Stick Figure Iconography: Falstaff

Time for some more installments of Shakespeare Stick Figure Iconography! Today we look at one of the most iconic Shakespearean characters of all time: Falstaff.


I've seen white Falstaffs. I've seen black Falstaffs. I've heard of and seen documentation of female Falstaffs. I saw Falstaff played by an undergrad who wasn't old enough to legally drink. 

I've never seen a thin Falstaff.

REVIEW: "Breath of Kings" at the Stratford Festival

Here is my review of the Stratford Festival's productions of Breath of Kings: Rebellion and Breath of Kings: Redemption. They're essentially two halves of the same production, so I'm lumping them together. This is what the general story is:

And here's what I thought of it:

EXTRA THOUGHTS (because I can't fit them all into a comic):

I have been deeply immersed in Shakespeare's history plays for decades now, so I am completely incapable of figuring out how accessible and understandable this production is to people unfamiliar with the plays and the history behind it. I thought that Abbey's adaptation was very clear in highlighting the important beats of the story as it unfolded, but at this point I could see these plays in an entirely foreign language and still know what was going on. If you saw this production and weren't that familiar with the history plays, please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

There are lots of great performances in these plays, particularly Tom Rooney as Richard II (bringing Richard's wry, self-deprecating, and theatrical sense of humor to the forefront), and Geraint Wyn Davies as Falstaff (one of those casting notices where you nod your head and say "Yep. That was the right choice.") However, I just wanted to give a special mention to Carly Street, who plays a handful of characters including Thomas Mowbray, Lady Percy, the Douglas, and the Archbishop of York, and was unspeakably badass as all of them. A good subtitle for these plays would be "Carly Street Yelling At Men And Showing Them How To Behave", and it's all glorious. 

The set probably deserves a mention. For Rebellion, the stage is covered in a brown mulch that looks like earth, which is progressively scarred, disturbed, and tossed around as Richard's reign decays, revealing an interlocking stone floor beneath it. In Redemption, large chunks of the this stone floor are physically uprooted throughout the action, until, after the battle of Agincourt, the stage resembles the aftermath of an earthquake. It was a bit fussy at times, but very visually striking. 

It is (understandably) very rare to be able to see all four of these plays performed in the same season with the same cast, which is a pity as they are inextricably linked together. The Breath of Kings adaptation is a great way to see them all placed within their proper context, without having to sit through twelve straight hours of history plays. While obviously a lot of text has been removed, it has been by and large done in a very elegant and rational way, and the resulting plays are well worth watching. 

Shakespearean Christmas Carols, part 2

Tomorrow is Christmas! And you know what that means... MORE SHAKESPEAREAN CHRISTMAS CAROLS!

Seriously, Cordelia... you better watch out...

I love The Holly and the Ivy, but it doesn't seem to be as popular as it used to be. It's so relentlessly up-tempo and goes on and on and on and on and on...

If you're in the mood for more Shakespearean Christmas Carols, check out my first installment and be sure to read the reader-submitted ones in the comments, including two different takes on Carol of the Bells and another jab at King Lear.

Happy holidays to all of you! I will be taking next week off, but will see you back here in 2016. It's been a busy and exciting year for me, and I am so very thankful to all of you for reading and supporting my work. I am looking forward to another year of sharing Shakespearean silliness with you!

Shakespearean New Year's Resolutions, part 2

Happy New Year to all my readers! Have you made any New Year's resolutions? These guys have:

2014 was an amazing year for Good Tickle Brain. I started the year with just a couple hundred followers on Facebook and Twitter and absolutely no plans to for this website to be anything but a display case for the rather obscure jokes running through my mind. However, thanks in part to websites like i09 and Buzzfeed sharing my stuff, I now have well over a thousand followers on each site, plus more on Tumblr and Instagram. The "Shakespeare fan with strange sense of humor" demographic is, happily, much stronger than I had anticipated, and I have really enjoyed meeting and interacting with like-minded Shakespeare geeks.

2014 was also a year for projects. I started the Weekly Tickle Brain e-mail newsletter, as part of my ongoing plan to take over the world with stick figure comics. I signed up for more social networking services than I had previously known existed. I also did some work for the excellent Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which actually managed to cover my annual website hosting costs. So, if you appreciate being able to read Good Tickle Brain without any annoying ads popping up at you, thank the Birthplace Trust. 

I consider "breaking even" to be a fairly substantial achievement in the field of esoteric niche-market webcomics, but some of you out there have been kind enough to indicate that you would like to give me more money in exchange for material goods such as t-shirts, books, mugs, and posters. In 2015 I hope to make Good Tickle Brain merchandise available! If there is any product in particular that you would like to see, please do get in touch.

Unfortunately, working on these sorts of projects does take up a lot of time. In order to allow me to work on expanding Good Tickle Brain, I will be moving to a twice-a-week posting schedule, with new comics on the site every Tuesday and Thursday. The Weekly Tickle Brain newsletter will continue to go out on Mondays, and I will also be posting random stuff during the week on my various social media accounts, as usual. 

Too long, didn't read? Let me sum up:

  1. Thanks for supporting Good Tickle Brain in 2014!
  2. You're all awesome.
  3. New comics will be posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays! 
  4. Shakespeare is awesome. 
  5. Happy New Year!

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... 

All You Need To Know About Henry IV, part 2

Tomorrow the RSC is live-broadcasting their current production of Henry IV, part 2, starring Antony Sher as Falstaff and Alex Hassell as Prince Hal! I just saw their production of Henry IV, part 1 at my local cinema this past weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed it. To help get everyone caught up for part 2, here is a handy-dandy guide to the play:

Forgot what happens in part 1? Check out my guide here!

Stop by tomorrow for the last of my Shakespeare World Cup team rundowns!


All You Need To Know About Henry IV, part 1

It's a great time to be a long-distance Shakespeare fan, what with the National Theatre and now the Royal Shakespeare Company broadcasting performances to theatres around the world. This week the RSC is broadcasting their current production of Henry IV, part 1, starring Antony Sher as Falstaff and Alex Hassell as Prince Hal. To celebrate, here is a quick guide to (almost) all you need to know to appreciate the play!

That's... actually a really small death total for a history play. That practically makes this a comedy.

Check out my other Henry IV related strips here!