Beowulf is a classic tale of man versus monster set during a time of heroic legends. With so many translations, adaptations, and retellings, it can be difficult to choose one for a young reader who enjoys adventure stories with heroes. However, Charles M. Schulz Studios artist Alexis E. Fajardo has reinterpreted the classic Beowulf story with charming and well developed characters, humorous dialogue, and action packed scenes filled with elements of mythological fantasy.
The graphic novel Kid Beowulf: The Blood-Bound Oath takes the age old tale of Beowulf, Grendel, and a diverse cast of creatures and creates a tale of fantasy adventure. The tale begins when Beowulf’s grandfather, King Hrothgar of Daneland, makes a pact with a legendary dragon in order to gain power over his enemies. He soon realizes that his pursuit comes with a price when his daughter, Gertrude, is born a half dragon, half human hybrid. Years later she gives birth to twin boys: Grendel, another dragon creature, and Beowulf, a human. As time passes, the boys learn about their past and prepare for the journey they will take.
The artist and creator, Alexis E. Fajardo, has created an imaginative story perfect for young fans of mythological adventure and fantasy stories. The story line is reminiscent of episodes of mythology that involve a hero, a monster, and magic. However, the stereotypical hero versus monster scenes of this story have been inverted. The monsters in this story attempt to understand the country they live in and the humans that live next door. Unlike the original Beowulf, Fajarado’s Grendel and his mother are not rampaging monsters but creatures trying to figure out their role in the world. Along with the human cast, they are well developed characters who try to protect their loved ones and their way of life.
Along with the great characters, Fajardo’s artwork and storytelling align perfectly. His cartoon-ish style will remind readers of newspaper comics, with expressive characters, little moments of humor, a bright color scheme, and comic onomatopoeia. Graphic novel readers who enjoy fantasy comics such as Jeff Smith’s Bone and Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet will be delighted with the fantasy elements and hints of mythological inspiration in the comic’s storyline, as well as the artistic depiction of Daneland and Geatland during the early middle ages.
Kid Beowulf is not a direct adaptation of the epic poem, but it will pique children’s curiosity. Fajardo includes little tidbits about his inspiration, as well as a bibliography of translated versions of Beowulf to encourage readers to read the original story. Whether they do so or not, they will be invested in this new tale and mark their calendars for the next installment.
Kid Beowulf: The Blood-Bound Oath, vol. 1
by Alexis E. Fajardo
Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12