Beowulf and the Creationist: A lesson in critical thinking

Maybe it’s possible that, ceolocanth-like, one or two species of dinosaur lived on into the ancient Greek world. Maybe one even made it far enough to meet a knight or medieval king. Although, if the stories are to be taken literally, any dinosaur in such a situation would be summarily slain.

As an explanation for the dragon in fiction, the idea that some giant lizard from a long lost age doesn’t seem too far fetched if you limit it to the stories that early sailors no doubt told about giant sea serpents. These kinds of stories could have easily inspired the the water-based dragons of stories like Perseus and Andromeda. From there, poets and artists could have easily added their own twist to the terrible monster of the deep by bringing it onto land, letting it breathe fire, and having it fly on enormous leathery wings.

But to think that the flying dragon of medieval Europe was itself a dinosaur is a little too much. And claiming that the dragon that terrorizes the Geats in the last third of Beowulf is an eye-witness account of a dinosaur is downright dumb. Yet, according to this article, that’s exactly what geologist Andrew Snelling claimed when reporter Charles Wolford asked about the matter.

Now, Snelling is a staunch creationist. Wolford caught up with him at the Noah’s Ark theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky. So Snelling’s understanding of the world’s history is necessarily compressed. But to think that a dragon’s being in Beowulf is eye-witness proof is problematic on two levels.

First, there are no fossils (as far as I know) for a dinosaur that’s long and serpentine like a Chinese dragon but that also has wings like the dragon on the Welsh flag. Even setting that aside in the “physical evidence category,” I also know of now dinosaur which paleontologists believe could breathe fire. There are a lot of “what if” books about this point of dragon physiology, and many of them try to be as “scientific” as possible. But these books, like Beowulf, are fiction.

Which brings me to my second point. The use of Beowulf‘s dragon as evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived together at some point in the past is a fantastic example of people picking and choosing what they want to get out of a story. Because if the dragon is a real monster, then so too must Grendel and Grendel’s mother be based on real monsters.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time making the case that Grendel and Grendel’s mother are sympathetic characters, maybe even the remnants of a displaced clan of people. But even if they were inspired by such, the details that we’re given about them in the poem are far from being based in reality.

Grendel is immune to weapons made of iron. But I can guarantee that 10 out of 10 people who try to nick themselves with an iron knife will bleed – humans are not iron resistant.

Along similar lines, Grendel’s blood melted the blade of an ancient sword. I’m guessing that most people who are reading this have bled before, and probably didn’t have the bandage or tissue they used to staunch the bleeding melt away as the red stuff spilled out onto these pads.

So if people like Snelling want to say that Beowulf is proof that humans and dinosaurs co-existed, then they must also believe that there are humanoids on earth that bleed a kind of acid and who are immune to iron weapons.

Now, I feel like I’ve come down a little hard on Snelling. And I kind of mean to.

After all, I think that there is some truth both philosophical and historical in Beowulf.

The prevalence of trolls and dragons in stories suggests that they were popular for a reason, though I don’t think that it’s because they were ever real in the way that ancestral swords were. I understand Beowulf as being historically reflective of tropes and metaphors and ideas that were popular when it was written.

It’s one thing to say that, for example, Beowulf took on the people of early Sweden and died in a pyrrhic victory, but it’s much more interesting and hardcore to say that he fought a dragon that was terrorizing his people and died doing so. Making a battle with a dragon the climax of a story about a man whose power makes him as monstrous as the monsters he fights is just far more suiting than saying that he died fighting some war.

Likewise, let’s say that there’s a historical analogy for the first two thirds of the poem. If so, then it’s much more heroic and exciting to read about a man defeating two monsters that no one has even got close to scratching for twelve years than to read about a bully from Geatland coming in and killing off the last two of a tribe of people who have an ancestral claim to the lands where Heorot stands.

Part of the power of fiction is embellishment, and when we forget that, we leave ourselves open to looking very foolish indeed.

But that’s also what makes knowing the difference between fiction and fact and knowing how fiction can be given the sheen of fact (think fake news) that makes thinking critically about what we read incredibly important. And what Snelling’s interpretation of Beowulf teaches us here is that it’s important to think just as critically about what gets written today as what was written 1000 and more years ago.

The book that changed Beowulf’s course in pop culture

The cover for the 1989 edition of John Gardner's Beowulf-inspired Grendel.

