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Choose your Adventure Hamlet | Bard in Multimedia

By January 19, 2015 No Comments

Not a fan of Shakespeare’s version of Hamlet? Wanna rewrite the old Bard? Want Hamlet to stop being so indecisive? Want Ophelia to stand up for herself and opt against suicide? Want to add in that off-stage pirate scene? Here’s your chance.

The number one most funded publishing project on Kickstarter To Be or Not To Be: That is the Adventure is available on Amazon. On day one, the project raised $100,000, 5 times its goal. By the end of the campaign more than 15,000 backers pitched in $580,905 to have the opportunity to get the first copies of the comic-game book. This victory is especially sweet after more than 25 publishers turned the idea down because it wasn’t marketable. But these rejections weren’t for this book. As with all things in life many individuals have co-existing ideas. Tom Helleberg and Mike Gorman, unknown to Ryan North, were the comic book duo who faced rejection.


In this “choose-an-adventure” comic-game book, from New York Times best-selling author and web cartoonist Ryan North, readers first choice is what character to be: Prince Hamlet, his girlfriend Ophelia, or the ghost of King Hamlet. The book has more than 100 endings, 110 ways to die, and considering all the different choice possibilities, North says in a Comic Alliance article, that the adventure has three quintillion different story possibilities in it. Hyperbole? Possibly, but the story options take some wild rides. Hamlet gets a chance to kill Polonius earlier than in the play, but then he gets trapped in a room with only five chances to dispose of the body before he is discovered. Ophelia doesn’t have to be a shrinking violet in Ryan’s story, either. The reader gets to choose if she stands up for herself or follows Shakespeare’s tragic ending.


To follow the story Shakespeare mapped out simply click on Yorick’s skull (some of the major scenes include some of Shakespeare’s dialogue), or re-write Shakespeare by picking another path for your character. North, who studied computational linguistics at University of Toronto, came up with the idea while driving in his car. The infamous line “To be or not to be” struck him as a choice perfect for a chose-your-adventure book model. Everywhere he saw an option to make another choice, he’d write it in. Six months later he had 80,000 words just waiting for its illustrators. The comic book features drawings from 65 cartoonists such as Alex Thomas (Star Wars: The Old Republic), Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Wes and Tony (Amazing Super Powers), Zach Weiner (Trial of the Clone!) and Aaron Diaz (Dresden Codak).

Author Deborah Voorhees

I am the writer and director of the indie film Billy Shakespeare, which asks, “What if Shakespeare never existed until now?” I also create music videos, shorts, and other feature films. I am in the editing room on a short from Othello and a film titled Catching Up. Prior to filmmaking, I covered arts and entertainment as a writer and editor for 16 years, mostly with The Dallas Morning News; I taught British Literature to AP and on-level seniors, Acting for Film at Eastern New Mexico State, and privately as a screenwriting coach. Currently, I am the Associate Editor for Multimedia at The Shakespeare Standard.

More posts by Deborah Voorhees

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