Monday, August 12, 2013

Hamlet as hyperdrama

To Be or Not To Be: Ryan North: 9780982853740: Books:

"To Be or Not To Be is a choose-your-own-path version of Hamlet by New York Times best-selling author Ryan North. Play as Hamlet, Ophelia, or King Hamlet—if you want to die on the first page and play as a ghost. It's pretty awesome! Readers can follow Yorick skull markers to stick closely to Shakespeare's plot, or go off-script and explore alternative possibilities filled with puzzles and humor.

Each ending in the book is accompanied by a full-color, full-page illustration by one of the 65 most excellent artists working today, so each rereading yields new surprises and rewards. Ryan's prose is, as always, colloquial and familiar but full of clever references, vivid imagination, and only the most choice of jokes. Inventive devices like a book-within-a-book (to mirror Hamlet's play-within-a-play) take full advantage of the gamebook medium and liven up the original story for even the most disinterested of Shakespeare readers!"

Well, decades ago I figured out that for hyperdrama to get respect, one would have to tell a classic story this way, hence my Chekhov hyperdrama, The Seagull Hyperdrama. Now with more PR savvy, press and money, a best selling cartoonist has treated Hamlet the same way. I was there first but there invisibly. It will be interesting to see if this generates an audience. Moreover, it was a Kickstarter project, raising over half a million dollars!
Late last year, Web cartoonist Ryan North launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund To Be or Not to Be, an illustrated “chooseable-path adventure”—pardon the copyright dodge—version of Hamlet. Thanks to media attention and a viral spread that attracted an audience beyond fans of North’s popular Dinosaur Comics, it became the most funded publishing project in Kickstarter history, surpassing its initial $20,000 goal by more than half a million dollars.
The trouble with being ahead of the curve is, you don't get much company until you're long gone onto other mindsets, and quite out of the picture as the hordes chase a "new idea" that is very old to you.

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