Prince Of Cats
Written and Illustrated by Ron Wimberly
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
First off, this book is beautiful. The character design is amazing, especially the way he creates a sort of guideline for the uniforms of the Capulets and Montagues, but makes sure to make the individual members distinct. The way he draws the swordfights is really nice, very clear and just bloody enough to be effective. There’s a million little details in the art in this book, and just about every panel is that type of panel where you just want to linger. It really reminded me of Eduardo Risso’s art, though that may just have come to mind because the dialogue reminded me so much of Brian Azzarello. And the coloring is amazing,
The dialogue, where it’s not just reworking Shakespeare’s original dialogue, manages to blend that sort of Shakesperian style with the type of language you actually hear in real life, into something that feels natural, but still has the intricate wordplay you’d expect out of Shakespeare. This, combined with Wimberly’s gift for facial expression, makes the more comedic sections, such as the sequence in the girls’ bathroom of Juliet’s schools where one of her schoolmates tells a story about Medusa giving a blowjob, all the more hilarious.
The world-building is pretty great, with quite a few really interesting side aspects that I wish had more time, but know would be that much less effective for it. The few glimpses we get into the duelling subculture, conveyed by newspaper stories after the swordfights, are best left as background texture, “Notorious” Barabus is best left as just a name and a number, and Noh Mercy, the Japanese-theater-inspired gang… well, I could stand to have seen more of them.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is how well it keeps the central Juliet/Romeo romance in the background, really only acknowledging it with a single set of panels in the middle of the final Romeo/Tybalt fight. (Spoiler alert: Tybalt dies at the end)
This is a really good-looking book, that happens to have a nice story, but it’s definitely a showcase for Wimberly’s art foremost.