Saturday, August 27, 2011

III.i. Briefings - Classics Illustrated

The original
The sequence does not appear in the 1952 comic. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are given a mission, but we never see them on it, nor report back to the King. As for the set-up to Ophelia's encounter with Hamlet, space considerations leave it to the plan being first mentioned in Act II.

The Berkley versionTom Mandrake's adaptation, however, gives the sequence a full - and unusually sunny - page. Space is still a concern, with cuts both in dialog and images changing the "staging" of the sequence. R&G's report, for example, now amounts to a single line ("He does confess himself...") and does not include the invitation to the play. This omission actually highlights an irony in the play. In the play, Claudius makes a show of happiness to hear Hamlet has found joy in the Players. He then goes on to spy on the prince and set things in motion for his exile. Here, there is no false show of emotion, and that's perhaps because Gertrude has been cut entirely from the scene.

Compressing so much dialog into so few panels has a powerful effect. It rushes things. There is greater momentum to the story, but it also changes how we might perceive any given exchange. For example, it here looks like Claudius is informing R&G of his plans for Ophelia. While most stagings of the play have made Polonius say his "We are oft to blame in this" speech to Claudius (sharing the "we"), here he says it to Ophelia, a rare apology from the character. Needs must. There is no space, nor any compositional advantage, to craft panels with the correct expressions and facing characters to properly interpret each exchange and nuance. Reading these comics, it is clear that Hamlet is a drama meant to be ACTED.

No comments: