For Fun

Lowbrow Bard – Lighthearted Takes on The Great Works of Shakespeare

Is Shakespeare rolling around in his Stratford-upon-Avon grave because of the plethora of parodies penned of his masterpieces?

In today’s world, rewriting best-selling works and impersonating celebrities for the sake of book sales and entertainment does not seem the least bit legal. But Shakespeare died long before copyright laws were enacted (he died in 1616 and the first copyright laws in England began in 1710), making his likeness and works open to imitation. Which they have been – across pop culture in every way imaginable.

Many of the following works are silly and scorned by serious scholars of Shakespeare, but some are even available in the Globe Theatre gift shop. Shakespeare’s Globe is a replica of the original Globe Theatre where audiences first saw many of Shakespeare’s best-known plays.

The Globe Theatre of Shakespeare’s time was destroyed by fire in 1613, then rebuilt the following year, and demolished in 1644. The current Globe Theatre was brought to fruition through the vision and perseverance of actor and director Sam Wanamaker. Built just 750 ft from the original building, it opened in 1997. Other than updated safety features such as outside staircases and occupancy laws (and a gift shop), the Globe is a faithful representation of the original created after many years of in-depth research.

If you’re in London you can stop by the Globe and pick up some of these titles – or find them right here on Biblio!

Available at the Globe Gift Shop:

The Bard’s Guide to Abuses and Affronts

This Miniature Edition by Running Press offers a pocket-full of civilized insults from the world’s most gifted wordsmith.

Baffle your friends with your erudite knowledge of Shakespearean English, all while casually insulting them. This deluxe collection of Shakespeare’s most dazzling insults is neatly separated into sections for quick retrieval when a stinging retort is demanded. Become the master of your own villainy with creative insults that will show those rogues and ruffians who’s in charge!

From the Publisher

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

This biographical sketch, by the best-selling American-British author Bill Bryson, is subtitled The World as Stage and is also available in a hardback illustrated edition. Published as part of the Eminent Lives series by HarperCollins in 2007, it was reissued in 2016.

Bill Bryson examines centuries of myths, half-truths and lies. In a journey through the streets of Shakespeare’s time, Bryson brings life to Elizabethan England. and a host of characters along the way. Bill Bryson celebrates the glory of Shakespeare’s language – his ceaseless inventiveness giving us hundreds of now indispensable phrases, images and words.

From the Publisher

Manga Shakespeare

Manga Shakespeare presents the plays of Shakespeare issued in the popular graphic novel style of Japanese Manga. The abridged Shakespeare texts of classic plays such as The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, As You Like It, The Tempest, MacBeth, a Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet, all with cutting-edge illustrations.

Deadpool does Shakespeare

Deadpool does Shakespeare, written by Gerry Duggan, Ian Doescher & Bruno De Sousa. is William Shakespeare, Marvel comic style.

All the world’s a stage, and he’s a major player! Forsooth, Deadpool will face a comedy of errors when he gets trapped in the works of William Shakespeare! Whether it turns out to be a midsummer night’s dream, or much ado about nothing, it’s sure to be Deadpool as you like it! Fingers crossed that all’s well that ends well, so Wade can return to the tragedy that is his regular life in the Marvel Universe!

From the Publisher

One of the authors, Ian Doescher, is also known for his William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Series.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series by Ian Doescher is the Star Wars saga reimagined as an Elizabethian Drama. Doescher graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Music, then went on to get a Master of Divinity from Yale and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. The first book of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars was published in 2013. There are three books in the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily A New Hope (2013), William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back: Star Wars Part the Fifth (2014), and William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return: Star Wars Part the Sixth (2014). The ‘Prequel Trilogy’ was released in 2015 starting with William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First, William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh: Star Wars Part the Second, and William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third. There is also a ‘Sequel Trilogy’ – William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh (2017) and William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth (2018).

Doescher also wrote Much Ado About Mean Girls and Get Thee… Back to the Future which were just published in 2019 by Penguin Random House as part of the Pop Shakespeare series.

Shakespeare: A Graphic Guide N

Shakespeare: A Graphic Guide, by Nick Groom and Piero, is an exploration of why Shakespeare is considered one of the best writers of all time, and how he became so influential to our lives and culture. More than a biography or guide to his works, this book delves into Shakespeare’s world, and how his words have shaped the centuries following his death.

Other Shakespearean Spin-offs:

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski: A Most Excellent Comedie and Tragical Romance

Written by Adam Bertocci, the Big Lebowski, as written by the Bard, was a theatrical hit before being published in this lavishly illustrated book edition.

Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs

Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs, written by Erik Didriksen, reimagines 100 classic pop songs as Shakespearean sonnets. A popular Tumblr before it was a book, this work covers everyone from Beyoncé to the Beatles.

YOLO Juliet (OMG Shakespeare)

Brett Wright’s spin on Shakespeare’s classic presents Romeo and Juliet as modern teenagers with smart Phones. The groan factor is high on this one, but I imagine the goal is to get reticent teens interested in literature with the hope that someday they’ll actually read a real book, hopefully not just MacBeth #killingit, srsly Hamlet?, or A Midsummer Night #nofilter

Pop-up Shakespeare: Every Play and Poem in Pop-Up 3D

By the Reduced Shakespeare Company and Jennie Maizels

This pop-up book by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare company is illustrated by Jennie Maizels, a best-seller artist who has created art for numerous novelty and pop-up books. A fun, interactive introduction to Shakespeare for older children and adults.

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