Blood & Valour: The legend of Sir Bevis of Hampton, is a British medieval mythology story that follows one man's journey into adulthood. It's not as well-known as some stories like King Arthur and other legends, but that could be something to do with the hero of the story leaving English shores. Other home grown legends tend to stay domestically which makes their story easy to pass through the generations. This graphic novel aims to address this by resurrecting Sir Bevis and his adventures, and it's all thanks to the Eastleigh Borough Councils 'Digital arts Programme Eastleigh' - a Tec Hub project that aims to support new talent and emerging businesses working with digital arts to explore inspirational and exciting new ways to present work.
Blood & Valour is a collected book that contains an introductory four-part story that follows the ten-year-old Bevis, whose father Sir Guy, the Earl of Hampton, is murdered in a plot hatched by his duplicitous mother, the King of Scotland’s daughter, and her lover Lord Conrad, brother to the Emperor of Germany. He not only loses his home, but his heritage, and so Bevis swears vengeance for his murdered father and flees into exile where he bides his time, learning the skills he will require to return home and claim his birth right.
The imagery is created by a combination of traditional art and digital imagery that utilised real-life performers to bring key characters to life on the page which allows for a different way of delivering the story. The illustrations are kept simple, focusing on what is important to tell the story cleanly. The script is very on point to match the artwork. Together it combines to give you the sense of the time – you are after all going back to medieval England where it's brutal in its violence and the threat of being beheaded or bludgeoned to death are the daily ways of life. Makes you glad that this is history.
The book might be rough around the edges for some, with the digital photography pages looking a bit out of place and not to everyone's liking, but it's a bold and exciting project that leaves you looking forward to further volumes of the story. English history is always great to see and read about and offers something different to superheroes – it's a retelling of real life in a world that is foreign to us because of how much everything has changes since those times.
Rating wise, Blood & Valour: The legend of Sir Bevis of Hampton, gets a solid 4 out of 5. What's more though is the potential that this book gives. Future volumes could easily push for a higher score.