Laurier alumni Kill Shakespeare

Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col are not your typical Laurier Business grads.

After leaving Laurier, the duo launched successful careers in broadcast journalism and the music industry, respectively.

But when the pieces of their inventive entrepreneurial venture fell into place, this was all thrown to the wind and Kill Shakespeare was born.

Described by McCreery as a “trans-media project,” Kill Shakespeare incorporates mediums such as graphic novels, films and video games to retell the story of some of the Bard’s greatest heroes and villains.

The seventh issue of Kill Shakespeare’s graphic novel was released last week and the co-creators held an event for the release at Carry-On Comics in Uptown Waterloo.

The project first originated with a screenplay written by McCreery and Del Col.
Del Col explained the inspiration behind the story, saying, “The title Kill Bill came up, we thought instead of trying to track down David Carradine, we’ll try to track down Billy Shakespeare.”

Prominent characters include some of Shakespeare’s most beloved protagonists like Othello, Juliet, Hamlet and Falstaff, pitted against villains Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago to name a few.

McCreery elaborated on the broader concept of the series, “We’ve pitted them against each other on a quest where they can either save or kill a mysterious wizard named William Shakespeare.”

Discussing the appeal of such a story, Del Col noted that Shakespeare still has an overwhelming place in cultures all over the world and claims that Kill Shakespeare’s goal is “to get people excited about Shakespeare in a whole new way.”

He continued, “This is definitely not your high school English teacher’s version of Shakespeare. It’s younger, it’s kind of edgy and dark, it highlights the bloody violence and the action-adventure, but we also have the love, romance and comedy.”

McCreery spoke to The Cord about the audiences that have been reached by the graphic novel so far, including their youth fans.

The pair has been surprised by the response from “tweenage” girls and McCreery joked, “Anthony’s very excited about casting Robert Pattinson in the feature film.”

Kill Shakespeare really took off in the fall of 2008 when McCreery and Del Col made the decision to invest in the project full-time, leaving behind jobs at the Business News Network and managing artists like Nelly Furtado and K-Os.

The former BBA students drafted a business plan in what proved to be one of the most difficult economic periods in recent history, but managed to get the idea off the ground.

Both co-creators were heavily involved during their time at Laurier and recalled fondly their Laurier experiences.

“It gives you opportunities to get involved and to be in leadership positions in all sorts of different things,” said McCreery of the small campus community at WLU.

He volunteered at Radio Laurier and was a proud Golden Hawk on the lacrosse team during his Laurier years.

Del Col was involved with the Fringe Festival and even produced a feature length film with help from Student Publications, the Students Union and the community, which he claims was his “first real taste of the film and media industry in Canada,” as well as what made him passionate about the field.

McCreery was quick to applaud Laurier for fostering an “entrepreneurial spirit” through students’ ability to easily cross disciplines and try out new activities.

“We both matured in an environment that really encouraged you to be in Student Pubs, and be doing sports, and trying something in theatre and going to the Turret,” he stated.

The seventh issue of Kill Shakespeare’s graphic novel is now available in Waterloo at Carry-On Comics on King St. and will soon be available through Chapters and Indigo.

For anyone interested in an introduction to the series, the first two instalments are available for free on iTunes.

“We’re business grads who are writing a comic book, which for a lot of people would have been too big a jump,” said McCreery, but for these two Laurier alumni it’s a jump that seems to have worked out just fine.