The Internet was abuzz with news of Dev Patel playing Sir Gawain (King Arthur’s nephew) in A24’s The Green Knight on Thursday, after the company released the first trailer for the forthcoming film. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out; the story of Gawain and the Green Knight is an excellent, ghastly tale, and the film looks fantastic.
Since the movie doesn’t hit theaters until this summer, though, you may find yourself wanting something to hold you over until you can get your tickets. Never fret; there are quite a few renditions of Gawain’s tale, but one of the best takes is the webcomic by cartoonist Emily Cheeseman. Based entirely on the 14th century Middle English poem by an anonymous writer, Cheeseman’s Gawain and the Green Knight adapts the language for a modern audience and lays out the story across 56 pages of comics panels.
Here’s the full synopsis:
It is New Year’s Day at King Arthur’s court, and a mysterious knight in green arrives at the holiday feast with a peculiar demand. He challenges anyone present to strike a blow against him with his fearsome great axe – but on the condition that, in one year’s time, he may deliver the same blow in return.
Sir Gawain, a knight of the Round Table, accepts the Green Knight’s challenge. His honor tested, his loyalty questioned, Gawain leaves Camelot in search of a place called the Green Chapel to keep his end of the Green Knight’s bargain.
While the dialogue is great, Cheeseman’s art is the true star of this webcomic. She employs shadow, perspective, and complementary color palettes to navigate each moment, with characters communicating mostly through facial expressions and body language. Each panel feels like it could exist as its own piece of art, framed in a gallery or put on display at an Arthurian exhibit. Cheeseman has an aptitude for fantasy, which really shines in this comic.
It’s also obvious that she’s very familiar with the Gawain story, and though the comic feels far more fleshed out than the poem, there aren’t many embellishments. Cheeseman simply presents the story in a stunning visual format that’s easy to read and even easier to fall in love with.