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Play script 💤 or graphic novel 💬 ?

A comparison image showing a section of Act 1 Scene 2 from Shakespeare's The Tempest and a full-colour panel with the same text from Classical Comics' Original Text graphic novel.

If you're struggling to understand your assigned Shakespeare play have you ever thought of reading it alongside a graphic novel?

There are many reasons why Shakespeare can seem confusing or complicated at first. Sometimes his plays can be hard to appreciate in their cold script form and that’s why we adapted them into our graphic novels. They work in classrooms to show you, your fellow students and the most reluctant readers that studying Shakespeare doesn’t have to be “boring”. Our books are vibrant, true to the time period and are drawn by talented comic book artists.

This is the Original Text graphic novel of The Tempest. It is 144 pages of the unabridged Shakespeare play in full-colour throughout. As you can see in this panel comparison we have included every word of the play.

The graphic novel format allows you to understand the story a little quicker than you might have just reading the script. You are able to see the emotion of the speech in the characters and watch the story unfold like watching a play.

A play brings Shakespeare’s words to life through performance. They incorporate actors, costumes, sets, and music to create a multi-sensory experience to captivate your imagination. Similarly, the performance of Shakespeare’s plays can also be experienced with a graphic novel. Where watching a play live or on screen isn’t possible, a graphic novel can offer an understanding and appreciation of a Shakespeare play that reading text alone might struggle to deliver.

And if the Original Text (original, unabridged Shakespeare) is a little too much at this stage, we offer two further text versions: Plain Text (plain modern English) or Quick Text (reduced dialogue) – all using the same full-colour artwork – allowing a classroom of pupils, of any ability, to effectively read from the ‘same’ page.

Shakespeare’s plays are brilliant stories as well as being great verse but if you are initially put off by his rhythmic iambic pentameters there’s a danger of dismissing them as simply ‘boring’.

"So which version of our Shakespeare graphic novels is best?" I hear you ask. "Original, Plain or Quick?” Well for me it's Plain Text every day of the week and twice on Sunday! Our Plain Text translation is brilliant for easily checking and understanding what Shakespearean words mean and it also is great for easily immersing you into the story. Then before you know it you've read AND UNDERSTOOD a Shakespeare play.

Quick Text does exactly what it says on the tin. It has reduced dialogue so it is even quicker to understand than the literal Plain Text translation.

Some common questions we get asked and the answer to all of them is “NO!”:

  • “Are you dumbing down Shakespeare?”
  • “But you modernise Shakespeare, don't you?”
  • “Is your Original Text Shakespeare abridged?”
  • “Shakespeare is boring isn’t it?”
  • “It's not possible to teach Shakespeare to mixed abilities. Do you agree?”
  • "Your graphic novels won't encourage reluctant readers will they?”

So maybe give a graphic novel a try. You never know, you might enjoy it.