I recently read PRINCE OF CATS by Ronald Wimberley. I got the latest oversized Image Comics release, it’s a beautiful beast of a tome, and I dug so much of the book. It’s a telling of Romeo & Juliet that gives us Tybald as the lead, it puts it in the Bronx, and plays with structure, and the ways in which comics can show action and emotion. It’s also written in iambic pentameter. It is a very good piece of work.
In the back matter, there was a line that completely captivated my brain for a week after reading it.
“…I asked myself why it had never before seemed strange to me that the children of Shakespeare’s Verona were so reckless with their lives.”
This concept of really thinking through the characters and their actions and motviations after you’ve read it is a powerful piece of brain fuel. Taking those thoughts into action by building new context for the story and thus commenting on modern concepts is beautiful. There are cliches and tropes, and there are archetypes, and classics, and often we take aspects of them for granted. But to consider what they told us, and why they might be doing it, and laying it like a sheet of vellum over modern times, and looking for where lines balance, and where they maybe tangent to create something new…that’s art.
When we write, we have to consider why our characters would do something. Are their actions real, are they earned. It helps to consider that of the characters we read, and what we’re really seeing in each thing that seems like it’s part of the landscape and we should consider what it is telling us about the landscape.
Every component in a story is a strategic choice, even the subliminal stuff. When we write, what we say, what we leave out, what we put into bold, it’s all building the whole. Then we interact with those things as the reader, and if we’re lucky, we use it to influence the inflection of our own creations down the line.
PRINCE OF CATS is going to work its magic in my brainpan for a long time to come.