Fanbase Press Interviews James Aquilone on Launching the Kickstarter Campaign for ‘Shakespeare Unleashed’

The following is an interview with editor and writer James Aquilone regarding the recent launch of the Kickstarter campaign for Shakespeare Unleashed in collaboration with Monstrous Books and Crystal Lake Publishing. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Aquilone about how the followup collection to the Classic Monsters Unleashed anthology, his own contributions to the project, the incredible back rewards available to supporters of the campaign, and more!



Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on launching your latest Kickstarter campaign!  As the editor, how would you describe your thematic approach when arranging the horror story collection, especially as a complimentary successor to the Classic Monsters Unleashed anthology?

James Aquilone: I think arranging a story collection is like arranging an album. You kind of do it by feel and mood, for the most part. There's no hard and fast rules when it comes to it, though the usual guide is to put your strongest stories first and last.

BD: In bringing together a host of talented writers and artists for the project - including Joe R. Lansdale (Moon Lake) and Kasey Lansdale (Terror Is Our Business), Ian Doescher (William Shakespeare's Star Wars and William Shakespeare's Avengers), and Cullen Bunn (Tales from Harrow County), what can you tell us about the shared creative process of working with the creators to shepherd their stories to completion?

JA: For the most part, I leave the writers and artists alone to do their thing. The trick is to get the best talent and leave it to them. Occasionally, a writer will come to me and ask if their story idea fits the anthology, but the real work comes when you sit down to edit the story. But most writers aren't looking to collaborate. They're usually lone wolves.

Working with artists is very different and more collaborative. That's more about sharing your vision with an artist and allowing them to interpret it. Sometimes, the artist will ask for ideas, and, sometimes, they'll go off and do their own thing.

BD: The creative process of approaching an adaptation of a prior work - especially those as well known as Shakespeare’s works - can be a daunting experience.  How would you describe your approach to breathing new life into these stories, and what did you find to be most rewarding/challenging about the process in light of your own contributions to the project’s manga-sized comic?

JA: I think you have to put aside the legacy of Shakespeare if you want to do a project like this, and by that I mean not to worry about the fact that you're reworking or reimagining the work of a literary genius. But, look, these stories have already been used and reused for centuries. They form the foundation of Western literature. It's kind of hard not to be rewriting Shakespeare when you're, say, writing a romance. We're all adapting Shakespeare, in a way, every day in our own speech, with phrases like "dead as a doornail" or "wild-goose chase" or "there's a method to his madness." Even if you don't know Shakespeare, you know Shakespeare.

In the stories I wrote for the comic, I was a bit worried about trying to write dialogue that sounded like Shakespeare, so I used as little dialogue as possible. David Avallone, who wrote a story based on Richard III, did a great job having his characters sound Shakespearean.

BD: What are some of the fun backer rewards that are available to those who contribute to your Kickstarter campaign?

JA: The comic is really fun. Comics are always fun to write, and it's always great to work with the artists. I love J.K. Woodward's illustrations, which are also available as prints. And Zac Atkinson really outdid himself with the Shakespeare T-shirt. We have some really great looking stuff.

BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

JA: Following the success of my Kickstarters for Classic Monsters Unleashed and the Kolchak graphic novel, I decided to launch my own publishing company, Monstrous Books. Shakespeare Unleashed is the first project under that banner, and the plan is to put out more anthologies and comics, and probably novels and novellas.

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about and support the Kickstarter campaign for Shakespeare Unleashed?

JA: They can head to or follow us on Twitter.

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