The legend of Sir Bevis of Hampton is a story from British medieval mythology which has somehow fallen through the cracks. Once popularised all over Europe, this colourful, vivid story of one young man’s journey into adulthood and his burning desire for vengeance has somehow been forgotten – possibly because it takes its hero away from English shores – where the stories of the likes of King Arthur and Camelot and Robin Hood and his band of outlaws have thrived and prospered as very domestic home-grown legends. This new stark, blood-drenched publication seeks to redress the balance by resurrecting Sir Bevis and his colourful adventures for a new audience in a project which is part of the Eastleigh Borough Council ‘Digital Arts Programme Eastleigh (DAPE)’, a Tec Hub project that aims to support new talent and emerging businesses working with digital arts to explore inspirational and exciting new ways to present work.
Blood and Valour is a collected ‘graphic novel’ publication (often extremely graphic) containing an introductory four-part story – each section is effectively its own individual comic book with a splash page representing its own cover – which tells of the ten year-old Bevis whose father Sir Guy, the Earl of Hampton, is murdered in a plot hatched by his duplicitous mother, the King of Scotland’s daughter, and her lover Lord Conrad, brother to the Emperor of Germany. His home and his heritage lost, Bevis swears vengeance for his murdered father and, his own life at risk, is forced to flee into exile where he must bide his time, learning the skills he will need before he can return home and regain what it is his by right.
Created using a combination of traditional – if sometimes pleasantly rudimentary – artwork and clever digital imagery utilising real-life performers to bring key characters to life on the page, Blood and Valour is a fascinating, immersive experience and a refreshingly-different way of delivering a story in comic strip form. At this early stage – further volumes are promised chronicling Bevis’s continuing exploits – the story itself is fairly undemanding but the illustrations are often striking in their simplicity, cutting to the chase in telling the story cleanly and evocatively and the script is brittle, punchy and to the point. There’s a real sense of dirt-beneath-the-fingernails in the book’s depiction of a harsh, brutal medieval England where violence and lawlessness are rife and the threat of beheading and bludgeoning are daily facts of life.
Blood and Valour may be a little rough and ready around the edges for some tastes and the digital photography colour pages can be a little disorientating and risk tearing the reader out of the belly of the story, but this is a bold, exciting and ambitious new project which leaves us looking forward to future volumes and the further adventures of Bevis which promise “monstrous men and menacing monsters, giants and dragons, distant lands, nobles and treacherous Kings.” Or just another day at the office, as we call it here at Starburst HQ.
Find out more about the Blood and Valour series here
BLOOD AND VALOUR / PUBLISHER: EASTLEIGH BOROUGH COUNCIL / WRITER: MATT BEAMES / ARTIST: MARCUS PULLEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW