Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery are the co-creators and writers of the IDW series Kill Shakespeare. They will be speaking at The Folger Shakespeare Library on Tuesday (I will be there — I wrote it down months ago). In preparation, they were kind enough to answer my questions via e-mail.
Comicsgirl: I like that Kill Shakespeare includes a broad range of Shakespearean characters, from the ones everyone knows to ones that are more obscure. How did you pick which characters you wanted to include?
Conor McCreery: We always joke that they chose us. After the main characters, though, we did do a bit more work on choosing the cast. Oddly enough we agonized a lot more over the inclusion of the Parolles and Philip the Bastards of the world then we did over Iago or Juliet.
Anthony Del Col: As Conor said, the main characters came very naturally to us. We immediately could see Juliet and Othello fighting together, Falstaff serving as a comedic sidekick/mentor, and Lady Macbeth and Richard III fighting against them. Hamlet was the last main character that we realized should be in it, which is a tad surprising as he is the main character. But once we realized we need to include him it brought everything together.
CG: How do you balance the legacy of Shakespeare with the need to keep the story moving and accessible? Do you feel like you have any responsibility to stay true to the spirit of Shakespeare?
ADC: We’re trying to make Kill Shakespeare appeal to those that love the Bard (by playing fantastic ‘What if?’ games and including Easter Eggs) but – just as important – making his work accessible in a whole new way to new audiences. We know that we could never write anything better than Shakespeare does. He is the best writer of all time – no debate on that. However, we’re trying to shine a spotlight on his characters in a very interesting, unique manner.
CM: True to the spirit? Absolutely. We VERY much want to tell a story that has sophisticated human emotion and that is, at its core, a humanist tale. But we don’t feel too much responsibility to regurgitate
scenes or tropes from Shakespeare’s plays – at least not ALL of them, GRIN.
CG: The reaction overall has been very positive. Have any of the reactions surprised you?
CM: It is always a pleasant surprise when people like your work. I think I might have been a bit surprised at how much intellectual rigor has gone into the criticism (both good and bad) of the work. That’s actually
ADC: The best reactions are the reviews where the writer states that reading Kill Shakespeare has made them want to go back to re-explore a play that they had read/watched in their pasts. Or, on the flip side, hearing from people that are big Shakespeare fans but have never read a comic book before and now want to check out other series. Those are the best reviews we could ever receive.
CG: Neither of you really had much of a background in comics before this. What do you find satisfying about the medium of comics? How does it compare to the other media you’ve worked in?
ADC: I love the instant – and unfiltered – feedback. It’s very creatively fulfilling to be able to put out an issue and talk about it with fans and readers to see what they liked and what they didn’t like. We’ve tweaked aspects of our story as we’ve gone on based on this feedback. I also like that comic readers are very honest with their feedback – if they like or don’t like something, they are NOT shy to tell you. It’s quite refreshing.
CM: I think the speed at which your ideas become reality is very satisfying. Working in film and TV takes a long time and you never know when the whole thing could come unplugged. I’ve also loved the ability of comics to be the perfect delivery system for both melodrama and delicate emotion. Plus in a comic if you want 600 guys on horses charging a 2,000 person army of lizard men, well, you just have to buy your artist a lot of beer.
CG: After Kill Shakespeare wraps up, what are your future plans?
ADC: More Kill Shakespeare, hopefully! We’d love to continue the series beyond the current twelve-issue arc and know what subsequent stories could involve. We’ve had a lot of people ask for more so we’ll see if we can make it happen. We really love working on this series and it would be a dream to be able to continue.
CM: We also had a kid’s show we did together that we’d love to find a home for. And of course we both have a lot of projects that have gathered dust while we worked on Kill Shakespeare. It would be a dream come true if this work gave us the credibility to move some of that forward.
Check back tomorrow for my review of Kill Shakespeare: Vol. 1