‘Ophelia’s Revenge: A Shakespeare Shaken Production’ - Graphic Novel Review

The tagline on this graphic novel from the Harvey Award-nominated indie publisher Red Stylo Media claims that “Mother Nature is a cruel mistress.” And, in the case of Ophelia’s Revenge, readers soon find out just how cruel she can be.

Based on an original concept from Laura Guzzo, James McGee’s story opens with two actors rehearsing lines from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Larry, playing Hamlet, gets to “get thee to a ...” and he has forgotten his line. This line is a double entendre in the play, and the reader quickly learns that it also applies to Larry and Jean (who is playing Ophelia); Larry has broken off their relationship because Jean is just a bit to “fast” for him. Jean isn’t happy about the breakup; she wanted their relationship to move to the next level – a commitment to their future together. She goes so far as to get some magical help from the local gypsy. Things go awry when Jean’s vengeful wish manifests into a watery female creature. And Jean’s forgiveness comes too late.

Incorporating a well-known line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that has its own application for the actors is a captivating vehicle that McGee sets up for the reader. The addition of the magical elements gives a unique concept to the foundation of the story – two people losing and finding love for each other – as well as keeping the pace of the story propelling forward. The blend of narrative elements results in an entertaining read.

Artist Alex Clark, colorist Jan Velazquez, and letterer Mark Mullaney round out the creative team for Ophelia’s Revenge. The visuals faltered a bit; for example, the facial expressions of the characters did not always look like the same characters from one frame to the next; however, Clark did layout the panels well, conveying the tension between the actors as they exchanged lines, as well as excelling with the two-page spread with the deadly sins and with the cover art. Velazquez’s colors helped Clark’s illustrations, bringing them to life. The contrast of the subdued colors of the stage scenes to the more vibrant colors of scenes involving the creature showed expertise with color theory and symbolism. Lastly, Mullaney’s letters and word effects blend in well with Clark’s panels. There was quite a bit of text at certain moments, and Mullaney expertly kept dialogue ownership clear. And, of course, the lettering was easy to read and nicely spaced in the speech balloon.

There are good stories and art coming from the indie comics scene, and Ophelia’s Revenge can be counted amongst that crowd. Yes, there are some rough edges, but the story is entertaining, unique, and seasoned with just the right amount of humor. The incorporation of the classics, such as Shakespeare, shows literature and plays are not dead and that comics can and should be a medium to experience them – even one famous line, that everyone should know, even Larry.

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