Manga Shakespeare: King Lear

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9780810942226: Manga Shakespeare: King Lear

Combining manga and the timeless texts of Shakespeare’s plays, this series translates some of the greatest works of literature into a new format. In King Lear, the aging king—here a Native American—must decide how to split his kingdom among his daughters. When he scorns his one dutiful daughter and trusts the two selfish ones, he pays a steep price.

F&P level: Z

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About the Author:

Comic book writer and artist ILYA has had his work published by Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse. He is the editor of The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga. He lives in the UK.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 8 Up–These books depict Shakespeare's plays through black-and-white paneled storytelling. Much Ado is set in Italy during the late 1800s, using Victorian clothing to set the scene. Vieceli uses different styles of manga art with great effect, from chibi or super-deformed characters to show excessive cuteness or childish banter to the dramatic, overflowing tears that exaggerate a character's grief. This play is an excellent choice for adaptation, given its comedic moments and over-the-top emotions, and Appignanesi adapts it beautifully. King Lear is more challenging to convert to the style, made no less so by the choice of setting: the North American frontier, with Lear himself cast as an Algonquin chief. The traitorous Edmund is cast as one of the few African Americans. He is more sympathetic than in other productions, but he remains a villain. Ilya works hard to wrap real historical and cultural details into the panels, attempting authenticity instead of stereotypical images that too often accompany Native Americans in comics. However, there are some questions about the accuracy of the appearance of the fools particularly; they are costumed as clowns, one with a vaguely Southwestern appearance and the other wearing the entire hide of a wolf. In addition, Ilya places some gratuitous nudity and cleavage into the script, and the depiction of Lear's daughter Regan as sometimes pale and sometimes dark-skinned is confusing. Still, both books are likely to draw manga readers further into Shakespeare's plays, and students of the Bard may get new ideas about how his works can be presented to modern audiences.–Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT END

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