Review: The Reason for Dragons / Author : Chris Northrop / Artist: Jeff Stokely / Publisher: Archia / Release Date: August 6th
Archia have been producing some excellent graphic novels recently, and all of them avoid the usual clichés of the industry extremely well. The Reason for Dragons is a coming of age story about a young boy called Wendell, who, in addition to dealing with the loss of his father (and not really getting on with his stepfather), has a problem with bullies. He takes up a challenge to go into an old, abandoned Renaissance Festival Park and steal a flyer, where he meets Sir Habaersham, who may be a knight trapped out of time, but is probably a crazy person. Both characters seek to undo their own personal tragedies by dealing with present traumas; an obviously impossible dream for both of them. The genius of The Reason for Dragons is that we don’t know if Sir Habaersham is proud, brave or just crazy, and Wendell is a strongly sympathetic character with whom the reader bonds almost instantly.
The idea of a modern person under the delusion that they are in fact some sort of medieval knight is a pretty old one; after all, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha was written over 400 years ago, and the idea is much older than even that. The Reason for Dragons not only continues in this proud tradition, it also carries the same themes of a distrust of the future and the dangers of romanticising the past.
Stokely’s art fits the feel of this book very well; it evokes the sort of kids' action adventure movies that were so common in the '80s and make The Reason for Dragons feel like a lost feature from the past. It’s very pleasant, and suitable for almost everyone, especially those likely to tilt at the odd windmill or two on occasion.