Springtime is always a great season for Shakespeare. I was contracted in late 2015 to illustrate a new book by Nomad Press about the plays of William Shakespeare. I worked on the bulk of the illustrations between April and June of 2016, prime bard weather. I hadn’t worked with Andi Diehn before, who was also the art director/graphic designer for the book, and it was one of the most fulfilling projects, for me, to date for Nomad.
The book is geared for Middle School students to get them interested in the work of the bard. Unlike other books I’ve read for early teens about Shakespeare, it strikes an amazing balance of being easy to read and respectful of the primary texts (no dumbing down). Andi Diehn organizes her thoughts around four major plays and devotes two chapters to each: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The first chapter addresses the play itself, the history of it, and themes within the play. The second chapter unwraps how the play has been developed into films and current media; and, discusses how the play has stayed relevant hundreds of years after their first performance.
For the illustrations on this book I did something different than any other book I’ve created for Nomad, I told a story. From the introduction to the final chapter, I have two characters interacting with Shakespeare as he talks about the plays in the book. They help him gather notes and miscellanea for his plays and even take a trip to the Globe. I had a lot of fun imagining the world and putting words into the mouth of one of the most famous English writers. I hope you have as much fun reading the comics as I did making them.
I am grateful that Nomad has given me a long leash when it comes to creating illustrations and dialogue for characters. I took a major risk with this book by including a self-contained story through the illustrations, and both the editorial team and Andi Diehn loved what I did. Nothing in the professional world for me feels more satisfying than delivering something people enjoy.
The book is officially on bookshelves November 15th, 2016. I sincerely hope it is a success so I can read another Shakespeare book by Andi Diehn, regardless of who illustrates it. You can preorder it now at your favorite local bookstore!