Dr. Faustus (in 3 Panels)

Marlowe May rolls on, with what is probably the most famous line ever penned by Christopher Marlowe. All together now…

WAS THIS THE FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND SHIPS, AND BURNT THE TOPLESS TOWERS OF ILIUM?

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As ever, thanks to my pocket dramaturg Kate Pitt for making sure I, a Marlowe neophyte, did justice to the play. Or at least as much justice as can be done in three panels.

Tune in next week for a look at the final two Marlowe masterpieces!

Upcoming Appearance

Next month I’m returning to my first and favorite comics event, the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival! I’m super-excited to be joining A2CAF for their 10th year anniversary. Stop by, say hi, and maybe pick up the free A2CAF 10th anniversary anthology, featuring an exclusive comic by yours truly!

  • WHO: Me! In person!

  • WHAT: Exhibiting in Artist’s Alley!

  • WHERE: Ann Arbor District Library, Downtown

  • WHEN: Saturday, June 15, 12:00pm-6:00pm, and Sunday, June 16, 12:30pm-5:30pm

  • WHY: Because it’ll be fun, and I’d love to see you there!

The Jew of Malta (in 3 Panels)

It’s Marlowe May! Everyone is familiar with Shakespeare’s Problematic Potentially Anti-Semitic Jewish Play, right? But did you know it’s a comparatively warm and fuzzy affair compared to Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, written around six years earlier?

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There’s… there’s just so much to unpack here…

Upcoming Appearance

Next month I’m returning to my first and favorite comics event, the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival! I’m super-excited to be joining A2CAF for their 10th year anniversary. Stop by, say hi, and maybe pick up the free A2CAF 10th anniversary anthology, featuring an exclusive comic by yours truly!

  • WHO: Me! In person!

  • WHAT: Exhibiting in Artist’s Alley!

  • WHERE: Ann Arbor District Library, Downtown

  • WHEN: Saturday, June 15, 12:00pm-6:00pm, and Sunday, June 16, 12:30pm-5:30pm

  • WHY: Because it’ll be fun, and I’d love to see you there!

Dido, Queen of Carthage (in 3 Panels)

It’s MARLOWE MAY! Every Tuesday and Thursday of this month we’ll be taking an extremely quick look at one of Christopher Marlowe’s plays, starting with Dido, Queen of Carthage!

Some more people die at the end too, but I didn’t have enough space to include them after drawing that pyre.

Shout-out to my pocket dramaturg, Kate Pitt, for consulting with me on this comic!

The Ohio Light Opera 2017 Season in 3 Panels Each!

It's almost time for my favorite light opera theatre company's season to start! The Ohio Light Opera kicks off their 2017 season this weekend. Let's see what they have in store for us this year...

We start off with a couple well-known musicals, the first being Meredith's Willson's magnum opus, The Music Man. 

So far so good. Next up is Cole Porter's Anything Goes. 

When you think about Anything Goes, you think about all the great song and dance numbers. You never think about the denouement with the dubious Chinese disguises. That's because it's stupid. 

OLO was kind enough to program the same Gilbert and Sullivan operetta that is playing at the Stratford Festival this year, so I didn't have to draw a new comic of it:

"THIS RESOLVES EVERYTHING SOMEHOW", a.k.a. the motto of most Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. I loves 'em.

From Gilbert and Sullivan to Gershwin, Primrose looks like a nice, typical, early American musical, with lots of couples getting mixed up.

Side note: I really resent drawing 3-panel plays of shows that have more than two couples in them, because it's a real pain to try and fit six or more people in a single panel. 

A lovely Ruritanian romance classic by Sigmund Romberg is up next:

There always has to be a bittersweet operetta in any OLO season to balance out all the frothy, lighthearted capering, and The Student Prince is this year's offering.

Next up is ONE OF MY FAVORITES AAAAAAAAAH I LOVE IT:

I love Countess Maritza. Apart from Die Fledermaus, it's probably my favorite of the Classical Viennese Operetta genre. The music is great and the plot is actually decent. The last OLO production of Maritza back in 2003 probably ranks as one of my top ten theatrical experiences of all time; I'm not even joking.

