With the end of Sir Reynard and the Green Rooster comes the end of a project that I started nearly 3 years ago (2019). I had one goal in mind at the time: to try to capture some of the delight I got from reading Calvin & Hobbes. I’m not sure if I succeeded or not but, like Calvin’s attempts to foil the babysitter, I am happy that I tried.
Hope your holidays are bright and filled with joy, even if everything seems a little darker than usual.
As I prepare to release the second arc, I’ve been thinking back to the time before Beast Fables. In 2010, I wrote and launched a short-lived comic called Errant Em (you might see that name pop up again in a new project ;). Errant Em followed a knight errant, Em, turned detective who was working to uncover the mystery of the missing girdle. The comic featured the earliest form of Chauntilak, in all his indignant glory, and led to many of the same story points I used to kick off Sir Reynard and the Green Rooster.
I even had an earlier version of Rey, who played a supporting role to Chaunti and Em’s ridiculous adventures.
Both Beast Fables and Errant Em shared their source with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but tackled the material in very different ways. I haven’t fully given up on the idea of a medieval detective story, which I think could still be pretty funny and delightful, but the original really didn’t have enough legs to see it through to a satisfying conclusion.
Not that I’m dwelling on the past! I’m very happy where Beast Fables is going and excited to reveal the next part of the story. This just serves as a friendly reminder that some projects will morph into new things over time and that’s ok. Nothing you’ve written/drawn/worked on is truly gone and forgotten—it might just take on a form that you don’t expect.
Until next time, Be(a)sties!
I’m on Substack now! Check out https://beastfables.substack.com/ and subscribe for updates, artwork, and more!
Reynard persuades the crow to sing and drop the cheese he is holding, in Le Roman de Renart: Add MS 15229, f. 33r
The course goes over a little bit of historical context of what Middle English is, introduces beast fables as a narrative form, and then suggests a few readings in the original Middle English to tackle. There are not a lot of surviving beast narratives from medieval England, so it makes for the perfect short topic course. If you’re even remotely interested in the Middle Ages as a topic of study, or are just curious to hear what it sounded like, I think you’ll find the material really interesting.
There’s an added bonus that the material is going to help you understand the comic and what it is referencing too, so keep that in mind as a nice like perk. Oh, and it’s 100% FREE. I am committed to sharing knowledge about the Middle Ages and offering new opportunities to interact with these materials outside of a university.
You can sign up either at https://learning.beastfables.com/ or using the card below. Enjoy!
There was a time in my life when my goal was a PhD in Middle English Romances. Romances, for the uninitiated, are tales about knights and monsters, chivalry, and courtly love. All of the things you expect from a good fantasy these days. I ditched that path and am now a programmer (it’s complicated), but I’ve never really lost my love of the Middle Ages and the mystery that surrounds them. Studying medieval history always felt like a treasure hunt, where you’re constantly trying to uncover clues about an era with very little surviving information. We know a lot of what went on, but are still surprised when our assumptions are debunked.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (SGGK) is an interesting romance, because it does and doesn’t fit within the tradition. There’s a knight, Gawain, and his challenger, the Green Knight, but it glosses over a lot of what a more standard Romance like Sir Eglamour of Artois has — monsters, maidens, tournaments, magic rings — in favour of a lot of boring bedroom scenes and 50 lines of Gawain getting his armour on (pun intended). A section in the middle of the poem glosses over the battles he would have had while travelling, like fighting giants, in favour of complaining about how cold wearing metal armour is in the winter. It’s a romance that feels really down to earth, and that’s partly why I chose it as my starting point.
I think a lot of SGGK’s enduring charm comes from how different it is from the rest of the genre. Tropes are regularly thrown out in favour of what seems like a more real setting, where it’s entirely plausible that a giant green man might just show up at your Christmas dinner party and no one would be all that surprised. It’s a fantasy setting firmly rooted in reality, and that’s pretty cool. I wanted a bit of ‘the real’ to seep into Beast Fables, which is a story about animals (that fact already makes it pretty fantastical). So, I grounded the story in SGGK to help keep one foot in reality and make this is a retelling for the people. I hope you’re enjoying so far. There’s a lot more to go!
I’m having fun exploring more of what I can do in and with the Beast Fables universe. There is another series in the works that’s in an early draft, there’s more online content for social and the like, and I’m playing around with game development. It’s too early to share anything definitive, but it’s nice to just play around with a new form of development.
Hello world! is a cliche beginning, but I like it. It’s the way that all programming tutorials start, and so seems like a fitting beginning for my latest project. As a programmer & artist, I’m always trying to bridge the gap between my two favourite disciplines, and a webcomic seems like a nice combination of the two.