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.
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.)
So, 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.