Get ready for a new journey into the world of fairy tales and fables. In 2010, Nick Percival and Radical Comics take the beloved fairy tale characters of old and thrust them into a gothic, steampunk world in "Legends: The Enchanted." The publisher will release a special $1.00 preview issue in January, followed by the full graphic novel in April. According to Percival, the graphic novel centers characters known only as The Enchanted - harsh, adult versions of the characters we know and love.
"The Enchanted are looked upon with fear and distrust by normal everyday folk and despised by their dark counterparts, known as The Wicked," says Percival. "Most of the Enchanted operate as vigilantes, outlaws, bounty hunters and so on - trying to find their place and purpose in a land that is growing increasingly hostile towards them. Armed with a hard attitude, unique abilities and customized weaponry, the Enchanted's world is shattered when they discover that some unknown enemy has found a way to break through their mystic immortality and begins slaughtering them one by one beginning with the killing of the half bionic/half wooden warrior, Pinocchio."
CBR News recently spoke at length with Nick Percival about his take on the characters in "Legends: The Enchanted," what sets the story apart from the other adaptations of fairy tales in the comics world, and how his previous work in comics all add up to one amazing view on the fairy tale tradition.
CBR News: Tell us about the main characters of "Legends: The Enchanted," Nick. Who are they, and how do they differ from the versions we know and love?
Nick Percival: We've got Red Hood, who lives with her daughter in a very dangerous place known as the Bionic Woodlands - this area is overgrown with spiked bio-mechanical trees and living, organic plant life, populated by mutated wolf creatures. Basically, she just wants to be left alone and raise her child, but the murder of Pinocchio and the kidnapping of her daughter force her to reluctantly seek out help from other Enchanted.
Jack the Giantkiller pretty much just looks out for himself. He's sly, likes to drink and burns around on a beast of motorcycle that uses Giant's blood as fuel. Jack acts as a kind of "creature killer for hire." For the right price, he'll sort out any towns terrorized by Ogre problems, which he usually solves by popping one of his "magic beans" that grant him cool powers for a limited amount of time as he starts cracking heads together.
Filling out the rest of the cast are psychic siblings, Hansel and Gretel (Paranormal Exterminators), Goldilox and Bear, her nine-foot half man/half bear boyfriend. They have a "rob the rich to give to the poor" type quest, which involves them coming up against the crime boss, Humpty Dumpty and the Billy Goats Gruff Biker Gang - it doesn't end quietly.
Amongst these, we've got cameos from Rapunzel, a soldier with unbreakable hair that she uses to attack her enemies, Miss Muffet, Rumpelstiltskin, Pied Piper, Jack Nimble and many others all depicted in the same gritty style with attitudes to match in a world filled with goth-type giants, vampire fairies, pissed off trolls, demon street gangs, and all manner of unsavory folk.
Do you have a favorite fairy tale or fable?
I have a lot of versions of the classic tales that the Brothers Grimm collected together, some great old German editions as well. I've also been heavily into Hans Christian Andersen's work, so there are way too many to choose from. But a lot of the ancient Russian folklore is fascinating, and there are some themes in that material that I'm thinking about including in later stories for "Legends: The Enchanted."
In comics, there are a number of fairy tale adaptations, including the popular series "Fables" and "Grimm Fairy Tales." What sets "Legends: The Enchanted" apart from these other titles?
In all honesty, I've never read "Fables" or any of the other books, but from what I do know about them, "Legends: The Enchanted," certainly on a visual level, is vastly different in terms of the world and the look and feel of the project.
The series has an urban, post-apocalyptic, decayed feel, with nature now starting to reclaim some of the environments. So we get ruined cities, weird science labs, strange vehicles and places with a mix of heavy-duty industrial and gothic influences.
I think "Legends" looks very different from what's normally seen in comics, with the style of the characters and creatures - even the average citizens have a weird look about them. So I've put a lot of thought into that, and with all the artwork being fully painted, it's allowed me to add a lot of cinematic touches with lighting and texture.
Storywise, there's an ongoing feeling of dread as the situation for the characters gets more extreme and dangerous. Not everyone makes it out of this alive, so a lot of the events do have significant consequences for the Enchanted, and big changes take place in their world, which is something I'd like to explore further down the line.
What is it about "Legends" that you feel should get fans of both comic books and fairy tales excited about the concept?
I think, when you look at how many interpretations of classic icons such as Frankenstein and Dracula that ther've been, these fairytale characters are similar icons, with origins so richly filled with potential that there's always room for another unique take on it. My background is in computer graphics and fully painted comics - I did a lot of work for 2000AD, working on "Judge Dredd" and "Slaine," as well as Marvel's "Dead of Night" series, so I wanted to bring a highly-detailed, hyper-real look to the art that I think fans of comic books will really respond to. It's really mixing all these elements, from the artwork through to the twisted take on the source material, that I hope will make for an exacting new series. In a nutshell, it's a gritty, hard-edged story, filled to the brim with twisted science, warped magic, big guns, cool motorcycles, super-powered magic beans, trolls, love, violence, tragedy, chainsaws, wild nature, booze, horror, telepathy, wolfcreatures, strange nightclubs, beanstalks, cyber-witches, dumb monsters, dark humor, and bio-mechanical killer fairies. Hopefully, like no fairy tale you've ever seen.
With the debut of your comic coming up quickly, what is it that has you the most excited about the public discovering "Legends" for the first time?
Just finally getting it out for folks to see. I originally developed the storyline, along with original character designs and environmental artwork, back in 2003. I was always expanding the concept, on and off between other work projects, so it's great to be able to see an end in sight and get the material out there.
As a creator, what was your greatest challenge when it came to developing and creating "Legends?"
Basically, trying to maintain the high standards I wanted for the book. I'm a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist, and that makes it always difficult to stop tinkering and tweaking art pages, script, etc. At some point you just have to move forward, and I think I've finally managed to do that - otherwise I'd never finish the thing! It's been tough juggling a lot of other projects at the same time, but at the moment, I'm working full time on the book to get it completed.
I really hope people give it a shot and check it out. The "Legends: The Enchanted" #0 preview comic gives readers a great chance to see the characters in their unique world and experience the first chapter of the story that will hopefully make them want to pick up the full graphic novel. I hope it all works out, since I have a number of ways to continue and develop the Legends universe, and it'd be great to make that happen.