I was not in the mood for trying to write about Paradise Lost last night, so I thought I’d take a Milton break and read something else on my shelf. After I finished I Kill Giants (read my thoughts) two weeks ago, I’d felt a strange compulsion to go check out some more graphic novels. It’s only strange because I have never felt that before! Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood caught my attention from the YA shelf at the library, and last night was the perfect time for a little folkloric fun.
I’ve been meaning to read the Robin Hood story, and this one was as good as any. Written by Tony Lee and illustrated by Sam Hart and Artur Fujita, Outlaw captures many facets of the tradition. As in most traditions, Robin is the Earl of Loxley, returning home from the crusades; John Little was the previous leader of the outlaws; Marian is the love interest who helps the outlaws; the outlaws steal from the rich to give to the poor; and King John attempts to usurp the throne from King Richard. It all works out well in the end.
Because I’m familiar with the story, I wasn’t reading this so much for the familiar but to see what they did differently. Reading as a graphic novel was the most interesting aspect. I enjoyed Sam Hart and Artur Fujuita’s illustrations. They were full-color and detailed, which was both good and bad. I liked the gorgeous sweeping full-page illustrations, but as I read the smaller panels, each detailed bearded man blended with the next and I struggled to tell them apart. However, I was reading it quickly. (Visit the Amazon Page and click “Look inside” to see samples of the illustrations.)
I liked the author’s interesting story arch. Robin wants to revenge his father’s death, and he wants to prove himself as “that good.” His father had been unable to save a friend who’d been sent to the gallows, and Robin Hood is determined to never let that happen. Robin’s story comes full circle by the end.
I liked reading this version of the legend, and I also enjoyed the note at the end of the book (by Allen W. Wright, Robin Hood expert) about how the legend has evolved. There are so many sources for this story, and what “really happened” could have been far different from all of them, since it’s evolved over the past millennia.Being a classics geek, I was most interested to hear that Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe has Robin Hood as a supporting character.I am not completely finished with Robin Hood. Outlaw was certainly a fun perspective on the legend.
What folkloric legends are you fascinated with?
Do you have a favorite Robin Hood retelling or movie?