June 11, 2014

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Kill Shakespeare's New Series Tied to Board Game

Page One of the new Kill Shakespeare Series
In a press release sent out by email today, the Kill Shakespeare team announced that their new series, called "The Mask of Night," will be tied in to the upcoming Kill Shakespeare Board game.

From the release:

As you know, KILL SHAKESPEARE is a series of award-winning graphic novels, a stage play, a radio play, and is being developed for film and television and mobile apps, but now we’re trying something even more ambitious…
….TYING OUR LATEST COMIC INTO A BOARD GAME! Next Wednesday (June 18th), the first issue of our brand new comic book mini-series KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE MASK OF NIGHT will hit comic shops through IDW Publishing. A month later the KILL SHAKESPEARE BOARD GAME will touch down with IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games.
As noted in the release, the creators behind Kill Shakespeare, Anthony Del Col and Connor McCreery, along with artist Andy Belanger, are no stranger to taking their property and adapting it into new mediums. So this move to add a board game is no surprise. After all, there's already board games that tie to comics, and putting aside that god-awful hard Spider-Man game for Atari (I still have lingering frustrations about that one), it's something that goes back at least to the 1980s, possibly earlier.

But what's notable about this one is that the two are designed to be linked. More from the release:
How are the two related? Well, both will tell the story of the newest member of our world – Viola, the plucky heroine from Twelfth Night.  In the original play, she is shipwrecked and washes ashore in Illyria, where she launches a plan with a Sea Captain to disguise herself as a young man named Cesario.  We always wondered: why do Viola and the Sea Captain trust each other so quickly? Why is this Captain so eager to help? And what is the significance of the name Cesario?

In THE MASK OF NIGHT we’ll unveil Viola’s secret past with that Sea Captain – the famous pirate Cesario! It’s a swashbuckling tale of love, revenge, mutiny and marriage proposals – so all the good stuff Shakespeare loved.

But in addition to the comic, the board game lets you actually BECOME Viola, disguised as Cesario, and help your favourite (Kill) Shakespearean characters Hamlet, Juliet, Othello and Falstaff overthrow Richard III and Lady Macbeth and bring peace to the land.  Both the comic and the game will tie into each other in fun and quirky ways that will make both experiences richer. It’s like nothing you have ever read, or played, before.
Now that part "the comic and the game will tie into each other in fun and quirky ways that will make both experiences richer" is what intrigues me. The only thing I can think of that might be similar offhand was the Questprobe Game* which Marvel featured comics relating to the gameplay.** That has the potential to be really awesome, but also carries a risk--if the two are two intricately linked, readers might feel like they're being asked to sign on to also play the game. (I kinda expect most playing the game will have already read/wanted to read the comic, so I don't see the reverse effect.) There's also the question of whether the writing will take on too much of a game report feel because of the link.

It's very difficult to make your comic feel fresh when it's also being used for other media. When I read a comic that's clearly not meant to be a comic (Hi there, Thief of Thieves! You still exist? Still flogging to be a TV deal?), I actually get angry, because it's like the creators are slumming. On the other hand, I have generally been impressed with the fact that Kill Shakespeare has largely avoided this problem, as the third volume was very strong and quite better than the second, actually. So I trust them to get this right.

No matter what, though, it's going to be really interesting to follow. And if I am able, I might even try to snag the board game, too***. It would be fun to play around in the world they've created--even if it doesn't look like I can be Richard III and try to be eeeeevil.

Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night #1 is out June 18th.
Kill Shakespeare: The Board Game is scheduled for July release.

More information on Kill Shakespeare can be found here.

*Yes, I'm really old, I get it.

**Anyone ever read those? I never ran into them, at least not cheaply.

***If I do, I'll even do a review here. If not, I might see if someone else can do a guest post for us.