The cover for the 1989 edition of John Gardner’s Grendel. Image from http://amzn.to/2gZcPqK

I first read John Gardner’s novel Grendel while studying for my master’s degree at the University of Victoria. The same copy I read then now sits on my shelf, begging for a reread. And it’s deserving of one, I think. I remember the novel being a complex web of meanings and interpretations, though the meaning that was front and centre was a straightforward critique of human society through the eyes of Grendel.

Yes, as the book’s title suggests, it focuses on Grendel and what he gets up to between bouts of terrorizing Heorot. But it’s not all loping around the moors, scaring animals and feasting on his victims. The humans intrigue him as they build Heorot and celebrate its beauty and light. But he also sees and feels just how different he is from the Danes. And when Grendel first sees Beowulf he has this eerie feeling that his days are numbered.

It’s a good read, and from Gardner’s flipping of the original poem’s focus, to his social commentary through the monster’s eyes, to his use of zodiac symbolism, there’s a lot to its 174 pages. If you have the chance you should check it out!

But what brought Gardner’s book to mind today was my discovery of this extract from an article that centres around Gardner’s Grendel.

The extract explains how the pop culture scholars Michael Livingstone and John William Sutton argue that though the 20th century is full of adaptations of Beowulf, Gardner’s Grendel marks a turning point in these works. Whereas those that came before the novel are usually just retellings of Beowulf tailored to suit various genres and audiences, those that came after it share in Gardner’s use of the poem and of Grendel to generate social commentary on specific figures, incidents, or observed traits of the human condition.

If you’re interested in reading their article in full, you can find it here.

Along with Livingston and Sutton’s main thesis, the article is a treasure trove of adaptations that I never even knew existed. So if you’re interested in reading historical fiction based around Beowulf, or tracking down a rock musical in which Grendel’s a punk rocker, check out that article for some extra details.

Why do you think the Beowulf story is so widely adapted? What is it about the story and its characters that make it so flexible?

Beowulf meets Hollywood in Beowulf: The Blockbuster

Bryan Burroughs in Beowulf: The Blockbuster, a one man show pop culture-infused retelling of the epic.

A still from Bryan Burroughs’ one man show Beowulf: The Blockbuster. Looks like a great show! (Image from http://www.beowulftheblockbuster.com/)

I had always figured that Seamus Heaney would be the only prominent Irish figure to take on Beowulf. But. I was wrong.

The actor Bryan Burroughs has tackled the story in his one man show Beowulf: The Blockbuster. You can check out the show’s website here.

The premise for the play is that Burroughs’ character is a terminally ill father telling his son the final bed time story that he will get to tell him. But, rather than just being a straight retelling of Beowulf, it is an improvised retelling full of elements that Burroughs’ character’s son adds in.

So, instead of Beowulf just being about a lone warrior taking on demons there are things from Jaws or Nightmare on Elm Street thrown in. Or, more specifically, as Burroughs mentioned in an interview with Shelley Marsden of The Irish World, the son suggests that Grendel sounds like Chewbacca, and so Burroughs’ character obliges.

It sounds like an awesome sight to behold. Especially because, as Burroughs plays all of these different parts, he also attempts various impressions to keep them separate. I may not be able to read Beowulf‘s dialogue without slipping into a bit of Sean Connery’s accent after reading that it’s what Burroughs uses for the Geat.

Though what makes this performance interesting to me is that it wasn’t initially going to be about Beowulf.

As he explains in that interview, Burroughs wanted to explore the question of what a parent who knew they had one hour left with their child would say to them. Beowulf only came into play because it has a tight three act structure (whether he covers the whole poem or just the Grendel bit is unclear, but either way there are three acts involved), and was a way for him to tell a story about how wonderful it is to be mortal. Plus, I think that as such an archetypal story Beowulf lends itself to having other characters and stories attached to it.

As always with performances like this, the only thing I don’t really like is that it’s not likely I’ll see the whole thing. Thankfully, though, there is this excerpt. Enjoy!

A balanced Beowulf translation: J.B. Kirtlan

The cover for J.B. Kirtlan's 1913 translation of Beowulf.

Cover of J.B. Kirtlan’s 1913 Beowulf translation. Image from: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/50742

This is another busy week for me, so I want to take this opportunity to bring your attention to a different kind of Beowulf adaptation: translations!

