Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Getting to Know: SelfMadeHero and Manga Shakespeare Part 1


I present to you, Emma Hayley! Now what makes this lady special? Well, one, she works at a United Kingdom company called SelfMadeHero and two, she is the lovely founder of the company. She has been working in the publishing industry “for a number of years now.” She edited a book titled “Learn to Draw Manga” about seven years ago, which is how she became interested in manga. Having years of publishing work under her belt, it has provided her with “very broad experience in all aspects of book publishing from the creational side to the business side.”

SelfMadeHero + Manga Shakespeare

SelfMadeHero was established in February 2007. The company “is a graphic novel and manga publisher, with its main mission being to make classic literature more accessible,” such as William Shakespeare classics. A lot of companies have licensed manga from Japan to be published at their homebase. So, why not get a licensed product from Japan? According to Hayley, the company “wanted to create a team based in the UK so that we could have face-to-face contact during the creational process.” As a result from this home base teamwork, in 2007, they launched their “first two Manga Shakespeare titles with Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.”

Now out of all the many classical literature out there, why did SelfMadeHero pick William Shakespeare? Can you guess? Does anyone remember the format of his many writings? I remember seeing dialogues that were similar to scripts. “Shakespeare intended his plays to be seen on a stage rather than read. Manga combines images with words: it is the perfect bridge between linear text and performance.

Before the idea of combining Shakespeare’s writing with manga artistic style could be established, every idea has a process or steps that would lead to the fulfillment. According to Hayley, there were “a number of key ingredients needed to make the Manga Shakespeare series a credible venture.” One important ingredient is having a creative team “made up of a script adaptor/editor, artist, textual consultant and layout designer.” So, here is her explanation:
“I contacted Richard Appignanesi who was key in pioneering Icon book’s successful Introducing Series. Appignanesi was used to editing books that married words with images. The script adaptor needed to be able to see each page visually and Appignanesi was perfect for the job – not only an avid comic reader from his youth, he also had a proven track-record as an editor of a series of visual books. We discussed the series at length looking at the many ways that we could produce the books. Do we do it the Japanese way i.e. from right to left? Do we modernize the text? Do we abridge the text? Which artists should we use? Should they be Japanese manga-kas?”
© 2009 Linda Thai

Stay tune for Part 2!
Thank you ABRAMS Books for letting me use the cover image and SelfMadeHero logo!

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