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Oh, I Can Smile About It Now…

Graeme McMillan

KILL SHAKESPEARE #1 is, in a way, a book that makes me feel that I’m not smart enough.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. What I mean is, the reaction to the book makes me feel that I’m not smart enough. I look at things like Tim Callahan’s scathing review over at CBR or Frank Miller’s Shakespeare scholar girlfriend’s rant at Bleeding Cool and think, clearly there’s something wrong with me that I actually kind of enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that it’s anything more than an entertaining populist detournment of Shakespeare’s characters that takes them into something closer to high concept action movie territory (The McGuffin, that Hamlet can only regain his destiny and free will by stealing the quill that belongs to a wizard whose name is William Shakespeare dances across the line of genius and stupid so often in my head that I really don’t know which side it really belongs on, to be honest), but that doesn’t mean it’s not entirely enjoyable on that level. I disliked reading Shakespeare enough in high school that I can only assume that complaints about mischaracterization are entirely valid, but it also feels to me that that’s missing the point, a little – that this is very clearly an INO use of those characters, taking the familiar names and settings and using them for entirely different, meta-textual and referential means.

(What I’m interested to see if whether there’s something to this reappropriation, or whether it’s just a gimmick. As much as I’m defending it above, I have an anxious desire that there’s something more to it than we get with the first issue – If it really turns into a case where the Shakespearean connection is merely a way to get readers’ attention and that the book doesn’t actually offer any true commentary on the original Shakespearean plays by the end of the series, I’ll be disappointed.)

Interestingly enough (to me, at least) is that I feel like the anti-Tim Callahan; while he hated the writing and liked the art, I’m pretty much the opposite. It’s not that Andy Belanger’s art is bad, but it’s wrong for this book, for me – It’s too clean, and too polite. I found myself wishing for the brushwork of a Stefano Gaudiano or the energy of a Davide Gianfelice, something to add texture and life to the story and make the period setting feel more authentic and dangerous. With a different artist, Kill Shakespeare could’ve been great; as it is, I still think it’s Good, even if that means I’m not as smart as I’d want to be.

8 Responses to “ Oh, I Can Smile About It Now… ”

  1. “INO”? Assuming you meant “In Name Only”, is that really a common enough acronym to throw in without explanation? Took me a few minutes searching to figure it out, finally finding it as the last definition on Urban Dictionary (behind a My Chemical Romance song).

    Oh, haven’t read the comic, but “Frank Miller’s Shakespeare scholar girlfriend” is one of the funniest and least expected word combinations I’ve seen in a while. I wonder if he runs his scripts to ALL STAR GODDAMN BATMAN by her for feedback…

  2. Yeah, In Name Only. Maybe it’s because I read too many political blogs (wherein “RINO” is a very common acronym, apparently), but I thought it was more widely known… Off to edit…!

  3. Yeah, I didn’t know what INO meant either, although I just let it go. I guess I shouldn’t be expected to know, as I read ONLY comic book stuff and can’t even spell politkal.

    Bob- that shit is FUNNY.

    Graeme- I appreciate that you are single handedly keeping this site rolling. You and brian have been doing the grunt work, so thanks.

    Abhay- in the sentence above, I accidentally spelled ‘doing’ as ‘dong’. Thought you should know.

  4. You disliked reading Shakespeare in high school? You are clearly the anti-matter version of me. How could ANYONE dislike Shakespeare?

    At least I have Frank Miller’s Shakespearean scholar girlfriend on my side! Wahoo!

  5. yo, I just read the girlfriends review on whatever Bleeding Cool happens to be, and if Kimberly Cox is a Shakespearian scholar “of note” I will eat my hat. Seriously, there’s no way. She could have studied the shit out of the man, but I guarantee NO ONE has noticed.

  6. To be fair, she did play “Damsel in Distress” in THE SPIRIT. Surely that worth more in Shakespearean scholarship terms than actually publishing anything about Shakespeare. And now she has a KILL SHAKESPEARE review on Bleeding Cool to add to her list of accomplishments.

  7. Mateo called it. Her most notable publications are the review on Bleeding Cool and a Twitter feed where she bitches about feminists and praises Glenn Beck’s 9/12 thing.

    Moving up in the world, Frank.

  8. “Abhay- in the sentence above, I accidentally spelled ‘doing’ as ‘dong’. Thought you should know.”

    Have you ever seen the Big Ben Cock twitter feed? ( It’s a gonadic variation on the more popular Big Ben Clock twitter feed–( It hasn’t really caught on. Still: there are 48 people, who every hour, on the hour, have a dong joke delivered to them; who are reminded of their great love of the word dong. Imagine making that decision, the decision to win at life. But, yeah, Shakespeare.

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