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CliffsNotes Sell Manga-Inspired Shakespeare Guides

posted on by Egan Loo
Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet covered

CliffsNotes, John Wiley & Sons' famous line of study guides that summarize English class texts, has released "The Manga Editions" of four classic plays by William Shakespeare. Parson's School of Design professor Adam Sexton supervised the graphic novel adaptations by Maria Kristina Pantoja (Hamlet), Hyeondo Park (Julius Caesar), Eve Grandt and Candice Chow (Macbeth), and Yali Lin (Romeo and Juliet). According to Publishers Weekly's PW Comics Week, Sexton acknowledges that the books make cuts in the material, but the team "tried to remain sensitive and faithful to the material." PW also quotes Barnard College professor Peter Platt, who skeptically says, “This is an alternative to CliffsNotes, which is an alternative to Shakespeare.”

This series follows in the footsteps of the British publisher SelfMadeHero, which has been releasing manga-influenced retellings of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Tempest, Richard III, and A Midsummer's Night Dream since early last year. Gonzo re-imagined Romeo and Juliet for its 2007 Romeo × Juliet fantasy anime series. Wiley itself has also released Manga for Dummies and Manga Studio for Dummies — two art instruction guides in its popular "Dummies" series.

The North American publisher Tokyopop teamed up with the Kaplan test preparation school last year to release vocabulary-building world manga based on Psy-Comm, Warcraft, and Van Von Hunter last July. Japanese publishers have used manga excerpts and anime/manga-inspired drawings to teach English, notably in the Moetan, Maritan, and Moegaku*5 series. The defunct Mangajin magazine and the Japanese the Manga Way book from Stone Bridge Press have used manga excerpts to similarly teach Japanese.

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