With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.
This Week’s Book: Kill Shakespeare by Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col, and Andy Belanger
The Premise: Hamlet and many of Shakespeare’s other popular heroes find themselves at odds with the bard’s greatest villains as they embark on a quest to find (and possibly kill?) the master playwright (and wizard) William Shakespeare.
The Pitch: Much like Fables did for faery tales and many other projects have done with various mythologies, Kill Shakespeare takes many of the best-known characters from Shakespeare’s works (i.e., Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Lady Macbeth, etc.) and tells a story that weaves all of these characters and their respective stories together into a single adventure. In this case, that adventure has the heroes off on a quest to find the elusive wizard-god Will Shakespeare. The villains, on the other hand, seek to kill Shakespeare (as the title of the series implies) and use his reality-bending quill for their own purposes.
With a title as compelling as “Kill Shakespeare,” the series is already off to a good start when it comes to attracting attention. The story’s cast of well-known characters only adds to the mainstream appeal, and offers a great entrance point for most audiences.
Given the size of the world in Kill Shakespeare and the epic nature of the characters’ quest, television seems like the right medium to tell McCreery and Del Col’s story – especially since there’s little need for complicated special effects. The popularity of current shows like “Grimm” and “Once Upon A Time” make it easy to see the possibilities of a “Kill Shakespeare” television series, and if the project receives the sort of nurturing that one of the cable networks like SyFy can provide, the sky’s the limit.
As for casting, the absence of iambic pentameter from the dialogue in Kill Shakespeare opens up the project up to a wide range of actors — though the ability to utter the occasional “thee” and “thou” is still a necessity. Give the parts to thespians with some decent Shakespeare chops and a good sense of television timing, and audiences shouldn’t have any problem accepting the literature-fueled world in which the series takes place.
The Closing Argument: Imagine a new adventure each week featuring Hamlet, Juliet, and Othello battling the armies of King Richard III and Lady Macbeth, all while racing across the land to be the first to find the mysterious Will Shakespeare and his magic quill. Not only is there an overarching narrative that will tie together the series, but the intermingling of famous heroes and villains from Shakespeare’s stories could make for some fascinating one-shot stories, too.
Boasting one of the most attention-grabbing titles you’re going to see on a project, Kill Shakespeare should have little difficulty making the leap from page to screen. Here’s hoping we get to see this fresh spin on the bard’s universe get a look from a network or two with the chops to do it right.