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Rebuilding Shakespeare: Manga

Sven-Arve Myklebost
University of Bergen

This article addresses adapting in a transmedial manner works of art, generally, and plays by William Shakespeare, specifically. It canvasses the potential and limitations of manga comic books as interpreters and conveyers of the complex poetic structures of Shakespeare’s plays, structures which are wholly verbal, but which are reconstructed with different tools and materials, namely the complex visual/verbal form of the iconotext. The essay argues that these processes may be discussed and measured by the concept of ekphrasis, considering the artistic, philosophical and critical engagement that is made necessary in the act of transmediating or, more precisely, rebuilding the works of Shakespeare. Hence, the article investigates the semiotic play and conventions of comic books and mangas with which the British publishing house Self Made Hero has attempted to recreate The Tempest, Hamlet, Richard III, and Romeo and Juliet, in their Shakespeare Manga series.

Adaptation, transmediation, graphic novel, manga, Shakespeare, semiotics, illustration, iconotext, editing history, Self Made Hero.



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