Sunday, January 26, 2014

IV.vii. Claudius' Seduction - Classics Illustrated

The original
One of the side-effects of converting Hamlet to a "boys' adventure" comic is that while many scenes are reduced to a single panel or even caption, the ones that feature ghosts or swordplay are expanded. This is how this scene, despite extensive cuts in the dialog, comes out to almost four pages. This is achieved by having the plotters both flash back to moments prior to the play or imagine their plot coming to fruition. So for example, the story of Lamond (though note the alternative spelling) is recounted and seen:
As gratuitous a panel as they come, though it presents the Normand's prowess on horseback without actually mentioning it. The next panel has Hamlet sparring with him and admitting his jealousy of Laertes, clumsily re-purposing Claudius' line into "I wish and beg Laertes sudden coming o'er to play with him." We then see Laertes' successfully getting his revenge; we're into fantasy.
And strangely, after Laertes gets his poison out, a caption tells us the King has his own poison, not making it clear Laertes is told this.
As a staging idea, it's interesting. The King could speak those lines as an aside and let Laertes believe he is indeed the best swordsman in the land instead of impugning his abilities with his back-up plan.

The Berkley version
Taking the opposite tack, the more modern adaptation doesn't use the scene at all, which may turn out to be a mistake. In a film, moments and expression can make clear that props have been poisoned, that the plotters are working together, and so forth. In a comic, it is much more difficult given the space available. Meaningful cuts to a face, a weapon, a cup, may not come across the same way. We'll see.

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