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Hamlet, Richard III Plot To 'Kill Shakespeare'

Cover of 'Kill Shakespeare'

In Kill Shakespeare, Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col's graphic novel, the Bard's heroes and villains conspire to track down the evil wizard, William Shakespeare.

The series brings all of Shakespeare's trademarks to its panels -- action, drama, lust, violence, double-crossing and cross-dressing.

McCreery says you might be surprised at how big the crossover is between Shakespeare and comic books. "Kill Shakespeare's actually really done a nice job of reaching out to ... the hard-core comic fan," he tells NPR's Neal Conan. "But we've also had a lot of first-time readers of comics come in because they're really interested in this whole mash-up of the Bard we're doing."

Kill Shakespeare, therefore, hits the sweet spot between "the person who grew up loving Spiderman, and the person who grew up at least curious about Hamlet."

Del Col admits they're toying around with the timelines for the characters a bit. For instance, they take Hamlet directly from the play. In the play, Hamlet is banished from Denmark and sailing off with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, when the ship is attacked by pirates.

That action takes place off-stage, but in Kill Shakespeare, the authors recreate the attack. The pirates throw Hamlet off the ship, and he washes ashore where he meets Richard III, and the plot takes off from there.

"We have Richard, who's a historical character, but we also have Juliet, we have Othello," says Del Col. "We take them from their plays and we mash their stories and their timelines together."

Andy Belanger, the artist McCreery and Del Col chose for the project, was the right one for the comic. Del Col remembers, "we just loved his enthusiasm."

Within five minutes of their first conversation, Del Col says Belanger slammed his hand down on the table and exclaimed, "I've always wanted to draw Lady Macbeth. She's just so hot!"

McCreery, Del Col and Belanger have signed on for a 12-issue series. They'd love to take it beyond 12, but the 12 tell a complete story.

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