Ryan North: To Be or Not to Be — That Is the Adventure

Ryan North

Ryan North

Comics creator Ryan North arrived early to the webcomic party.

Back in the internet’s stone age — a.k.a. 2003 — Ryan North began writing Dinosaur Comics, a conceptual webcomic “where the pictures don't change but the words do.” From there he branched out to all sorts of writing, from Eisner-award winning Adventure Time comics to the best-selling Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series for Marvel.

In 2012, North launched a Kickstarter project for To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure, a choose-your-own-path retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In addition to offering dozens of storylines, it reimagined many of the play’s characters. Take Ophelia, for example: “You can choose what you want to do with your life: help your boyfriend [Hamlet] who's crying about a spooky ghost [his father], or, I don't know, TAKE DOWN INTERNATIONAL TERRORISTS INSTEAD??”

To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be

Much to his surprise, the project raised close to $600,000, making it the most-funded publishing project on Kickstarter at the time. And thanks to the project’s popularity, North was able to publish a sequel, Romeo and/or Juliet, with Penguin’s Riverhead Books.

In regard to his newest endeavor — Shakespeare Punches a Friggin’ Shark, a choose-your-own-adventure book based on Shakespeare's canon — North wants to assure you: “You, playing as William Shakespeare, will absolutely get to punch a shark.” The book allows readers to inhabit characters like Hamlet’s Yorick and Romeo & Juliet’s thumb-biting Sampson to create one-of-a-kind storylines.

So where will you go? “To thine own self be true.”

Back Shakespeare Punches a Friggin’ Shark here.