This week’s ceremony for the British Book Design and Production Awards 2008 was a great success for Classical Comics.
Macbeth: Original Text, drawn by Jon Haward, was the winner of the Secondary Education category and was also Highly Commended (2nd place) in Literature; while Henry V Quick Text achieved the shortlist for the Secondary Education category.
Classical Comics say the award for Macbeth, presented by Gyles Brandreth, marked a significant achievement – not only for the book itself, but also for the company as both gain recognition from the mainstream book industry.
Macbeth: Original Text presents the full and unabridged Shakespeare play in comic book form. It’s 11th century Scotland. Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, is one of King Duncan’s greatest war captains. Upon returning from a battle with the rebellious Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth and Banquo encounter three witches, who prophecy that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and then King. They also prophecy that Banquo will become the father of kings.
When Lady Macbeth hears this, she is determined to push her husband to take fate into his own hands and make himself king by murdering Duncan. Macbeth is reluctant to harm Duncan. But, when the King makes arrangements to visit Macbeth’s castle, the opportunity presents itself. Pressed on by his wife, Macbeth kills Duncan and blames the King’s drunken attendants, who he also kills. However, Macbeth is racked with guilt and begins to see apparitions.
When the body is discovered, Malcolm and Donalbain, the King’s sons, are suspicious of Macbeth and flee for their lives. To everyone else, it looks as if the sons have been the chief conspirators and Macbeth is crowned King of Scotland.
Banquo’s suspicions grow, based on his encounter with the witches and Macbeth is wary of the second prophecy concerning Banquoa’s offspring. Macbeth hires assassins to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance. Banquo is murdered that night, but Fleance escapes. The bloody ghost of Banquo appears to Macbeth at a feast, tormenting his already guilty conscience. In addition, Macduff, once a comrade of Macbeth, has fled after the King’s sons to England, as he also suspects Macbeth. In revenge, Macbeth butchers Macduff’s entire household.
Macduff and the King’s sons raise an army in England and march against Macbeth, who is given another prophecy by the witches, as he prepares for the assault. They tell him his throne is safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane and he will not die by the hand of any man born of a woman.
Macbeth now feels invincible. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, has been slowly driven mad by her dreams, in the wake of Duncan’s murder. She sleepwalks and eventually kills herself.
Macbeth learns that many of his lords are deserting and joining Malcolm’s army, which approaches Dunsinane under cover of boughs, which they’ve cut from the trees of Birnam Wood, and Macbeth and Macduff eventually meet on the bloody battlefield. Macbeth laughs derisively, relating the witches’ prophecy. But Macduff retorts that he was from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d and not (technically) of woman born.
The play ends with the death of Macbeth and Malcolm is crowned King of Scotland.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.