OK, next up we have this hot mess: 

Don't ask me any questions about this one. I have absolutely no answers, but it's currently in the running for this season's Stupidest Plot in a Musical or Operetta award. I absolutely can't wait to see it. If it's half as stupid as Herbert's Dream City and the Magic Knight, it'll be a real winner. 

And that's the Ohio Light Opera's 2017 season! If you're in Midwest, seriously think about checking them out - they've perfected the art of balancing the madcap stupidity and unapologetic melodrama of operetta and early American musicals, and it's always a delight to watch them. I can't wait to visit them in August!

Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival

In other news, I will be exhibiting at the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival (nee Kids Read Comics) this weekend! Stop by the downtown Ann Arbor District Library between 12:00pm and 5:30pm on Saturday and Sunday and say hello! I will be selling the usual t-shirts, posters, and comic books. It's going to be a lot of fun!

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The Stratford Festival 2017 Season... in 3 Panels!

Spring is in the air, which means the Stratford Festival's season is getting underway, so it's about time for me to put together a handy guide to the plays that will be appearing on their myriad stages this year. This season the theme is "Questions of Identity".

We start with one of my all-time favorite musicals:

Then we have one of my all-time favorite piratical swashbucklers:

And then this play. I guess it's a classic of some sort, I dunno...

From Shakespearean classic to Gilbert and Sullivan classic:

I've written a theme song for this next play. It goes like this: "Who lives in a hole and acts quite beastly? SPONGETIMON ATHENSPANTS! Embittered and dirty and misanthropic is he. SPONGETIMON ATHENSPANTS!"

Then, for all your gender-bending needs, we have what is probably my favorite Shakespearean comedy:

It may seem like writing a three-panel summary of a play is a fairly straightforward endeavor. Unfortunately, this is only true when the play itself is relatively straightforward, unlike our next offering:

"After many confusions" is code for "too much stupid stuff happened for me to adequately distill in this format."

Then it's time for a play by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Thomas Middleton:

There's a whole complicated subplot that I haven't even bothered to address here. Anyways. Keeping with the "bodies everywhere" theme, we have this classical offering:

Up next are a couple of new plays, so I may not be 100% accurate with these summaries. First is a follow-up to The Last Wife, Kate Hennig's play about the life of Katherine Parr. This one revolves around a young Elizabeth I and her highly-problematic relationship with Thomas Seymour:

The Breathing Hole is another new play by Colleen Murphy. I may not have all the details right, but the important thing to remember here is that it stars a polar bear.

These two new Canadian plays are followed by a pair of French plays, one classic:

...and one a bit more contemporary:

The final play of Stratford's season is The Komagata Maru Incident. It's framed in a very metatheatrical way, which I'm going to totally skip over here and just tell you what is being metatheatrically portrayed. 

(Stick figures don't do "metatheatrical" very well....)

And that's the Stratford Festival's 2017 season! Speaking of which, I will be participating in the Festival's Forum this season as part of a panel entitled "Willy Shakes: Fanboy". Here are the details:

WHO: Me and the Kill Shakespeare guys (Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery)
WHAT: A panel discussion on Shakespeare, comics, graphic novels, and whatever else.
WHEN: Tuesday, September 6, 10:45am
WHERE: The Chalmers Lounge at the Avon Theatre, Stratford, ON
WHY: Because they asked me to and it sounded really cool.
HOW: You can check out the details and buy tickets online!

If you're in the Stratford area, I hope to see you there!

Cardenio (in 3 Panels)

We continue our 3-panel play journey through Shakespeare's "apocrypha" with a closer look at Shakespeare's infamous lost play, Cardenio!

GET IT? BECAUSE IT'S LOST? HAHAHAHAHA I AM SO FUNNY

...ahem. But seriously, folks...

Cardenio, based off an episode from Miguel Cervantes's novel Don Quixote, is a lost play attributed to Shakespeare and his frequent collaborator John Fletcher. It is "lost" because, while we have a record of its existence and performance, it does not exist in manuscript or published form.

