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!