In particular, I want to share the translation that the Legends Myths and Whiskey podcast used for their Beowulf: A Mythosymphony (a reading of the story with original music and some commentary in between). This is J.B. Kirtlan’s 1913 translation.

The most notable thing about this translation is that it’s in prose rather than poetry. Though this might seem to ruin the effect of the original a bit, I think that Kirtlan’s prose makes the story pop for an audience who might not be comfortable with reading line after line of alliterative verse.

At the same time, though, since it was written over 100 years ago, the language is somewhat dated as Kirtlan throws words like “byrnie” and “banesman” around without any kind of explanation. A quick internet search will reveal the meanings of these words, but that might detract from the story for some. Likewise, he’s written with a bit of an “Olde Englyshe” affectation as he changes word order and spelling to look more archaic than the English of 1913.

Luckily, however, Kirtlan keeps the story’s pace going strong and even with the quirks of the language used, manages to tell an entrancing rendition.

All in all, Kirtlan’s is a pretty balanced translation in that its prose format keeps the story moving (even through asides), while its free use of older words maintains the flavour of the original.

Here’s a link to several formats of the complete J.B. Kirtlan translation online (via project Gutenberg). You can judge for yourself, but I think this is a translation that brings Beowulf into the modern age while also retaining some of the original’s old-ness and mixing in some turn of the century philology as well.

When it comes to a story as old and foreign-seeming as Beowulf, what do you think makes an ideal translation?

An old find of coins highlights the importance of history

This week, an article by Tom Holland’s from January 3, 2015 proves to be as philosophical as I expected from the title: “Why Buried Treasure Never Loses its Lustre.” The nice thing about this piece is that despite its timing and mention of Christmas, it isn’t overbearing or syrupy in any way.

In the article, Holland uses the then recent discovery of a hoard of coins in a Buckinghamshire field to illustrate that the English (and humanity as a whole, really) have gone through tough times before and pulled through. In particular, since the coins date back to the early 11th century, Holland focuses on the transition from the reign of Aethelred II (famously “The Unready”), and Cnut, the Viking turned Christian king.

By Holland’s brief account this period was a terrible transition, as Aethelred II’s death brought a crumby reign to an end only to see a greedy despot take his place: in the first year of his reign, Cnut basically demanded a 100% tax. Holland doesn’t go into the details, but at some point Cnut had a change of heart and took up the idea that the greater and more powerful the person, the more penitent they must be.

What ties this story so neatly to the time when it was written though, is that the metal detectorist who found the hoard of coins (valued at a cool £1 million) was unemployed and nearly broke at the time. A strange confluence of circumstances that reinforces the lesson that Holland takes from the history contained in the coins that come from a transitional period in English history.

Like these coins and the lesson of perseverance they teach, I think that the same can be said of Beowulf.

Though, just as if you found coins with an unfamiliar face or language on them, they’d be meaningless to you (except maybe for the money they could sell for). After all, as is the case with those coins, so much of what makes Beowulf relevant to modern times is hidden behind historical and cultural differences.

Which raises the question of “why bother?”

After all, we live in a time when several answers to just about any one question are always at our finger tips. So why bother learning about the history lived or literature written and read by people who are now long dead?

Which is a valid question.

At least until you realize that because the culture and the history from which Beowulf (or those coins) came no longer exists, we can find an alternate perspective on modern issues (PTSD, distribution of wealth, heroism). These alternatives might not always be the quick solution that we’re looking for (letting all wealth flow to one person who is then trusted to redistribute it evenly would definitely not work today), but they can offer insight into how another person from another time would deal with a similar problem.

Which makes things like those coins or Beowulf into a kind of mirror in which we can see ourselves and our problems. Looking into such a mirror we stand a better chance of finding something even more meaningful or helpful, since the mind doesn’t always work in a straight, logical line. Instead, it sometimes needs the shock of an idea that is utterly radical or strange to come to reach the desired conclusion.

How do you think that Beowulf is useful to modern people? Do you think it’s still useful beyond just being a really cool story?

A detour into the archaeological side of the Beowulf story

Archaeological find from Lejre of a silver figurine of Odin seated on his throne.

A silver figurine of Odin seated on his throne. Image from Von Harafnisa – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26076283.