In the 18th century, editor Lewis Theobald claimed to have come into possession of several manuscripts of a hitherto unknown Shakespeare play, which he edited into Double Falsehood. The manuscripts he used have mysteriously disappeared. It's impossible to say if Double Falsehood is, indeed, Cardenio, but it seems to be as close as we're going to get to the lost play. 

If you really want to know what happened to Cardenio, you should read Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. I can't recommend Fforde's Thursday Next series of books enough, by the way. Lots of Shakespeare and literary in-jokes wrapped up in a totally surreal universe.

Edward III (in 3 Panels)

I've pretty much run out of standard Shakespeare plays and epic poems to turn into three-panel plays, but fortunately there's still a lot of kinda-sorta Shakespeare material out there! Let's take a look at the anonymously-published Edward III, which is now generally accepted to have been at least partially written by Shakespeare:

OK, so I (a) haven't read Edward III, and (b) haven't read any of the scholarship surrounding Edward III, so I can't tell you anymore about which bits may or may not have been written by Shakespeare. As a huuuuge history play geek, however, I would absolutely love to see this at some point, as it serves as a very nice prequel to Richard II

Edward III geeks out there (and you know who you are), feel free to geek about Edward III in the comments. If you have any easily-digestible reading material on Edward III to recommend, do share!

The Stratford Festival 2016 Season... in 3 Panels!

If theatre is my drug, then the Stratford Festival is my dealer. Here's what they've got on the playbill for their upcoming season:

The only thing I really don't like about A Chorus Line is every time I do any work related to A Chorus Line, I immediately get the song "Tits & Ass" stuck in my head for the next several hours. 

It's the play adaptation of the movie about a play! I'm looking forward to this. 

Classic. Can't go wrong. Unless, you know, someone says MACBETH...

I'm going to make an effort to see this, even though I am decidedly not an Arthur Miller fan. Everyone always spends too much time being acerbically miserable for my tastes. 

I love the Narnia books, so I'm always excited to see a stage adaptation of its first installment. Because MAGIC. 

This season's production is set in Newfoundland. If you wanted to, you could sign up to be taught a traditional Newfoundland dance and then be invited up during the performance to dance it with the cast. I thought about it briefly, and then I remembered (a) I can't dance, and (b) even if I could dance, the thought of dancing in front of actual people is such an alien concept that my mind can't even begin to process it. 

I love Sondheim. People often call Sondheim the Shakespeare of our age, which isn't really fair because, let's face it, Sondheim hasn't killed nearly as many characters as Shakespeare has. But I love Sondheim. Don't get me started. I will sing at you. 

The first part of a two-part adaptation by Graham Abbey of Richard II, Henry IV part 1 & 2, and Henry V. While I love the history plays in all their lengthy and occasionally long-winded gloriousness, I'm really looking forward to this. 

I mean... four history plays for the price of two! I'm hoping Abbey goes ahead and puts together Death of Kings, condensing the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III. MOAR HISTORY PLAYS PLEEZE.

..yeah, I got nothing. Pretty sure she doesn't actually turn into a giant rabbit, though. Oh well.

This will be... I think only my second time seeing Moliere on stage. I read Tartuffe in high school, but somehow haven't gotten around to seeing it, and I saw The Misanthrope at Stratford a couple years back. This one sounds like a lot of fun. 

AAARRGGH IBSEN. I pretty much loathed reading A Doll's House in high school and have avoided his stuff like the plague ever since. Should probably actually see Ibsen in performance at least once before I slam that door shut, though. 

OK, so this is a new, contemporary adaptation of the Aeneid, so I have no idea how accurate this is, but there should be people fleeing a thing and journeying to another thing at the very least.

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, STRATFORD... oh, wait. You're already doing that.

Good Tickle Brain at the Folger Shakespeare Library!

On Friday, April 29 I will be giving a free pre-show talk at the Folger Theatre in Washington D.C., ahead of a performance of the Reduced Shakespeare Company's performance of William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged). If you're in the D.C. area, stop by and say hello! For full details, visit the Folger website