Tuesday, July 19, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Classics Illustrated

The originalThe speech is mostly omitted from this adaptation as again, the First Player never moved Hamlet to pronounce it. What we keep is this explanation of why Hamlet asked for The Murder of Gonzago in the previous panel. As usual, this comic is almost entirely focused on plot rather than character. Note the educational note to explain the word "blench".

The Berkley version
"Now I am alone" is not spoken, but shown in the topmost panel:
Tom Mandrake's adaptation is much more concerned with mood and tries to retain as many of the famous lines as possible. Though the Player didn't get to do the Priam speech, Mandrake keeps most of the speech intact, cutting only specific references to the Player's performance. So in this version, Hamlet chastises himself for not having acted yet as a prologue to detailing his plan to catch the King's conscience. It's a well done sequence that resolves the question of when Hamlet thought of the Mouse-Trap smoothly, while keeping the self-doubt of the first part of the speech. In many performances, the second part of the speech is a reaction to the first. Hamlet accuses himself of inaction, so decides to act. Here, the first part explains the second, with Hamlet telling us why he has now chosen to act. Of course, a lot of this is thanks to the comics medium itself. Hamlet doesn't really go through a number of emotions and expressions, because the number of panels is limited. (In fact, there's a very interesting re-use of the same panel twice, as speech bubbles flow back and forth between panels. It's a surprising use of page lay-out, even more so because it works smoothly and doesn't create confusion in the reader.) The page is read far faster than the speech could be delivered, and though it is technically comprised of three "panels", the lack of borders turns it into a single moment. This all helps create a unity of idea behind Hamlet's words instead of the oft-played "turn" in the middle of the soliloquy.

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