Kill Shakespeare, a comics/graphic novel series that cleverly reshuffles characters from across Shakespeare’s fictional universe into one big swashbuckling mystery/adventure tale, continues to expand its reach with the release Kill Shakespeare: A Tale of Blood by Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery and artist Andy Belanger, the series’ third trade paperback collection, at New York Comic Con 2013. The creators are also teaming with the publisher IDW to release a board game based on the series and interest from film and TV as well as the educational market continues to grow.
Series creators Del Col, McCreary and Belanger have worked to turn the story/concept of Kill Shakespeare, A YALSA great graphic novels pick for libraries and a Joe Shuster Award winner, into a platform that can be developed into multiple media. There are the original and continuing comics and graphic novel collections of Kill Shakespeare and digital editions in addition to live stage readings, a forthcoming omnibus edition, an annotated scholarly collection—“we’ve got a team of scholars who have gone over every panel in the comic and pulled out the references,” Del Col said—and a free online teachers guide offering user-generated material about the series from teachers is in the work.
The creators will be at New York Comic Con to launch A Tale of Blood, the newest volume in the series in which the two creators take Shakespeare’s “greatest lovers” and turn their story into “Romeo VS Juliet,” Del Col said during a phone interview, “we put them at each other’s throats.” Take Shakespeare’s extraordinary characters and plays, shake them up and reassign the characters—with their original traits and psychological drive intact—to new adventures and new challenges. It’s a creative formula that has worked.
The first volume of Kill Shakespeare has gone through six printings and sold more than 20,000 copies; volume two has sold about 8,500 copies.
Education, new media and new formats are also part of the Kill Shakespeare DNA. Kill Shakespeare, the board game, McCreary said, was developed along with their publisher IDW in partnership with European games producer Pandasaurus Games. The publisher is launching IDW Games, a new gaming division, and the Kill Shakespeare board game is launching in 2014 along with other IDW game properties, “In-depth, immersive games,” McCreery said.
From the beginning, the series attracted teachers as well as Shakespeare nerds. The plan, said Del Col, is eventually to use the Kill Shakespeare website as a kind of clearinghouse for teacher generated-resources on how to use the comic to teach Shakespeare—"we’re trying to make Kill Shakespeare a gateway to Shakespeare,” McCreery said.
The creators, originally independent filmmakers, continue to develop the series as a film and TV project as well as a stage production. In 2011 KS was produced as a live stage reading—like a radio play with live actors, music and sound effects along with screen projections of Andy Belanger’s artwork, Del Col said. The reading was also produced by different theater companies in Halifax, Chicago and Dubai. “Between 2011 and 2012 five or six theaters did the stage show,” he said.
When they’re not translating the series into new formats, Del Col and McCreery are traveling to promote the Kill Shakespeare comic. “25 shows a year between the two of us, “ Del Col said highlighting the long process of developing as well as marketing the series . “It’s been great; an adventure of Shakespearean proportions.”