Last week I dug up an article by David Keys that explained how the work of Dr Sam Newton showed that Beowulf was indeed an English story. Being more familiar with the literary side of the issue than the archaeological one, I was intrigued when simonjkyte posted a comment explaining that he didn’t believe that Beowulf was an English story.

Simonjkyte based his position on the idea that the alleged early Anglo-Saxon site Spong Hill (in North Elmham, Norfolk, England) was actually a Scandinavian site. This difference of settlers could be momentously important to the origin of Beowulf. If Spong Hill was in fact a Scandinavian settlement, then there would be a permanent Scandinavian presence in Anglo-Saxon England which could be the way in which Beowulf went from being a Scandinavian story to one told, and ultimately written down, by Old English speakers.

This week, I found another David Keys piece that sheds a bit more light on the subject. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time as I’d like for these posts, so it’s not directly about Spong Hill and who the archaeological evidence suggests its early settlers were. Instead this article is about the discovery of a hall that could have been the basis for Heorot. This hall, unsurprisingly, is in Lejre (23 miles west of modern day Copenhagen), Denmark. Here’s the link.

To sum it up, Keys’ article explains how an archaeological expedition led by Tom Christensen uncovered a handful of royal halls near Lejre. Why a handful? Apparently, the Danes of the day dismantled the halls and moved them every few generations.

What Christensen and his team found in these halls suggests trade with England and the Rhineland, and their arrangement suggests that there was indeed something that drove the Danes of the day away from one of the halls; most of them are close together, but there is one that is 500 metres to the north of the rest.

Where this article starts to clarify the true origin of the Beowulf story and how it got to England is when Keys notes that Beowulf was likely brought to England when Scandinavian settlers came in the 6th or 7th centuries AD. So, somewhat confusingly, this three year old article admits that Beowulf is of Scandinavian origin, but was then made English by being written down.

This transmission and acquisition of stories happens all the time. If something strikes a people as being particularly important, then surely they’ll write it down. Even if it winds up turning into a poem of over 3000 alliterative lines.

So I guess the thinking behind announcing Beowulf as an English story is though Beowulf‘s origin is Scandinavian, the English made it their own when they wrote it down, giving the characters characteristic English wit, highlighting (or adding?) themes of storytelling and how greatness grates to a halt in the face of death.

Of course, given the settings of Daneland and Geatland, it seems that Beowulf definitely started out as a Scandinavian story, but it was transformed by the English into something different. Something different enough to make it English.

Though that transformation through writing doesn’t make it any less problematic that writing something down in your language gives you claim to it (much like the idea that sticking your flag in a chunk of land makes it yours). For me, this underlines even more how mixed and mingled the world’s cultures are. Just as individuals are the sum of their multifarious experience, so too are countries, it seems, which makes certain politicians’ ideas of border walls and exclusion utterly ridiculous.

Who do you think owns a story when it starts out as an oral performance only and is later written down? The originator? The writer? Or by the time that the split between performed and written happens are they two different stories regardless of their shared origin?

When Beowulf was confirmed to be an “English” story

In an effort to look at something other than an adaptation of Beowulf, this week, I’m looking back through time. Just a mere 23 years, though, peering back at 1993. Why? Because this was the year when Beowulf‘s English-ness was confirmed.

David Keys tells the story in this article.

Here’s the summary: From the mid 1970s onwards, the accepted academic opinion was that Beowulf, with all of its ship burials and stories of heroics in Daneland and Geatland, was a story from the viking Danes. In other words, Beowulf was not an English story.

But, thanks to the seven years work of Dr Sam Newton, the Anglo-Saxon literature specialist, it was confirmed that Beowulf is indeed an English story about the English. Newton’s reasoning for this claim was based on his findings that there are no Scandinavian loanwords in Beowulf, that the names of the characters come from Old English templates, and that the major characters in Beowulf are revered by the early English, not the 10th century Vikings.

Newton even went so far as to say that the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings came from the same geographic area, save that the Anglo-Saxons came over to Britain about 500 years earlier, making this poem about the very early English. And so the oldest poetry from old English was confirmed to be English.

But so what?

Well, I think that this story was newsworthy at the time (and would be today as well) because national stories are important. And that’s not something that the Americas grew out of after they were colonized within the last five centuries.

The American stories of nationhood are inescapable the world over — ideas of manifest destiny and their country being the swinging bachelor pad of democracy where anyone can be anything if they only work at it. As a Canadian, although it often seems like we’re just America’s hat up here, I know that even we have a story, albeit one that’s much more quietly told.

