"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Beowulf - The Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds




Beowulf
Author/Illustrator: Gareth Hinds
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN 10: 0763630225
ISBN 13: 9780763630225


It wasn’t till my late 20’s that I discovered Beowulf and instantly fell in love with the saga. How could I not? Beowulf’s hand to hand combat battle with the monster Grendel is absolutely fascinating and bloody. I could well imagine storytellers of old singing out this tale over tankards of ale and the excited faces of the audiences. Grendel’s horrible mother scared the heck out of me and the final and fatal battle with the dragon, wow. To think that this story is over 1000 years old and possibly even from 750-800 AD is simply astounding. I love epic poetry and think everyone should read it. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my love of ancient sagas.

A few years ago, I read Seamus Heany’s Beowulf, A New Translation and fell in love all over again. I adore Heany and his translation of this classic tale really resonated with me and brought Beowulf to the forefront of my mind once again. When I heard that Gareth Hinds had done a graphic adaptation, I simply had to read it.

For those who are unfamiliar with Gareth Hinds, he is an astounding artist and illustrator. He is also quite a talented animator with work on some absolutely amazing video games like Neverwinter Nights, Tak and the Power of JuJu, Ratatouille, Star Wars New Droid Army to mention a few. Gareth Hinds’ website http://www.thecomic.com/ has quite a bit of the Beowulf story and artwork as well as other illustrated stories like Deus Ex Machina and Bearskin.

I received the Candlewick Press hardcover edition of Gareth Hinds’ Beowulf two days ago and just went crazy. It’s a total feast for the senses and beautifully done. The artwork is just amazing. Everything about it is gorgeous, the colors, the art, the movement and fluidity of the hero’s body as it battles with Grendel who is marvelously hideous. The text is based upon the translation by A.J. Church, published by Seely & Co in 1904 and is beautifully typeset.




I admire both Gareth Hinds and Candlewick’s effort to make Beowulf accessible and appealing to a modern audience. I know that Beowulf will find a whole new audience, a huge fan following of this astounding book and that’s just amazing. This book is an amazing work and should be in every school library as well as a required schoolbook in high school English classrooms.


Book Description (from the publisher):
The epic tale of the great warrior Beowulf has thrilled readers through the ages -- and now it is reinvented for a new generation with Gareth Hind’s masterful illustrations. Grendel’s black blood runs thick as Beowulf defeats the monster and his hideous mother, while somber hues overcast the hero’s final, fatal battle against a raging dragon. Speeches filled with courage and sadness, lightning-paced contests of muscle and will, and funeral boats burning on the fjords are all rendered in glorious and gruesome detail. Told for more than a thousand years, Beowulf’s heroic saga finds a true home in this graphic-novel edition.

This exhilarating graphic-novel edition of an ancient classic honors the spirit of the original as it attracts modern readers.

Author’s comments:

Gareth Hinds says, "BEOWULF gave me the chance to explore the superhero story in a more timeless way, without the skintight suits and other wacky conventions of that genre. I wanted to show people how cool a story this really is." He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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