Saturday, April 20, 2013


(A graphic novel.)
Script by Paul Storrie
Art by Rob Davis
Letters by Michael Larson
Redbud Studio
96 black and white pages

Thanks to modern technology, we live in an age where unfulfilled dreams of the past have a new chance of being realized by creators.  Such is this case with this marvelous graphic novel which first saw the light of day several decades ago as a four issue mini series from Caliber Press.  In his introduction, writer Paul Storrie, relates the start and go problems the series had and how everyone involved was frustrated that it didn’t materialize as well as they had all hoped.  A series of accidents forced a change of art teams and in the end, though completed, the project left the team unsatisfied.

And so for over twenty years Storrie lived with an itch he just couldn’t scratch; until print-on-demand arrived on the scene.  He slowly began to realize it just might be possible to redo the book.  But this time collected as a one-shot graphic novel and so approached artist Rob Davis with the idea.  Davis agreed to help out. Over the past five years Davis worked meticulously from old original art or, when such was not available, drawing entire new pages all to make the book look and read as it was always intended.  Storrie credits him with doing the “heavy-lifting” and never giving up on the task.  This reader is damn glad he didn’t.

The tale takes place many years after both Robin and his Maid Marian have passed away as has King Richard.  Now John sits on the throne of England.  Unlike his brother, John he is a cruel and petty despot and inflicts burdensome taxes on the people that will forever keep them in abject poverty.  When the new Sheriff of Nothingham, on orders from John, attempts to hang the former outlaw, John Little, at a May Day celebration, a mysterious archer appears to save the old freedom fighter and soon word through the greenwoods spreads that the “ghost” of Robin Hood has returned.

In truth it is Robin and Marian’s only child, the lovely Robyn who born in a convent and then sent to live with her uncle, Will Scarlett, after Marian death.  She has returned to Sherwood to take up her father’s cause, to reassemble those of his loyal men who remain, ala Little John and Friar Tuck and to add a few new fighters such as Little John’s boisterous son, Thom Little.  Storrie’s fiction is set against a historically authentic background which makes it all the more entertaining.  The politics of the time play a part throughout the action as does a very complex mystery surrounding the villain responsible for Robin and Marian’s destruction.  He brings vibrant life to old and new characters and gives a timeless legend a fresh infusion of action adventure that made this a pleasure to read.

Whereas the art by Rob Davis is equally up to task of capturing these beloved heroes.  Davis’s research in clothing and armament is impeccable and his deft hand at portraying facial emotions is second to none in the graphic world.  In fact there is a sweeping, grandiose feel to his layouts that is reminiscent of the great Hal Foster’s work on Prince Valiant.  It is all too clear Davis has a true fondness for this classic and he has returned to it on several occasions providing gorgeous interior illustrations for Airship 27 Productions’ Robin Hood pulp book series.

We have only one critique and it is clear that this singular sour note was beyond the control of the creators.  Upon finishing “Robyn of Sherwood,” several major plot lines were left unfinished, including Robyn’s quest to avenge herself on the culprit responsible for her parent’s murders.  It is obvious those threads were to have been addressed in future volumes had the series continued at Caliber.  Now that it has been reborn in this stylish new format, maybe some day Misters Storrie and Davis will find their way back to Sherwood Forest and the beautiful Robyn to spin those untold escapades.  As we said at the start of this review, in this day and age, anything is possible.

Finally, self-published independent gems like “Robyn of Sherwood,” can only be obtained in one of two ways; either from the creators if you are fortunate enough to cross their paths at a comic con or can be ordered directly from the printers at Indy Planet.
(See the link above.)


Rob Davis said...

One correction, Ron. Michael Larson is not the letterer, that was Thom Zahler. Michael Larson was the artist on the original first issue of the series and did a lot of the original design of the costumes and layouts for that first issue (which I followed in order to speed the process of re-doing the first three issues). He's considered a co-owner of the series tho' his contribution to the graphic novel is reduced. He was to have done a painted cover for the GN, but could not complete it in time for us to publish the book in order to establish trademark on the series name. Thanks for the great review!

Ron Fortier said...

Thanks for that correction here, Rob, much appreciated. Really don't ever want to slight an creator.

Ben said...

Interesting observation you make about self-published independent work. I suspect this will trigger another golden age of pulp over time. That said, this looks like a tremendous book.