What Comics Can Take From Shakespeare

I tagged this article by John Ostrander without knowing who he is.  I gathered from a quick skim that he is an author of comic books, who cites Shakespeare as one of his influences.  I like that.  I’m reminded of last week’s Ben Kingsley story where he said that he “Brings a little Shakespeare into everything he does.”  Which in turn reminds me of the great Martin Luther King’s quote about, and I will paraphrase this because I’ve got to get back to the topic at hand, “If you are called to sweep streets, then sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.” Amen, Dr. King.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yeah, John Ostrander on what the comics can take from Shakespeare. The fact that he uses Measure for Measure as his primary example shows that there’s going to be some depth to his argument, he’s not just pulling high school memories of Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet and doing little but name dropping our dear bard.  Mr. Ostrander’s apparently thought a lot about this.

A brief excerpt:

Explore all sides of the question. What did Shakespeare think on any given question? It’s hard to tell because he would give convincing arguments to both (or more) sides of a question.

He then uses the example of Claudio preparing for his possible death, first speaking with the Duke and accepting it, but then turning around and telling his sister Isabella how much he fears it.

Which attitude speaks Shakespeare’s true mind? 

Both. Both are true, to the moment, to the character, to the author, and for the reader or audience. It comes down to which is truer for us and that was Shakespeare’s intent or what I learned from it. Shakespeare had a many faceted mind and he used it in his work.

That’s just one of several points he makes (although, to be temper my original praise, his point about Hamlet seems a little thin.)

Oh, and before I wrote this I had to google Mr. Ostrander so that I didn’t get schooled by the comic geeks in the audience for not knowing him.  Turns out he’s not only done time with Marvel and DC, he’s contributed to the Star Wars universe as well.  Looks like his Shakespeare lessons have been serving him well!

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