On sale from Wednesday 29th January 2020 in comic shops and newsagents is Marvel: Graphic Novel Collection: Volume 212: Knights Of Pendragon, a must-have for Marvel UK fans, reprinting the first nine issues of the Knights of Pendragon, a stunning, ahead-of-its-time superhero and environmental thriller, first published way back in 1990.
Written by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson with art by a then unknown Gary Erskine, supported by Bambos Georgiou, Kev Hopgood, Andy Lanning, coloured by Helen Stone, lettered by Annie Parkhouse and co-plotted, written and edited by Steve White, the series, with stunning covers from artists that include Simon Bisley, Alan Davis and Colin MacNeil, ran to just 18 issues when first published. But like Death’s Head and Dragon’s Claws before it, the book’s critical impact was immense and, along with the proven success of the wider MUK editorial team in the UK market with titles such as The Real Ghostbusters and Transformers, in my view, helped lay the seeds for the later “Marvel Genesis” project that included a relaunch of Knights of Pendragon and much more.
In Knights of Pendragon: Once and Future, the Earth is dying. From chemical pesticides to mass deforestation, from the poaching of endangered species to the slaughter of marine life, mankind’s greed has brought ruin upon the planet. Yet, the natural world is not without its protectors.
Guided by Sir Gawain, the Green Knight, Commander Dai Thomas, Captain Britain, reporter Kate McClellan and others find themselves chosen to become new knights in an ageless conflict against an unnatural destructive force. The spirit of the Pendragon cries out – will they have the courage to answer its call?
Reprinting Knights of Pendragon #1 -9 complete with original covers, last re-published by Panini UK back in 2009, Marvel: Graphic Novel Collection: Volume 212: Knights Of Pendragon features and introduction from Panini Publishing Director Marco M. Lupoi and background material compiled by Mike Conroy on the series’ origins, which includes insights from Dan Abnett, John Tomlinson and Steve White.
“This is not a safe super-hero book,” notes Marco. “There is something very unsettling about the story, but, like any classic horror, you can’t turn away from what you are seeing.”
Described by Dan as an “eco-superhero-Arthurian comic”, Knights of Pendragon borrows heavily from British folklore and from the growing New Age and neo-pagan subcultures that were emerging at the time of publication. It is also suffused in connections to the mythology and legends of King Arthur (he of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table fame), whose father was Uther Pendragon.
Clarifying the status of the series featured players, Abnett says, “They were certainly ‘Pendragons ’, i.e. each one was the ‘host ’ or vessel for a Pendragon spirit. So, if they ever called themselves anything, it would have been Pendragons, with KoP as the book title.”
“Considering this was artist Gary Erskine ’s ﬁrst professional work, you can ’t help but admire the way he handles the story,” Marco Lupoi enthuses. “From the mundane to the macabre, monstrous to the mythic, the sheer variety of settings, characters and concepts he is juggling would prove a challenge to an artist who had been drawing professionally for years. Yet, despite his inexperience, Erskine’s pencils channel the weirdness perfectly, capturing the spirit of Abnett and Tomlinson ’s highly nuanced script.”
Dan Abnett is reasonably happy with the way the series has stood the test of time – a series with themes that are even more relevant now, perhaps, than when first published.
“Some aspects of Knights of Pendragon have inevitably dated, such as, I would guess, the freshness and comparative novelty of an ecological message. But it still holds up pretty well.
“In a strange way, Knights of Pendragon feels to me like it makes signiﬁcantly more sense now than it did back then. But back then, we hadn’t stopped to consider what we were doing, and there was absolutely no side to it at all.”
Sadly, there are no current plans to reprint the rest of this excellent series, but collections of Dragon’s Claws and early Death’s Head are out this year as part of the Marvel: Graphic Novel Collection line. A bit of a shame to leave fans hanging…
• Marvel: Graphic Novel Collection: Volume 212: Knights Of Pendragon is on sale in all good newsagents from Wednesday 29th January 2020
• Artist, editor and writer Steve White is online at stevewhiteart.co.uk | Follow Steve White on Twitter @sharkbitesteve
• Gary Erskine is a returning guest to the London Film & Comic Con in Spring (29th February – 1st March). He will be sketching both days and have my sketchbooks, original art and assorted prints at the event. Pop by and say hello!
He’s also at Rutherglen Comic Con (1st February); Capital Sci Fi Con (14th – 15th February); and Sci Fi Scarborough (4th – 5th April); and Edinburgh Comic Con (11th – 12th April) | Check out our UK and Ireland Comic Events Guide here
With thanks to the Hachette Partworks for imagery featured here. Knights of Pendragon © Marvel