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Manga Shakespeare: King Lear

Words by Richard Appignanesi

Art by ILYA

Paperback, 208 pp, £9.99

"Which of you doth love us most?" The story of King Lear, the old chieftain who decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, begins like a fairy tale – and ends as the most terrifying tragedy ever written. This original manga recreation of Shakespeare's apocalyptic play vividly transfers the action to the violently disputed colonial frontiers of 18th-century America, where it is the last of the Mohicans who is bound upon a wheel of fire...

King Lear is part of Manga Shakespeare, a series of graphic novel adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays. Drawing inspiration from Japan and using Shakespeare's original texts, this series – adapted by Richard Appignanesi and illustrated by leading manga artists – brings to life the great Bard's words for students, Shakespeare enthusiasts and manga fans.


ILYA is a comic book writer and artist whose work has been published by Marvel, DC and Dark Horse in the US, Kodansha in Japan and numerous independent companies worldwide. His previous books include the Manga Drawing Kit, the award-winning graphic novel series The End of the Century Club and the kitchen sink drama Skidmarks. His illustration clients have included the BBC, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Times and Guardian newspapers and most recently East End Life, for whom he crafts a regular strip. ILYA edits the Mammoth Book of Best New Manga series. His first prose novel, The Clay Dreaming, is published by Myriad Editions.

Richard Appignanesi

Richard Appignanesi is a PhD graduate in classical art history. He was a founder and co-director of the Writers & Readers Publishing Cooperative, and later of Icon Books Ltd, where he served as originating editor of the internationally acclaimed illustrated Beginners and Introducing series, to which he contributed his own bestselling titles, Freud, Postmodernism, Existentialism and others. A former executive editor of the art journal Third Text, reviews editor of Futures and exhibition curator, Richard is the author of the fiction trilogy Italia Perversa, the novel Yukio Mishima’s Report to the Emperor and the Granta title What do Existentialists Believe? For SelfMadeHero, he adapted the texts for the Manga Shakespeare series, as well as The Wolf Man and Hysteria in the Graphic Freud series.


"If I have my way, comics will play their part in the literacy debate. My son has no interest in English at school, but has devoured three Manga Shakespeare graphic novels, plus the graphic novel of Kafka's The Trial." 
— Ian Rankin
"This series does in book form what film director Baz Luhrmann did on screen – make Shakespeare cool and accessible to a younger generation… [the] artists use the dynamic flow of manga to give Shakespeare's plots an addictive page-turning energy."
— Independent on Sunday