Ira Glass and the History of Shakespearean Criticism

So, as everyone knows, earlier this week NPR radio star Ira Glass ignited a firestorm by daring to voice his opinion about Shakespeare, writing the following tweets:

Unsurprisingly, the pro-Shakespeare crowd has been having a field day with this. As the world's leading (i.e. probably the world's the only) Shakesperean webcomic blogger, I feel obliged to address the matter. So here...

It's like chocolate. Some people don't like chocolate - I think they're crazy, and they don't know what they're missing, but I'm certainly not going to argue with them about it. It's a personal thing. People have been busy disliking Shakespeare for centuries, but Shakespeare is still here. And so is chocolate. I happen to think the world is a better place because both of those things exist, but people are free to disagree with me. 

Basically, my only quarrel with Mr. Glass is the utterly pedestrian terms he uses to attack Shakespeare. "Shakespeare sucks" is such a bland and banal statement when compared to George Bernard Shaw's devastating "it would positively be a relief to me to dig [Shakespeare] up and throw stones at him." If you're going to criticize Shakespeare, do it emphatically and with some flair. 


So, I was planning to do a witty piece commenting on the entertaining "Ira Glass thinks Shakespeare sucks" kerfuffle that has been raging across Shakespearean social media accounts, but then the electricity at my house went out. So you have this instead:


In case you're wondering what other Shakespearean quotes work well during power outages, I can also recommend shrieking "Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell!" Just be forewarned - this tends to alarm people. 

The Ladies of Angiers, part 3

After spending Monday and Wednesday with the irrepressible Ladies of Angiers, I am sad to finally be saying farewell to them. They don't care. They're too busy boozing it up. 

Well, when we last left the Ladies, they had just fended off yet another attempt by John and Philip to strongarm them into declaring an allegiance...

OK, so somewhere along the way I totally abandoned the actual plot of King John, but never mind. This it how it should have ended. Everyone's much happier this way. Don't argue. 

Thanks to Brigit WilsonCarmen Grant, and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings for letting me co-opt their Elizabethan alter-egos for a week! 

The Ladies of Angiers, part 2

We follow up my post on Monday with a further look at the scandalous lives of the Ladies of Angiers (Brigit WilsonCarmen Grant, and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings), liberated from the pages of King John

On the left they are gambling with the Earl of Salisbury, while on the right Chatillon is serving them drinks at the poolside. Angiers is clearly the party town of the Loire Valley.

Anyways, here they are, back in King John again for some more negotiations.

I hasten to point out that, apart from the compulsive gambling habit, this comic is, in fact, totally true to the plot of King John, which could be uncharitably subtitled as "The Play Where Not One, But Two Kings Kind Of Act Like Idiots".

We round off the Ladies of Angiers on Friday. Stop by! There will be drinks*.

*There will not be actual drinks.

The Ladies of Angiers, part 1

My position as official/self-appointed Shakespearean internet humorist has given me licence to do things like stalk various Shakespearean actors on social media, under the guise of keeping my finger on the pulse of the Shakespearean zeitgeist. I particularly enjoy the little glimpses they offer into the backstage life of a production. And then sometimes they post things like this:

These are three lovely company members of the Stratford Festival (Brigit Wilson, Carmen Grant, and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings), who, over the past month, have been making the most of their roles as citizens of Angiers in the current candle-lit Original Practices production of King John. Now, I have scoured the text of King John, and nowhere do I find reference to either powder pink mopeds or bowling, so I am forced to admit that the self-styled Ladies of Angiers, despite their sober Elizabethan garb, have strayed rather monumentally from the Original Practices doctrine. However, I think we can all agree that that is to the greater benefit of the world at large.

Follow @HOOPOOHEART for the latest Ladies of Angiers adventures. I, meanwhile, have taken the liberty of re-inserting them back into King John...

Join us again on Wednesday for more Ladies of Angiers action!

Fun Facts About "King John"

So, I'm counting down the days until I get to go to the Stratford Festival. One of the Shakespeare plays they are performing this season is King John, which is definitely one of the less-popular Shakespeare plays. I saw it once on stage before, at Stratford in 2004, and have watched the 1984 BBC Shakespeare TV adaptation, but have never sat down and studied it. I'm in the process of reading the play, but here's what I've picked up so far from my other bits of research:


I hope you read that carefully, because I've got a couple more King John comics lined up for next week! 

Chim Chim Chimney

After all the excitement of the Shakespeare World Cup, I thought I would sneak a non-Shakespeare comic in here, just for a change.

As some of you might know, when not occupied drawing Shakespeare cartoons or cataloging books for Southeast Asia I can often be found at my local rock climbing gym, getting into all sorts of literal scrapes. Recently my gym put up a new route that mimics chimneys, or rock fissures that are wide enough to fit your entire body in them. In order to climb them you have to sort of wedge yourself in the chimney and use your body tension to inch your way upwards. It kind of looks like this:

Not me. I found this photo on this blog, and the climber's expression perfectly sums up my opinion of chimney climbing, so I borrowed it.

Not me. I found this photo on this blog, and the climber's expression perfectly sums up my opinion of chimney climbing, so I borrowed it.

It's not very common to see chimney routes in gyms, so I was very excited to see one in my gym. This is what happened when I tried to climb it. 

The friction coefficient of my gym shorts has never seemed so important. (In case you're wondering, I did eventually make it up, thanks to my climbing partner's patience and advice.)

Check out my other rock climbing comics here. Normal Shakespearean service will resume on Friday!