Twelfth Night


123 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-920792-47-2





Illustrations by John H. Howard
Reviewed by Susan Patrick

Susan Patrick is a librarian at Ryerson Polytechnical University.


Twelfth Night, the second volume of the Cartoon Shakespeare Series, follows the same basic format as Macbeth (an illustration of the cast of characters and a plot summary before the complete and unaltered text, followed by brief biographical notes on Shakespeare and the illustrator), but with two additions that are improvements. First, the illustration of the cast does include the roles or relationships of some of the characters, although they could have been made more complete, to include the whole cast. Secondly, there is a useful six-page glossary defining some of the more obscure words and explaining the arcane meaning of some of the expressions. John Howard’s artwork is original, imaginative, and full of interesting detail. The pictorial setting is basically modern-day, though several characters are dressed in elements of Elizabethan garb, while others look like punk-rockers or ride motorbikes. The faces of the characters, though stylized, are more sophisticated than those in the Macbeth drawings, more individualistic and believable, almost as if they were caricatures of actual people, rather than merely imagined cartoon faces. Again, the cartoon format seems appropriate for the recounting of a story that is complicated visually as well as in its plot. The plays of Shakespeare were intended to be seen, not read, and the Cartoon Shakespeare Series seems an excellent way to introduce Shakespeare to children, or to adults who have not seen the plays performed and feel that Shakespeare is too “difficult” to read and understand.


Shakespeare, William, “Twelfth Night,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 19, 2024,