Italian comic maestro Gianni De Luca’s stunning “Shakespeare Trilogy” to be released in English in June

Shakespeare in Comics by Gianni De Luca

Italian comics publisher Passenger Press has begun soliciting orders for its English language collection of Shakespeare in Comics, stunning comic adaptations of three of William Shakespeare’s plays by the legendary Gianni De Luca.

Gianni de Luca (Gagliato, 27th January 1927 – Rome, 6th June 1991 ) was an Italian cartoonist, illustrator, painter and engraver considered one of the greatest Italian masters of comics, endowed with a graphic elegance that characterised all his work.

He was an artist who constantly tried new styles, experimenting with new graphic solutions, making him one of the most innovative of Italian artists, ever.

Now, for the first time in the 50 years since since their original creation, Shakespeare in Comics, curated by comic creator and editor Christian Marra, collects Gianni de Luca’s so-called “Shakespeare Trilogy”, into an amazing-looking English edition.

Included in 160-page collection will be the graphic novel adaptations of three of Shakespeare’s plays by Gianni de Luca – The Tempest, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet – first published in the Catholic magazine Il Giornalino in 1975 and 1976.

Shakespeare in Comics by Gianni De Luca - Hamlet
Shakespeare in Comics by Gianni De Luca - Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare in Comics by Gianni De Luca - The Tempest

To draw the “Trilogy”, De Luca resorted to a simple yet revolutionary storytelling, in which the customary fragmentation of the page in panels and tiers, the norm of most comic storytelling, progressively disappeared. The last of the three adaptations, Romeo and Juliet, is entirely composed of double splash pages, large panels which occupy both of the pages in front of the reader, like the view of a theatrical stage.

On this wide horizontal page the characters are drawn several times, in a series of poses meant to convey the idea of their motion in contrast with the stillness of the scenery. In order to precisely “decode” the page, the reader must simply follow their movements around: an unconventional yet effective use of the visual language of comics that inspired many and many cartoonist from all the world.

Writing about De Luca’s work back in 2008, leading comic archivist Paul Gravett contributed an essay to European Comic Art Volume 1 No 1 (represented here on Paul’s web site), noting his unique storytelling techniques in his Shakespeare adaptations.

“From the very first pages, De Luca forces the reader to reassess how they will navigate not merely the individual page but the two facing pages,” he commented, “linked in many cases into one landscape. His trompe l’oeil effect is akin to the puzzle pictures of M. C. Escher except that De Luca’s perspective, even if shifting or from multiple viewpoints, is never surreally impossible.”

Shakespeare in Comics by Gianni De Luca - Limited Edition Print

A truly unique talent, it’s great to hear Shakespeare in Comics is getting a much deserved outing in English. As an added inducement, Passenger Press have also announced the first 200 orders from their website will have a limited print signed by artist’s daughter Laura De Luca.

Pre-order Shakespeare in Comics by Gianni de Luca here directly from Passenger Press | 160 Pages | Format: Dutch cover binding Dimensions 25.5 x 36 cm | Final Designs Subject to Change


Gianni De Luca & Hamlet: Thinking Outside The Box by Paul Gravett

A Twitter thread devoted to “The De Luca Effect” in other comics

Categories: Comic Previews, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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1 reply

  1. That’s great artworks, and a very original story telling and layout! Thank you for this article, I have never heard of Gianni De Luca before, but I will definitely check it out.

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