Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Hamlet On A Rooftop

Only Will Eisner would adapt Shakespeare for fun. Hamlet On A Rooftop appeared in Will's seminal bible for aspiring cartoonists Comics & Sequential Art, but I'm almost certain it appeared in a few other places before that. As you'd expect, it's a masterclass in page construction, characterization & storytelling. Will is obviously the stage director of this performance, but he's the actor too, choosing where to break up the bard's text, panel by panel, making sure you read it at the pace, and with the inflection, he wants you to.
Every writer/artist does this, of course, but it's never more obvious than in this piece. I saw an interview once with Frank Miller, who said a cartoonist has to be really smart to slow the reader down, whereas a movie director just has to leave the camera running. Will Eisner was really smart.


  1. Eisner was a genius. He could do classics like Moby Dick and Shakespeare and make them fun and easy to learn and understand how to read them. Take that Classics Illustrated and Crib notes!

  2. Wow, this stuff looks really amazing. To translate Hamlet into animation is an awesome idea and I will be looking for more of Eisner’s work for sure. I can see what you mean by Eisner being the director of this animated performance. What vision and talent it must take to pull this off! I am constantly on the lookout for alternative approaches and perspectives on the works of Shakespeare so thanks for this. In keeping with the same train of thought, if any of you out there need a fresh take on Hamlet or any other play, you really should check out this site called Shmoop. Smart, irreverent, and unbiased, I found it to be full of interesting opinions and resources as well.

  3. Hi Kimberlyn, apologies if I've got the wrong end of the stick and you've already seen some of Will Eisner's work before this, but it sounds like this might be your first exposure to The Master. If so, I can't resist: You need to check out Will's 'A Contract With God' ( which I'll be covering here ), his adaptation of Moby Dick, 'New York: The Big City', ' The Best Of The Spirit' and, ok, look, just buy ANYTHING with Will's name on it. You won't regret it.