While fairytales are eternal, passed down for thousands of years, the popular notion is that these classic fables are just for kids. Well, not anymore. Artist and writer Nick Percival has created a dark, steampunk wonderland: Legends: The Enchanted, an upcoming graphic novel from Radical Publishing. However, you can get a sneak peek of this epic with issue #0, out January 27, with a cover price of just $1 ($0.80 if you pre-order from TFAW.com now). Read on to learn more about Percival’s vision and to get a glimpse of his haunting, twisted world!
TFAW.com: Hi Nick, thanks for talking with us.
Nick Percival: No problem–thanks for the opportunity.
NP: The book is set in a violent and decayed creature-infested world where strange technology, nature, and dark magic are in constant conflict. The story runs with the premise that many of the classic characters from folklore and fairytales have always existed. Known as the Enchanted, these people are now well into adulthood.
Feared and loathed by many, they spend their fractured existence as outlaws, vigilantes, bounty hunters and such, living their lives independently in an increasingly hostile world. The majority of these Enchanted have a mystic protective “charm” that allows them to sustain vast amounts of deadly physical damage yet still fully recover–they are virtually impossible to kill.
When the mutilated body of Pinocchio, (a huge supernatural “warrior man” made from bionics and wood) is discovered, they realize something or someone has found a way to break their charm and is now after them.
I really wanted the book to be a hard-as-nails, urban action-fantasy tale starting with a murder mystery and escalating into an ongoing battle for the very survival of the whole Enchanted.
TFAW.com: What inspired you to create this graphic novel?
NP: Well, I’ve always been a massive fan of traditional folklore, and I originally came up with the story late 2002, all the time since then creating prototype character paintings and fleshing out the world and storyline as I worked on other projects. I loved how these characters’ origins and classic tales are dripping with dark subtext, violence, horror, dubious moral themes and bizarre conclusions.
Visually, it’s a genre that I’ve wanted to explore and felt I could bring a fresh spin on these well-known characters, giving them a gritty edge and emphasizing the conflicts they have between each other. They don’t all get on, and the idea of an action tale, set in this weird world along with the themes of warped technology and magic, are what inspired me to finally get stuck in and fully commit to the project.
As Radical became involved later down the line, we were looking at various formats for the story and decided an original graphic novel would be best, but with a preview issue #0 first, so people can get a good idea of what it’s all about and see the style of the book, the characters, and their world.
TFAW.com: What differentiates Legends from other series that center on similar subject matter, like Fables?
NP: It’s a good question, and one I’m sure will constantly come up. To be honest with you, I’ve never actually read Fables. Obviously, I’m aware of the series, and from what I have seen in various comic book mags and websites, on a purely visual level at least, Legends is massively different. I’m fully painting the whole story with very detailed artwork–my background is in painted comic books and cover artwork (2000 AD, Judge Dredd, Slaine, Marvel’s Dead of Night, etc.), and I also worked as a computer animation director for video games and TV, so I wanted to create a unique high-end slick look to Legends with the artwork, very cinematic in lighting but also taking advantage of what is unique to the comic book medium with certain storytelling devices, and so on.
TFAW.com: Why did you choose a steampunk look for this book?
NP: There are certain steampunk elements to the look but mainly an urban post-apocalyptic 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. One of my favorite locations is the Bionic Woodlands where Red Hood lives with her daughter. It’s a weird mix of twisted bio-mechanical trees and bizarre organic vines and living foliage–a very harsh-looking place.
TFAW.com: What are some of your favorite characters in this book?
NP: Wow. Probably too many to mention. The cast ranges from my version of Rapunzel, who can control her long unbreakable hair to strangle her enemies and in some cases rip their damn heads off. Hansel and Gretel are Paranormal Exterminators, Jack the Giantkiller is a kind of hero for hire–only works at dispatching Ogres, etc. for the right price. He swallows Magic Beans that each give him different powers for a limited amount of time. He’s a bit of a rogue and rides a souped-up motorcycle that uses Giant’s blood for fuel, so he’s quite cool. Humpty Dumpty is a crime gang lord who runs a seedy nightclub. We have the wolf creature hunter, Red Hood, whose relationship with her young daughter is a major, major part of the story.
TFAW.com: Which aspects of Legends do you think will surprise readers the most?
NP: I don’t think it looks like any other comic book on the market, so I’m quite pleased about that and I think readers will be pleasantly surprised at the take on these classic fairytale characters we’re all familiar with. I felt there was a lot of room to take the characters and really go to the extremes of what they could be, using their well-known back stories as great source material and weave some of that into the big plot of Legends but twisting those tales, ripping them apart and then stitching them back together again with a rusty needle and an added dose of visual steroids.
TFAW.com: What are some of the major storylines you’ll pursue?
NP: We have the threat to the Enchanted, and the fact that they realize they can now be killed, which is obviously a very big deal for them and the result in that they have to work together for the first time as team, resolving any past conflicts and disputes they have. We’ll also see the larger picture and structure of their world and how it changes as a result of what is happening around them. Add to that a healthy mix of punk-rock Giants, twisted science, dark magic, big guns, cool motorcycles, super-powered magic beans, trolls, love, violence, tragedy, chainsaws, wild nature, booze, horror, telepathy, werewolves, strange nightclubs, beanstalks, cyber-witches, dumb monsters, explosions and bio-mechanical fairies. Hopefully, it’s like no fairytale you’ve ever seen.
TFAW.com: What will readers see in the #0 issue?
NP: It basically amounts to what would be the first chapter. We see the murder of Pinocchio and will be introduced to about two thirds of the cast. It also gives you a good look at the world they inhabit and the dangers they face. I’m hoping folks will at least give it a shot (hey, it’s only a buck!) and feel excited and intrigued enough to then pick up the graphic novel to get the full story.
TFAW.com: Is this a stand-alone graphic novel, or do you anticipate telling more Legends stories in the future?
NP: The graphic novel is a complete story, but it sets the scene for many future tales, which I’ve started to map out. Relationships change, and not every character makes it to the end of the book, while some evil elements still remain, so there are areas that would be ready for a sequel and more further down the line.
TFAW.com: Where does Legends fit into your body of work?
NP: I started the book while I was still working on various comic book covers, collectible card artwork, and film concept and production art, but now that I’m in the later stages of the project, I’m working on it full time to get it finished. It’s definitely the best body of work I’ve done and the first thing I’ve solely created, written, and illustrated, which is great.
TFAW.com: What other projects are you excited about right now?
NP: After Legends, I’m developing a project with a very established Hollywood screenwriter and will see where that leads, as well as dabbling in another original project I’ve got cooking, and–hopefully, if all does well–more Legends material. I’ll probably continue with cover work and film stuff alongside that, but if I did return to non-creator-owned comics, I have a cool idea for a very dark, horror-themed Hulk story, so who knows . . . ?
TFAW.com: Thanks again!
What do you think about incorporating steampunk, fairytales, and comics? Are you curious enough to check out Legends: The Enchanted #0? Post your comments and opinions below!