Monday, March 7, 2016

Prince of Cats

by Ron Wimberly

I'll admit that I haven't read or really even thought about Romeo and Juliet since I was in Grade 10, so I'm sure that much of the innovation and coolness of this book was lost on me.  Even still, The Prince of Cats, Ron Wimberly's adaptation of Shakespeare's famous play, set in Brooklyn and featuring rival sword-wielding gangs, is pretty amazing.

The titular prince is Tybalt, of the Capulets, who spends his days and nights roaming his neighbourhood, trying to raise his status in the Duel List, a ranking of neighbourhood sword fighters.  He's interested in Juliet, but is also happy to spend time with Rosalyn.

Wimberly's characters spill blood on the dance floor, and chase each other through and atop moving subway trains.  His kinetic art propels the story along, often evoking Kyle Baker and Dark Knight-era Frank Miller.

Wimberly does some very cool things with language here, blending Shakespearian English with hiphop slang in a way that ends up sounding natural and not as affected as you might expect.

This entire project feels very organic and cool.  I've heard that Wimberly, who also drew rapper MF Grimm's biographical book Sentences, is currently working on adapting Saul Williams's brilliant MartyrLoserKing album into a graphic novel with him.  I cannot wait to see how that project turns out.

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