Monday, September 28, 2009

I.ii. The Wedding Banquet - Classics Illustrated

The Original
As previously stated, the wedding banquet does not appear in the original Comics Illustrated adaptation whose focus is on "adventures for boys". A wedding would seem to go against that. The adaptation leaves Laertes' introduction to Scene 3, which admittedly, covers his leaving for France as a plot point.

The Berkley versionTom Mandrake's adaptation cuts very little from this section of the play, keeping the rant about Fortinbras' ambitions, though predictably cutting the appearance of Voltimand and Cornelius. Introducing characters requires panels, and the comic's relatively low page count often requires it to do entire speeches in one panel, as above. The problem with this is that the artist cannot change a character's emotion mid-speech, and things play out all the more flatly in static shots. For example, in this panel, though Claudius says of Fortinbras "So much for him," there is no accompanying action. It's like the character is just dismissing Fortinbras out of hand (which I suppose he does), but not even with the proper physical punctuation to get the crowd's response. Also cut is Claudius' thanks to the Court for going along with the royal wedding.
Mandrake's Laertes is timid when begging to Claudius, in line with performances that play on the line "dread lord". Comics tend to physically caricature the characters, so Claudius is something of a rough sort and Laertes wise to be afraid of him. By contrast, Polonius is drawn as a kindly old man, creating an unshakable sympathy for the character that makes his death seem undeserved. I prefer my Polonius with a dark streak (as mandated by the full text). The overall effect here is that Claudius is a bully and that despite his honey-laden words, he is just using both Polonius and Gertrude for political gain.

I'm afraid the images lack the subtlety to really carry the play's truths, and the contrast between words and action is a harsh one.

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