Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth is the very first Manga book I’ve ever read, and I enjoyed the experience. I’ve known very little about graphic novels or Manga, but I’m learning! And I do love Shakespeare in any form, and especially love his MACBETH. Before moving to 2nd grade after my medical leave of absence, I taught 6th grade for 16 years, and our 6th grade classes performed an abbreviated version of The Scottish Play every spring. It’s the thing I miss most about my grade level change. So it was a pleasure to read another version of the play, and experience it in a whole new way.

The world of Manga is quite fascinating. There are visual traditions and things I don’t completely understand yet (MacDuff had 4 arms, for instance, and the story was set in a post-apocalyptic future), but I know that there was always a real fascination and passion for it with some of my students, so I am curious to read more and learn about it. I am also pleased that the Manga Shakespeare books introduce readers, many of them young, to the plays in a way they can enjoy. The language is intact although abbreviated, and “reading” a Manga or graphic novel version of the story is much closer to the performance of a play because of the interaction of the words and the graphics.

The other day I watched an interview on the Seattle Channel with Nancy Pearl (Book Lust) interviewing Mark Siegel, the editorial director of :01 First Second Books, and he talked about the world of graphic novels, and how that world is growing and developing. Not only did I learn a lot about that genre from listening to him, but I also compiled a list of graphic novels that he recommends. I’m heading for the library today to pick up a number of them! It’s a 30-minute video clip, but well worth watching.

This book is my first read for Rhinoa’s Manga Challenge, and I’m looking forward to reading more Manga. I am also counting it as a book read for Historia’s Shakespeare Challenge, and for Carl’s Sci Fi Experience because the setting was changed to the future, so it loosely qualifies.

9 thoughts on “Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth

  1. Molly

    I had no idea that manga was found in the Shakespeare realm. I am very anxious to read this one – as well as Midsummer Night’s Dream – as I teach those two plays and I think my students would enjoy the fact that the Bard can translate to the graphic novel.

    Thank you for the suggestion!


  2. Kailana

    I was looking at these books one day at the bookstore. They look really interesting! I haven’t got around to reading one, yet, though.


  3. Robin

    Molly, I didn’t know that, either, so it was a fun discovery. There are quite a few of them out now, and, yes, Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of them. I’m reading The Tempest right now.

    Kailana, they are done by different illustrators, and I’m finding (since I’m so new to the manga world) that makes a difference. I’m liking the illustrations for The Tempest much better than the ones for Macbeth!


  4. Rhinoa

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your first Manga. The Manga Shakespeare series is quite big now so you should find lots of adaptations of a variety of his plays. I got Hamlet for my sister at Christmas which will be her first read and another one I forget which for my mum. Both teach English and I hope they enjoy a different take on a classic.


  5. JoAnn

    I’ve been curious about manga and graphic novels and really enjoyed this post! Hope to find time later today to watch the video.


  6. Robin

    Thanks, Rhinoa. I’m in the middle of The Tempest right now and am enjoying that one even more than Macbeth. I’m learning quickly that the illustrator/illustrations make a huge difference. Thanks for hosting this challenge. It’s very interesting, I’m learning a lot, and I’m enjoying it all.

    Joann, I thought the video was very interesting, so I hope you get a chance to watch it. I learned a lot about the world of graphic novels and manga from it.


  7. Mark Siegel

    Hi Robin! The Nancy Pearl video was one of the high points of my first trip to Seattle. I'm especially curious to hear feedback about it from librarians and booksellers who aren't too sure about the worth of graphic novels… I'll be interested to know if any of my recommendations speak to you!

    And First Second books has a group on Facebook, especially welcome to anyone fond of reading…

    Thanks again, and all very best,



  8. Robin

    Anna, I didn’t know anything about manga, either, so I’m really enjoying my explorations with growing appreciation.

    Hi Mark, I’m glad that your first trip to Seattle was a good experience for you. Nancy Pearl is a special person around here, and I especially love her interviews. It’s my impression that the Northwest is full of people that appreciate graphic art as well as reading, and I see more and more people with graphic novels in their hands. It’s so interesting to learn more about that part of the book world, and I’m enjoying this first exploration of it. You are my guide because I wrote down the books you mentioned in the interview, and what an excellent beginning list. I’m enjoying myself. Thanks!



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