‘Beowulf’ Gets ‘Game of Thrones’–Style Graphic Novel From Image Comics
Whether you read it in high school or college, Old English epic poem Beowulf has been a staple of schools for both its brevity and universality. Written between 975 and 1025 by an anonymous poet, it’s set in what is now modern-day Scandinavia, and is a classic tale of good versus evil, pitting the title hero against the monster Grendel and later a dragon (which—spoiler alert!—fells him).
Without a doubt, Beowulf is proto–Game of Thrones or –Lord of the Rings, what with its hefty helping of mead-swilling, claret-red gore, vicious monsters, and musclebound heroes; it truly is one of the first fully formed fantasy tales of its kind. And it shows: Everyone from J.R.R. Tolkien himself to Nobel Prize–winning poet Seamus Heaney have produced their own readings of the tale (there are countless others). There have also been a spattering of big-budget blockbusters (one starring Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins; see the still above), TV miniseries, and video games based on the poem.
One of its most recent translations was by Spanish comic author Santiago García and artist David Rubín, which according to its publisher, Image Comics,
“… is neither revisionist nor postmodern, capturing the tone and important details of the poem, translating its potent, epic resonance and melancholy into a contemporary comic that isn’t standard swords and sorcery or heroic fantasy fare—but rather an ancient story with a modern perspective that remains respectful of the source material.”
RealClearLife had a chance to flip through an advance copy, and it’s caked in softly falling snow (it takes place in the frozen tundra that is Scandinavia, remember) and blood (there are more than a few “Red Wedding”–esque moments within its panels). We won’t give too much of the updated story away, but you can expect an epic first bout between Beowulf and Grendel completely in the nude, with the hero wrenching off one of the monster’s arms a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail‘s “black knight” sketch. (Like most fantasy badasses, he ends up hanging the limb from the rafters of the mead hall for everybody to see.)
The Spaniards’ take on the poem, entitled Beowulf: An Enduring Epic, is being released in hardcover form for the first time in English on Dec. 14 (in comic stores) and Dec. 20 (in bookstores) for $29.99. Copies can also be pre-ordered here.
Below, find Grendel’s seven-page introduction to the graphic novel.
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