The Canadian story is one of resilience in nature, of diversity and acceptance in society, and of striving to be globally minded in thought.

Whenever a group of people gets together anywhere in the world they’ll eventually tell the story of how or why they got there (even when there are already people where they got to who have their own story). Why? Because stories have a great deal of power to define and celebrate in-groups. Though that’s not to say that outsiders can find a place in an already established national story.

Along with the importance of confirming that it was their own original story, Dr Newton’s work ensured that the UK had Beowulf as the basis for its story. But I think that there’s another element to the importance of claiming Beowulf as an English story. Particularly if it’s a story of the early peoples who would eventually come to Britain and form the basis of the English.

And this is it: The Anglo-Saxons, who, after centuries of mingling with other cultures and peoples, became the modern English, are not native to Britain.

Though, after centuries of living somewhere it’s all too easy to get comfortable and forget that you haven’t always been there.

What do you think the purpose of a national story or epic is?

Beowulf told with puppets gets me thinking about performance

Thanks to a Google alert I have set up for “Beowulf poem” (leaving off “poem” would net me nothing but updates about a company with the same name), I came across a puppet version of Beowulf that’s currently in the works.

As you can read here, this version of the poem has been in the works for more than a year.

The Hawk Rock Theatre of Putnam County, NY is putting the show on, and judging from the pictures of the puppets and the props, it looks like everything in the show has been carefully crafted. In fact, even the script was adapted with care. Apparently local English scholar Kate Mackie did the adaptation. And it sounds like they couldn’t have had a better writer on the project, since Mackie first read Beowulf in Old English when she was 19. I don’t even think I knew what Old English was when I was 19 (aside from the common idea that what Shakespeare wrote is “ye Olde Englishe”).

In past entries I’ve noted that all of the adaptations of Beowulf that I’ve found out about stand as proof that this 1000+ year old poem still resonates with people. I think that performances of it are still happening really speaks to this. Especially when those performances do incredibly well, such as Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage.

But, as is the case with that musical take on the poem and this puppet performance, their reach is, sadly, severely limited.

Brewster, the town whose HamletHub news page reported on the upcoming puppet performance is a village in New York.

Nonetheless, these very local performances just remind me that even though people can and will record whatever their phones can hold only to later upload them somewhere online, being present for a live performance still matters. Performance can still be intimate and immediate.

It’s kind of strange, but thinking about Beowulf and this puppet show adaptation makes it seem to me that as access to content increases, there’s a lot more power and importance put back into smaller venues.

It’s been a while since I’ve been out to a concert, but I can’t help but think that going to a larger venue only to watch the show through a monitor that’s closer to you than the stage is kind of ridiculous. Sure, the sound is still crisp and energized and live, but the visuals are just an image on a screen. I think it’s much better if you can see the person you’ve come to see, and (glaring stage lights aside) they can see you.

Of course, packed stadiums can bring an artist way more income than a packed small town theatre. But there’s something lost when artistic energy is dispersed so far and wide through a monstrous crowd. Although truly gifted performers can still make everyone who’s come out for them feel like they were singled out. It’s an incredible property of going to see a live show, feeling as though, big venue or small, you’re a member of something bigger than you, of an entity called an audience that the performer can electrify with just a few notes.

And, though, I won’t be catching Hawk Rock Theatre’s Beowulf performance (unless it finds its way to Youtube after the fact), after more than a year of preparations, I’m sure it’ll be a show brimming with artistic energy and presence.

If you’re going to be in the Brewster/Southeast area of New York state between November 4 and November 6, you should definitely go and see how this take on Beowulf plays out.

When it comes to performances which do you prefer: A live show or something recorded? Why?

A marathon inspired by Beowulf?

Ben de Rivaz and Tom Burton train for the Breca Wanaka SwimRun, inspired by Beowulf.

Breca Wanaka SwimRun race organiser Ben de Rivaz, of the UK, right, trains with friend Tom Burton in Lake Wanaka in front of Ruby Island. Image from http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/85042363/new-multisport-concept-launches-in-wanaka-in-march

Earlier in this blog I found a connection between Beowulf and baseball. That connection of the ancient poem to modern sport was pretty unexpected. The latest connection between Beowulf and sports is much clearer, but no less surprising.

