Monday, April 18, 2011

II.ii. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern - Classics Illustrated

The original
The original Classics Illustrated omits this entire sequence, though R&G ARE characters in the comic. They are introduced at the Scene's proper start and are not seen again until after the play within a play. This allows the comic to avoid the ribald pleasantries as well as the theatrical gossip which were no doubt considered either inappropriate or irrelevant to the target audience.

The Berkley version
While the sequence does appear in artist Tom Mandrake's vision, it is cut for brevity. The effect is akin to jump cuts, moving the exchange along almost too quickly. The foppish R&G are discovered almost right away, Hamlet moving from dropping his book in joy to accusations in the space of a single panel. He then heads into his speech, still without R&G reacting. Note the visual link to "I have an eye of you" in the following panel.Though not shown at that point, it underscores the point of the page/sequence: Hamlet's piercing gaze uncovering the duo's duplicity. R&G don't even get to snicker at "man delights not me" in this version, Hamlet volunteering "nor woman neither" without being prompted. The action is rather strangely staged:
What is Hamlet doing? With the interaction gone, he seems to have a violent fit motivated by self-loathing, but perhaps also hatred for his parents (man and woman). The line is turned into an attack of the unfaithful couple, into hatred that we know is at least partly transferred to his other relationships (Ophelia, R&G).

Hamlet once again changes his mood when he hears of the Players (a change that seems more extreme by virtue of the above panel's intensity) and though the gossip is cut, the admission of partial madness is retained. R&G's lines suffer so many cuts that Hamlet is almost in soliloquy mode through most of the sequence, and since he has an audience, the soliloquy might better be called a rant.

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