Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Shakespeare in a few deft strokes – a Vulpes Libris Random

I’ve recently had a number of Shakespearian treats in the theatre and cinema and on TV, and was so happy to be introduced to the deliciously funny website of a Shakespeare-lover and inspired cartoonist who’d been watching the same plays that I had. I innocently and foolishly thought that might be the inspiration for a bit of an overview of Shakespeare in comics, but rapidly changed my mind when I realised that it would lead me way, way out of my depth, into the world of superheroes, manga, computer games, graphic novel treatments and tabloid headlines containing the words ‘schools’, ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘dumbed down’. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to go there – my ‘Tea and Kittens’ tabloid link blocker – highly recommended – prevents me anyhow.) Some other time (and probably some other Bookfox, at that.)

downloadSo, right up my street, and making me laugh and smile (even at stark tragedy – discuss) is the wonderful website of Mya Gosling, Shakespeare addict and library worker (huzzah!): Peace, Good Ticklebrain. Quoting Falstaff is a great start, and a hint of the delights to come. On this site you will find a growing collection of three panel versions of Shakespeare’s plays; some Shakespearean counterfactuals (just take a look at the alternative ending of Much Ado, and tell me if you don’t cheer it to the echo); and two plays, that have recently had a high profile, retold scene by scene: Coriolanus (not so long ago made into a film starring Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave and Gerard Butler, more recently on stage in London at the Donmar with an intelligent and physically arresting performance by Tom Hiddleston); and Richard II (on TV starring Ben Whishaw in a performance that could hardly be bettered, and on stage most recently starring David Tennant – contrasting brilliant performances). Live relays of these starry UK stage versions have given the productions a world-wide profile, and inspired these clever, affectionate comics. In a few strokes of the pen the characters are revealed, and in a few lines of caption the plot essentials are there. But best of all are the jokes – hilarious, and just waiting to be cracked – a favourite in Richard II is John of Gaunt dying to make his Big Speech, and thwarted at every turn.

As well as Shakespeare, there is a smaller section on Library Life, and naturally I’m attracted to that too, with some superb jokes about cataloguing books – yes – you’d better believe it, cataloguing a book can be rib-tickling (if only sometimes in a ‘you have to laugh or you’d cry’ sense). But best of all are the Shakespeare pages. Peace, Good Ticklebrain is inspired by a knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays that I can only admire and envy, and a talent for drawing and telling jokes that I can never hope to share. Other Shakespeare comics and jokes are available, and I looked up a few favourites to include. But in the end I thought I’d just leave this brilliant website to speak for itself.

Peace, Good Ticklebrain (accessed 4 March 2014)

6 comments on “Shakespeare in a few deft strokes – a Vulpes Libris Random

  1. Kate
    March 5, 2014

    Very good stuff indeed. I was thinking of feeding these to my students (not native speakers, absolutely not familiar with Shakespeare), and I regretfully realised that you have to know something about the plays to get the jokes here.

  2. Jackie
    March 7, 2014

    This sounds like a great site, I’m going to check it out when I’ve got plenty of time to browse. What a unique idea, it would take a clever person to think of this. Thanks for mentioning Ralph Fiennes. :)
    Of course, I’m also interested in seeing the library section of her site, since you know how I love libraries and am envious of those who get to work in them.Shakespeare and libraries sound like a great combination!

  3. George Collingwood
    March 9, 2014

    Interesting post. Wish there were more like you.

  4. Mya Gosling
    March 10, 2014

    Hey! Thanks for featuring my stuff! Glad you’re enjoying it. Library Power!

  5. sshaver
    March 11, 2014

    And don’t forget “Slings and Arrows.”

  6. Hilary
    March 13, 2014

    Thanks so much for your kind comments.

    Mya, thanks for dropping by, and my pleasure – I love your comics, and very much enjoy the RDA in-jokes, as well as the Shakespeare.

    Kate, I wondered how far this site might be good for teaching – I’ve found it highly educational, as well as fun! But yes, it might not mean a lot to the uninitiated (though it might intrigue some people).

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Acknowledgment

  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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