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Interview With Authors Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery

Yesterday, I told you about a great event (happening tonight in Washington, D.C., at the Folger Shakespeare Theater) with Authors Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, who co-wrote Kill Shakespeare a graphic novel that mixes classic literature and fantasy.  I’ve got another treat for you from the authors, an exclusive interview in which they discuss their inspiration for the graphic novel and the role of graphic novels in today’s society and literature.

Without further ado, here are Anthony and Conor:

Kill Shakespeare seems to be a graphic novel that mixes classic literature with fantasy.  Did you or your colleagues read Shakespeare’s work before writing the graphic novel?  How long ago have you read those plays and did you enjoy them?

A: I’ve been a fan of the Bard’s work for years – since high school. But it wasn’t until after I graduated from university and started to see theatrical performances of his plays with my sister – who has always been a HUGE Bardolater – that his stories and characters really came alive for me.

C: I was like most students. I read a number of Shakespeare’s work in high-school. I enjoyed all of the plays I read with my favorites being The Tempest and Julius Caesar.

What was your main reason for adapting Shakespeare’s characters into a graphic novel with fantasy elements?

C: We didn’t have a main reason per se. The idea of a world where Shakespeare’s characters co-exist came to us and comics ended up being the right medium for us. A.) because the stage and comics have so much in common. Both are at their best when there are elements that are larger than life, and both are visual mediums than also really reward the poeticism of language.

And B.) a comic was something we felt we could do at a high level right out of the gate. Especially once we found the very talented Andy Belanger as our artist.

A: Shakespeare’s plays feature many great dramatic elements, including fantasy – drama, violence, love, romance, comedy, double-crossing and cross-dressing. It’s the height of storytelling. And we wanted to add as many of these elements into our tale as possible.

The images in your graphic novel are vivid. How did these images come to pass? Were they extrapolated from Shakespeare’s actual text?

A: A lot of the credit goes to our artist, Andy. Andy, in our first meeting, talked about adding a lot of detail to each and every panel, so that each would tell its own story. He’s done a significant amount of research into the time period and the costumes used in Shakespeare’s plays, and then done a lot of stylistic additions to them.

C: We definitely worked to find great “bits” from Shakespeare’s canon that Andy could play with (Hamlet’s Father’s ghost, some of the gory bits from Titus), but it is Andy’s imagination that gives flesh to ours.

Working with a co-writer and a graphic artist must take a lot of time and collaboration. Please describe any writing routines or techniques you employed during the process to ensure the project was completed.

C: We really just talk things out with each other and with Andy. One of us tends to write an issue and the other guy edits it. And then Andy puts in his thoughts and we sort of push and pull until we get something everyone can at least live with.

A: And, of course, when there is an argument, everything is settled with a simple game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. . .

What role do you think graphic novels play in the world of literature, and do you think that they help readers ease into reading other genres, including classics like Shakespeare?

A: Graphic novels have been fighting for years to be seen as a credible piece of literature. I think this is a shame. I myself used to hold the opinion that comic books are just superhero stories for children but when I started to read some of the recent (past ten years) titles I came away really impressed – Y The Last Man, The Walking Dead, Blankets, Fables.

C: I think the question unintentionally sheds light on a big part of the problem comics have. Comics are NOT a genre. They are a MEDIUM that encompasses every genre. In North America, we’ve been slow to realize what the Europeans and Japanese have known for decades – that comics are a sophisticated medium that can be used for limitless thematic purposes. If you’re a reader, I GUARANTEE I could find you a comic you’d enjoy if you gave it a chance.

Today, Feb. 15, you’ll be speaking at Washington, D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Library. What prompted the visit and do you have any specific plans for the event?

C: I chatted with people at the Folger well over a year ago when we were just starting the project and got them excited by our vision. THEY were the ones who so foolishly invited Canucks into their midst. But I think they were intrigued by the opportunity to show how the perception of “stuffy Shakespeare” is more a dead stereotype than reality. The Folger is really hip in their relation to the Bard, they are trendsetters as well as the keepers of the flame.

A: Some of the best reviews have been by Shakespeare fans who have never read a comic book before but after reading ours have started to read others. I hope that we can convert some Bardolaters to comic book readers while there!

What other projects are you working on?

A: Kill Dickens? We’ve love to continue our series beyond the current twelve issues that we have scheduled at the moment, and then see if we can get a film version of Kill Shakespeare off the ground. We have a lot of interest in it and we’ll see what happens in the next six-twelve months.

C: And Anthony and I had worked on a number of projects before this one. A neat kids show set in the world of rock-paper-scissors, a very fun comedy involving outsourcing, a kitchen-sink family drama, a vampire epic — we have interests in a lot of very different types of story. Hopefully our work with Kill Shakespeare will give us a chance to tell those stories.

I, for one, would love to see a series of Kill Dickens, but only if that entails that mysterious Edwin Drood.

Thanks to both of you, Anthony and Conor, for answering these questions. I wish you luck with the novel and the event. Most of all have fun.

Dear readers, please do check out the YouTube video, and some great graphics from the book, here, here, and here.

About the Authors:

Anthony Del Col has worked in the music, film and television industries, produced two independent feature films and most recently assisted with the management of international pop star Nelly Furtado and her world tour.

Conor McCreery has served in both creative and business positions for film and television companies, contributed over 1,000 stories and articles for media outlets and also provided expert analysis for Canada’s Business News Network.

Andy Belanger works out of the Toronto-based Royal Academy of Illustration & Design and has done work for comic book publishers D.C. Wildstorm, Devil’s Due, and Boom! He is the creator of Zuda Comics’ “Bottle of Awesome”.

Interested in attending tonight’s event?  Authors Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery will be at the Washington, D.C., Folger Shakespeare Theater on February 15, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 each.