BOOK RIOT -- This book is gorgeous and textural and incredible. Set in the '80s with a neon color palette to match, Wimberly's work, according to Professor John Jennings who wrote the introduction to the collected edition, "...isn't just a mishmash of things he digs. Yes, it's Romeo and Juliet
meets Kurosawa meets The Warriors
meets Planet Rock
. However, what makes Prince of Cats
so innovative is the fact that it acts as a reified index of that Hip Hop culture would manifest itself as visually...deals with notions of class, race, and gender through this unlikely courtship of comics, Hip Hop, and the works of Shakespeare...a black speculative space that explores the construction of black masculinity, notions of good and evil, and the nuanced storytelling methods that are totally part of the affordances of the comics medium."
The characters are almost as kinetic as living actors, with almost impossibly nuanced facial expressions and movement. The language is pure Shakespeare and pure Brooklyn, the connection of past to present, of sonnets to hip-hop flawless.
In case you've ever wondered about the book's title: Tybalt shares a name with the character Tybalt/Tibalt, Prince of Cats, from the medieval Reynard the Fox tales. In them, Tybalt is often outsmarted, and falls prey to, the clever fox. Mercutio uses the sobriquet as an insult when he hurls it at Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet
, foretelling Tybalt's rather inglorious end.