This connection is the sport known as “swimrun”. You can read all about an English enthusiast’s setting up a new course in Australia, and get a quick summary of the sport here.

With its start in Sweden, and a slow spread throughout Europe (so far mostly England, it sounds like), “swimrun” is a marathon that involves (unsurprisingly) swimming and running. The twist comes in with the condition that competitors must wear running shoes and a wetsuit for the entire race and carry certain gear as well.

Unfortunately, this article doesn’t specify what kind of gear needs to be carried, but given the analog to Beowulf’s swimming race with Breca, it wouldn’t surprise me if the gear was something that tried to replicate the weight and feel of a sword. Interestingly, though, given the fact that Beowulf is an Old English poem about Nordic peoples, the only explicit reference to Beowulf and Breca’s swimming race associated with swimruns (as far as I know) is the name of English enthusiast Ben de Rivaz’s new course. That name is, quite simply, the Breca Wanaka SwimRun.

Though the name of his course isn’t the only reference to the swimming race in Beowulf. De Rivaz’s also requires competitors to race in pairs.

Movie, book, theatrical, and TV adaptations are one thing, but it’s great to see that Beowulf is inspiring people in other spheres as well. It just shows that fans of Beowulf have diverse interests, which suggests to me that the poem really has a broad appeal.

Though, I think Beowulf has a few advantages over other literature when it comes to broad appeal. I mean, how can you go wrong with something that’s literature but also includes magic, monsters, and even a dragon?

Along with Breca and Beowulf’s swimming race, Quidditch and other sports from books have been adapted to real life settings. If you could put together a club or league based on a game from any book which would you choose? Let me know in the comments!

Alexis Fajardo’s Kid Beowulf sees the young Geat go on heroic adventures across epics

A Quick Note: I am in no way associated with Alexis Fajardo, Kid Beowulf, or The Beat. I’m just bringing this to my readers as a bit of news from the world of Beowulf.

Beowulf adaptations continue to come out, despite the story’s generally low profile in most circles these days. The latest adaptation to come to my attention is Alexis Fajardo’s new graphic novel series Kid Beowulf. Fajardo himself describes the project in this interview with Alex Dueben from The Beat.

In his adaptation of Beowulf, Fajardo goes back to when Beowulf was a kid (as the title suggests). The young Beowulf lives through some of the events that the poem describes (like the swimming contest with Brecca), but the focus is on entirely invented adventures.

Throughout these adventures, Beowulf travels around to visit other heroes from the epic poetry of other nations. But the biggest change that Fajardo makes is in Beowulf’s relationship with Grendel. In his version, Grendel isn’t just Beowulf’s first major victory, but also related to him and growing up alongside him. So in all of kid Beowulf’s adventures, Grendel is never far behind.

But Fajardo doesn’t deviate from the source material entirely. In the interview with The Beat he explains that ultimately Beowulf and Grendel split up and meet again at Hrothgar’s hall, where their destined fight takes place. Whether or not the implications of Beowulf tearing off Grendel’s arm despite their long-term relationship are dealt with Fajardo doesn’t say. But after reading what he’s said about his project I feel like he’ll probably leave that part of the fated fight out of his series.

Beyond using the old poem to create something new, in the interview Fajardo also makes an interesting point about superheroes.

For the most part, he notes, they never have to deal with the consequences of their choices.

His passion for the epic form showing, Fajardo then says that this is where the heroes of epic poetry have one up on superheroes since these heroes do deal with their actions’ consequences. For example, Beowulf dies because he decides to fight the dragon himself, rather than letting another have the glory. And Beowulf’s death leads to the decline and destruction of the Geats, since Beowulf had made a few enemies and was no longer around to keep them at bay.

As with a lot of stuff these days, despite the cartoony look of Kid Beowulf, Fajardo’s descriptions and the sample pages included in the interview make it sound like it’s going to deal with complex issues. What’s more, I think it’s fair to say that these issues will be dealt with in a way that acknowledges their nuances.

If you’re a comics/graphic novels fan, curious to see how one artist thinks Beowulf may’ve been as a kid, or just want to see how this adaptation of Beowulf goes, the first book of Alexis Fajardo’s Kid Beowulf is out now and can be found at Fajardo’s website.

How do you feel about adaptations that focus on characters’ lives before the events that made them famous like Fajardo’s Kid Beowulf? Leave your thoughts in the comments!