Shakespeare for Americans

Originally printed in Heavy Metal magazine from 1981-1982, Shakespeare for Americans is a comment on American pop-culture accomplished by the team of Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson and sometimes Peter Kuper. Running as one page gags of dumbed-down adaptations of the classic stories, the team lampooned what they saw as pop-culture’s ability to transform even the loftiest work into generic garbage devoid of originality and soul and the amazing willingness of the American public to eat large heaping plate fulls of multi-media refuse and beg for more.

I recall being vaguely insulted by this short series when it was initially published until I remembered that I don’t particularly like Shakespeare and that in spite of the snooty upper-crust reputations the plays enjoy now, the stories of Shakespeare were originally written to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the unwashed, illiterate and entertainment-starved masses of the era. Irony, thy name is Bill.

The scene from Julius Ceasar drawn by Frank Miller may be of particular interest to fans of his early work. You can see the entire set here in the Shakespeare for Americans flickr set.

One thought on “Shakespeare for Americans

  1. The idea that Howard “I draw Hawkgirl with nipples. NIPPLES!” Chaykin can say anything about the supposed dumbing down of America says a lot more about Howard Chaykin than it does about America.

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