Great Shakespeare Plays Retold with Stick Figures in Three Simple Drawings


Other than Romeo and Juliet and possibly Hamlet,  Shakespeare doesn’t exactly lend himself to the elevator pitch. The same creaky plot devices and unfathomable jokes that confound modern audiences make for long winded summaries.

Not to say it can’t be done. Mya Gosling, a Southeast Asia Copy Cataloger at the University of Michigan, has been amusing herself, and more recently others, with “Good Tickle Brain,” a web comic that reduces each of the complete works to a mere three panels. (Titus Andronicus‘ bloodbath required but one.)

Those of us who are semi-versed in the Bard should delight in the way major characters and complex side plots are glibly stricken from the record.

(Methinks Lady MacBeth would not be pleased…)

And what high schooler won’t experience a perverse thrill, when the obscure and boring text his class has been parsing for weeks is dispatched with the swiftness of your average Garfield? (The wise teacher will be in no rush to share these revelations…)


Gosling, whose dad introduced her to Shakespeare at an early age, knows the material well enough to subvert it. Who cares if her artistic talent maxes out with stick figures? Familiarity allows her to nail the ending of Troilus and Cressida (“Homer’s Iliad happens”). The middle panel of Winter’s Tale is devoted to “some poor guy” getting eaten by a bear, and why shouldn’t it be, when the author’s famous stage direction is the only thing most people can dredge up with regard to that particular play?

As for the title of her web comic, it’s an insult from one of her faves, Henry IV, part 1. My kind of geekery, forsooth.

H/T Michael Goodwin, the author of Economix, a book that explains The History of Economics & Economic Theory with Comics. See a sample by clicking here.

Related Content:

Free Course: A Survey of Shakespeare’s Plays

Discover What Shakespeare’s Handwriting Looked Like, and How It Solved a Mystery of Authorship

The Beatles Perform a Fun Spoof of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1964)

Ayun Halliday‘s 16-year-old daughter plays a small part in Michael Almereyda’s Cymbeline. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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