Aptly referred to as "the B-SIde to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet", Ronald Wimberly's Prince of Cats pulls off quite a feat: successfully reimagining the world of Romeo and Juliet in an hepper-than-hep 1980s NYC where hip-hop and punk exist side-by-side and duels are settled with Samurai swords. The story here centers and pivots on the figure of Tybalt, with Romeo and Juliet as supporting cast. The art is dynamic, colorful and perfectly captures the mood while doing an amazing job of visually transcribing the throbbing soundtrack of the streets, train tracks, nightclubs, tenements, alleyways, nightclubs, bedrooms, offices, backrooms and underpasses that together weave an intricately colorful tapestry of the overarching and immortal theme of love amidst tribal conflicts. While Wimberly's art here has been justly praised, his command of the Shakespearean mode, and its adaptation to this setting is perhaps even more spectacular. His intuition of meter and measure in his translation of the streetwise lingo of Elizabethan England to the hepcat patois of 1980s New York is simply spot on every time, and a joyous wonder to read. Get this one for the jaded English major on your list.
This is the hardcover edition. It is now out of print.
BUT... Prince of Cats is now available in a new softcover edition, HERE!