Improper Books, publishers of the acclaimed graphic novel Porcelain, have just announced a new title: Knight & Dragon, written by Matt Gibbs, with art from Bevis Musson and colours by Nathan Ashworth.
Knight & Dragon playfully subverts the story of a heroic Knight defeating a ferocious Dragon to rescue the fair Maiden, by offering variant paths and multiple outcomes to the classic fairy tale adventure.
Each narrative begins the same, with a beleaguered Knight riding his Horse into a seemingly deserted village, where the majority of the Villagers mistake him for a heroic warrior. Distracted by the beauty of the Maiden, before he really knows what he’s doing, the Knight agrees to fight a Dragon and, much to the Maiden’s evident dismay, the Village Chief offers the Knight her hand in marriage should he succeed. Learning too late from the Villagers that the Dragon is both huge and ferocious, the despondent Knight heads out to meet his fate, and at this point the stories begin to diverge…
From here, the Knight, Dragon and Maiden, along with the Horse, Farmhand and Village Chief, provide different paths through the unfolding narratives before reaching different endings.
“It began as an idea to create a comic that allowed changes in the sequence and resolution of its scenes, enabling different stories to be told,” says Matt of the book. “This lends itself seamlessly to digital comics, but in a similar fashion to gamebooks, a print version is just as possible with a bit of additional heavy lifting, or page turning, on the part of the reader.
“It has also allowed Bevis and I to explore our mutual love of fairy tales, and I’m delighted that the branching script didn’t put him off. I’m a big fan of his work, especially the excellent Dead Queen Detectives, and it has been brilliant seeing each page come to life in his style, which is being perfectly complimented by Nathan’s colours.’
“It’s always a pleasure to take things you love and approach them in a new way, so with Knight & Dragon I get to combine my love of fairy tales and comics and do something that is both familiar and surprising,” adds Bevis. “How could I not jump at the chance to draw a story with romance, drama, action, adventure and a whacking great dragon? In the end I even enjoyed drawing the horse, once I worked out he could wear a tablecloth.”
Improper Books is a comic and graphic novel imprint focusing on creator owned stories that have a touch of the fairy tale, the Gothic or the macabre.
Matt Gibbs (http://mattgibbs.net/) is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked on games such as Sega’s Binary Domain and Ubisoft’s Driver San Francisco, and is collaborating with a number of talented artists on comic and graphic novel projects. Alongside his freelance editing, he is the managing editor of Improper Books. Originally an archaeologist, he spent several years grubbing about in holes before turning to writing as a career.
Bevis Musson (http://bevismusson.deviantart.com) is the writer, artist and letterer of The Dead Queen Detectives. He would probably make the paper too if he knew how, but that would just be showing off. He lives in Manchester with his family and generally thinks making comics is a much better way of spending his time than anything else.
Nathan Ashworth (http://fiverarts.co.uk) is predominantly a colourist, working in a range of groups from Dead Roots and VS Comics to Afterlife Inc. and Art Heroes’ Halcyon & Tenderfoot series. Nathan likes tasty bright colours, punching mates and being fed more inks to play about with.
• Designed with both print and digital in mind, Knight & Dragon is a picture book comic for all ages, due out in 2013.
• More info from www.improperbooks.com or follow the publisher on Twitter: @ImproperBooks