Shakespearean Halloween Party

It's Halloween! Let's celebrate the Shakespeare way!

In other news, I now have an Instagram account. Am I missing any major social networks now? I just can't keep up....

If you'd like to keep up with my social media activity without the hassle of joining all these various social networks, sign up for The Weekly Tickle Brain e-mail newsletter! In addition to a digest of Good Tickle Brain blog, the newsletter will contain highlights from my social media activity and exclusive Shakespearean book and film recommendations, plus occasional peeks behind the scenes at what it takes to be a Shakespearean webcomic artist. (Spoiler: it takes an abiding love of Shakespeare and surprisingly little artistic talent.)

The first issue will go out this coming Monday. Don't miss it!

Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Jamy

Our Shakespearean Character Spotlight of the day falls upon a very notable solider serving in the English army under Henry V. But he's not English. Ooooooh no. Most definitely not English. 

I must admit that I love the regional captains. They are never more stereotypically depicted than in the Laurence Olivier film adaptation of Henry V, where, quite apart from their ludicrously broad accents, each of them also has their nation's symbol (rose, leek, thistle and shamrock) emblazoned on their shirt, in case we ever got confused as to who was who. Politically correct? Not in the least, but then that's never stopped Shakespeare before.

Remember, you can now sign up for The Weekly Tickle Brain e-mail newsletter! Get a weekly digest of Good Tickle Brain activity, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes peeks and book/film recommendations, delivered to your Inbox each Monday!

Introducing... the Weekly Tickle Brain newsletter!

Apparently if you're running a blog/webcomic it's not enough to have the blog and the Twitter and the Facebook and the Tumblr (which I still haven't figured out how to use properly). You also have to have an e-mail newsletter, because apparently some people still use e-mail as their primary means of interacting with the internet.

And so today I am launching The Weekly Tickle Brain newsletter! If all goes to plan, The Weekly Tickle Brain will be delivered in your e-mail inbox every Monday, to start your week with a pleasant jolt of Shakespearean silliness. It will contain a digest of the past week's comics, as well as anything exciting that I might have posted on social media that didn't make it to the blog. 

It will also, and this is the part that excites me, contain a recommendation section where I plan to ramble on about any Shakespeare-related books or films that have popped up on my radar. This is exclusive content, or, as they say in more candid circles, shamelessly-not-available-on-the-blog-so-as-to-encourage-people-to-sign-up-for-the-newsletter content.

Anyways, enough idle chatter! I know you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start. The game's afoot! Follow your spirit and upon this charge cry "I'm going to sign up for the Weekly Tickle Brain!"

...that doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?

If you can think of any other kind of content that would make an e-mail newsletter particularly appealing to you, please feel free to leave a comment below, or send me a message through my Contact Me form. 

Voir Shakes-Dire

I was summoned for jury duty today. For those of my readers who aren't familiar with the process, voir dire is when prospective jurors are questioned by the attorneys to determine if they have any biases that might influence their judgement of the case. As I received my summons, the following scene flashed into my mind:

As it happened, my number was not called and I did not have to serve, so the world was spared my terrible interpretation of Portia's great speech from the Merchant of Venice

NOTE: I make light of it here, but I do take jury duty very seriously, and have served before. I certainly take it more seriously that Mr. Shakespeare, who somewhat cynically observes that:

"The jury, passing on the prisoner's life, 
May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two 
Guiltier than him they try."
Measure for Measure (2.1)

He's got a point, though...

St. Crispin's Day Special!

Tomorrow, October 25, is the feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispian, and consequently the 599th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, where Henry V's ragtag bunch of brave, marauding Englishman defeated a vastly superior French army. To celebrate, I've got not one, not two, but three different things to share with you!

First of all, a comic. As I've mentioned before, Laurence Olivier's 1944 film version of Henry V was what first sparked my present-day infatuation with Shakespeare. My father introduced me to it when I was about nine years old, but his own association with that particular movie goes back much further.

20141024-S-RetreatFromAgincourt.jpg

Apparently my grandfather thought the entire escapade was hilarious, and said it was "the greatest movie he almost saw". It was the only time either he or my father were ever thrown out of a movie theatre. 


The only reason anyone still mentions Crispin's Day today, of course, is because Shakespeare wrote a whopping great speech all about it, in which Henry psyches up his men before the big battle of Agincourt. It's a fantastic speech, and probably one of the first bits of Shakespeare that I memorized from start to finish.

Here's a video mash-up of six different Henrys giving six different renditions of the Crispin's Day speech. I'm running through them in chronological order, and each of them gets one verse line at a time. And so, without further ado, here are Laurence Olivier, Robert Hardy, David Gwillim, Kenneth Branagh, Jamie Parker and Tom Hiddleston!

As you can see, there are two broad types of Crispin's Day speeches: the bombastic and loud rallying cry bellowed to the troops, and the more introspective and private version shared with only a few captains. I happen to be a fan of the former, which is not to say there is anything wrong with the latter. The joy of Shakespeare is that his words can be endlessly interpreted and reinterpreted to suit the productions, the actors, and the times. (I will admit, though, that Olivier's classic delivery is nearest and dearest to my heart.)

If you want to see the full versions of some of these speeches, check out my Crispin's Day post from last year. 


Finally, here's a look at how depictions of Henry V's hair in popular culture have evolved over the past 70 years. 

Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but we have moved further and further away from the historical source material. Just an observation. 

Happy Crispin's Day (tomorrow) to everyone!

Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Gonzalo

Point One: Hurricane Gonzalo has recently battered Bermuda the British Isles.

Point Two: The random number generator I use to select which Shakespearean character I am going to feature in my weekly spotlight selected Gonzalo... from The Tempest...

Conclusion: Random number generators have sick and inappropriate senses of humor, and are also Shakespeare aficionados. I apologize.

Gonzalo is so Good and Honest and Kind that you sometimes want to smack him around a bit, but then you feel guilty about thinking such evil thoughts about such a Good and Honest and Kind person.

Tune in on Friday for Crispin's Day Special!

Great Old Octopus

Pray indulge a short, non-Shakespearean digression as we approach Halloween. I have a penchant for winter hats shaped like animals and/or monsters, and I recently acquired the following masterpiece from a shop in Stratford, ON.

It is, of course, a ski mask knitted to look like H.P. Lovecraft's iconic Elder God Cthulhu. Because why not? The tentacles do keep your face warm.

I've tried it out in the office a couple times, but the problem is that (with the exception of my awesome co-worker, who irresponsibly encouraged me to acquire the hat in the first place) nobody knows who Cthulhu is. Which means I've had the following conversation several times:

I'm an octopus.

We return to your regularly scheduled Shakespearean content on Wednesday.

Shakespearean Character Spotlight: Peter Bullcalf

Today our Shakespearean Character Spotlight random number generator alights upon a sturdy and morally-flexible country lad from Gloucestershire. 

As far as Falstaff's recruits go, Bullcalf is all well and good, and really drives home the point that FALSTAFF HAS NO MORALS, in case you hadn't realized that already. However, I've always been much more fond of his fellow recruit, the woman's tailor Francis Feeble. More on him later, I'm sure...