DRACULA

From the Manga Classics series

Black-and-white illustrations share the storytelling load in this manga adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic tale.

A business trip becomes a source of gothic terror when a strange client named Count Dracula insists that solicitor Jonathan Harker remain in his castle in Transylvania indefinitely. Meanwhile, Harker’s fiancee, Mina, stays with her friend Lucy, whose sleepwalking problem puts her in the path of a creature who needs fresh blood. Lucy’s three suitors, with help from a trusted doctor, try to save Lucy, but when she dies and becomes one of the undead, they set her soul free in a gruesome ritual before joining forces with Harker to pursue Dracula. Mina is kept apart from the action because women are deemed unsuitable for such work, but this does not prevent her from becoming a target. The gender-based violence is more disturbing when depicted in images rather than the original text, and although the Count is described as pale, he is illustrated in dark hues and shadow, reinforcing tropes of lightness and darkness as good and evil, respectively. Journals, newspapers, letters, and telegrams are set in text boxes in varying fonts. The different characters’ perspectives feel somewhat disjointed, but the pace of the action will keep readers engaged to the end.

Flawed but thrilling. (cast of characters, how to read manga, editor’s note, guide to fonts, character design sketchbook) (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947808-06-5

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

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Will appeal to manga fans but raises questions around depictions of racialized material.

OTHELLO

From the Manga Classics series

An illustrated reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s most memorable tragedies.

From the very beginning of this clever adaptation, effort is made to prioritize accessibility of both the manga form and the classic Shakespearean play: The frontmatter briefly highlights the reading direction of the panels, and characters are labeled when introduced, coming to life via a striking combination of early modern Venetian dress; quintessential manga hairdos and facial expressions; and pronounced linework. Like the rest of the series, this account of Othello remains faithful to the original. The black-and-white illustrations allow for Iago’s conniving manipulations to manifest visually as well as animating characters’ bigotry in impactful, distressing ways. However, there are shortcomings: Where the original text may use parentheticals and asides to progress the story, the occasional appearance of parentheses in speech bubbles are a distracting reminder that comics utilize storytelling tools that haven’t been fully adopted here. Likewise, panel after panel of Othello’s turn to violence and his enraged face obscured by shadow provide a poignant dramatic effect but seem to exacerbate prejudices inherent to both the play and medium. Not only is the titular character visually distinguished from other characters by his shading, hair, lips, and overall size, unfortunately neither Shakespeare nor the illustrator seem wholly prepared for a contemporary conversation regarding racial representation in one of literature’s most infamous depictions of othering.

Will appeal to manga fans but raises questions around depictions of racialized material. (adapter’s notes, character designs) (Graphic fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947808-13-3

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

From the Manga Classics series

Manga that brings to life Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy.

This third entry in Manga Classics’ adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays maintains their practice of reproducing the full text of the original. The black-and-white illustrations allow readers to easily follow the plot while also picking up on subtle themes that are significant to understanding the play. For example, the abundant imagery surrounding the moon is emphasized by the moon’s presence in the backgrounds of many panels throughout the book, drawing readers’ attention. Long dialogues are also explained visually, which allows young readers to grasp what is being discussed without the need for a glossary or translation into modern English. The nobility is portrayed in a typical manga fashion with large eyes, small noses, and well-defined ears—but with appropriate Grecian clothing—while the commoners are easily visually distinguishable from them in style. The guide to reading manga at the beginning unfortunately describes the right-to-left reading order as “backwards from the normal books you know,” a strangely judgment-laden description for a book using manga to broaden the cultural exposure of young readers. However, the creators’ notes at the end offer fascinating insights into the adaptation process and may inspire budding manga artists to attempt their own works.

Shakespeare’s fantastical dream in an appealing format that can be shared with a wider audience. (cast, creators’ notes, character design sheet) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947808-10-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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