Any discussion of literary appropriation should not neglect contributions from comic books. Comics generally entail a collective effort involving writers, illustrators, and colorists. They constitute a medium in which the issue of authorship becomes contested. However, to date, comics have been largely ignored in the scholarly field, even when they appropriate works that are cornerstones of the English canon, such as William Shakespeare’s. Among Shakespeare’s most important adaptors in the comic medium is Neil Gaiman, who introduces Shakespeare as a character in his renowned comic book series, The Sandman. Moreover, Gaiman has Shakespeare write two plays – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest – on the behest of his main character, Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams. Using this mechanism of intertextuality, Gaiman is able to explore and relate his own notions on the nature of writing and storytelling. In The Sandman’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, much of the commentary focuses on the ability of stories to convey ‘truth.’ In the version of The Tempest, the inspiration of artists becomes Gaiman’s key subject. Worldly experiences and dreams/imagination are portrayed as central to the artist’s motivations for artistic exploration. However, Gaiman also delves into the darker issue of how artists devalue their own lives by turning them into spectacles from which to draw inspiration.
Jeremiah Junker, ’09 Hampton, IA
Majors: History, English
Sponsor: Kirilka Stavreva