action-packed comics version of the Bible! Mixed in with the superhero comics and manga, just waiting to help you with your required reading for school. Instead of taking shortcuts with cliff-notes and Wikipedia, why not try some comics?
…But seriously, read the originals too. You might end up liking them, especially with a visual already in your head! And then the next time you read a book with a character talking about Cathy and Heathcliff, or see a chapter beginning with a quote from The Odyssey, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about!