Monday, March 22, 2021

Shakespeare in Troy

I entered a portion of Age of Bronze in the Third Graphic Shakespeare Competition, which honors comics adaptations of William Shakespeare's works. When I first heard about this competition, I didn't plan to enter it. I sent an e-mail about it to Nicole Galland, an author I'd met at the Key West Literary Seminar in January 2019. Nicki is a Shakespeare expert and once ran by me the idea of collaborating on Shakespeare comics adaptations. I didn't take her up on that, but thought she might be interested in this Shakespeare comics competition.

She didn't plan to enter, but asked whether I planned to. When I told her "no," she suggested I enter some of the Troilus and Cressida material that I'd adapted from Shakespeare into Age of Bronze.

At first I decided my use of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida transformed the material too radically and incorporated material from too many non-Shakespeare sources to really be called a Shakespeare adaptation. But the rules for the competition didn't specify a rigid adherence to Shakespeare's words. According to the rules, any sort of comics adaptation seemed eligible. In fact, the rules went so far as to specify the eligibility of adaptations using none of Shakespeare's words.

The maximum length for entries was eight pages. I looked over my Age of Bronze scenes featuring Troilus and Cressida's separation and correlated them with scenes from Shakespeare's play. I was surprised to find that I hadn't strayed as far from Shakespeare as I thought I had. I selected some pages, cropped a few panels to fit within the proper length for the competition and sent them in.

After that, I didn't think about the competition for a while. For several reasons, I figured I didn't have much chance of winning. I suspected that calling my work an "adaptation" of Shakespeare stretched the point. Past winners of the competition seemed much more experimental in their cartooning that I usually am in Age of Bronze. And my entry wasn't in color, while past winners made beautiful use of color.

To my surprise I received an e-mail months later informing me that my entry had been chosen as one of the runners up in the "creators over 25" category. I was surprised, to say the least. I was also delighted.

Here are all the awardees:

Over 25 years old category:


Edouard Lekston, "Harry and Jack": King Henry IV, Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

Runners Up:

Eric Shanower, "Troilus and Cressida"

Kathryn Briggs, "Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5"

The 15 to 25 years old category:


Naz Baquiran, "Wicked Encounter"

Runners Up:

Annie Holley, "Two Blushing Pilgrims"

Boglarka Littner, "Nostalgia"

The judges were: Paul Gravett, Fionnuala Doran, Harumo Sanazaki, Hu Rong, Jang Hyun Nam, and Ronan Paterson.

One of my pages. Click to enlarge.
The whole shebang was run by Yukari Yoshihara, who did an excellent job in my opinion.

The awards were announced in November 2020 at the 4th Conference of the Asian Shakespeare Association in Seoul, Korea. That was so far away from me that, even if Covid hadn't taken possession of the planet, I had no plans to attend. However, I sent in a short video accepting as a runner up. I thanked Yukari Yoshihara and the judges--as well as Nicki Galland for prompting me to enter in the first place.

The competition published a beautiful, full-color booklet featuring all the winners. You can read the whole book here:

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.