I probably should confess that the definitive Robin Hood story for me involves a fox and a singing rooster.
Sorry, but the 1970s Disney movie remains my all-time favorite Disney cartoon, and even though I’ve seen the Kevin Costner Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (because I think we were all required to see that at one point or another) and the Mel Brooks parody Robin Hood: Men in Tights, I never really latched on to a silver screen representation of the famous resident of Sherwood Forest. Likewise with the prose versions. Years ago, I bought a “Tales of Robin Hood” book that was in one of those classics editions you get at Barnes & Noble because I thought my kid might like to hear or read such stories. Apparently, an editor decided not to tweak some anti-Semitic language, so we off-loaded the book only a chapter in.
All this is to say that this is probably the first time I’ve read a recount of Robin Hood’s story in a non-talking animal form. Written by Valarie Jones with layouts by Tim Truman and watercolor finishes by Christopher Schenck, Robin Hood is a three-issue miniseries published by Eclipse in 1991. The company was still a going concern at this time and would be around for about couple more years, being done in by a number of factors in the market.
By this point in 1991, Tim Truman was a recognizable name. He’d co-created Grim Jack for First Comics (first appearing in Starslayer #10, which is the only issue of that title I don’t own) and had reworked Hawkman in the Hawkworld minseries for DC. Having him on this book, even if it was for layouts, would have piqued my curiosity in 1991 and was a draw when I found all three issues in a cheap bin sale at my LCS a few years ago.
Now, these comics don’t technically qualify for my “unread” pile because I’d read them when I bought them. But I am trying to work my way through a pile of independent books that I’m on the fence on–most of them are miniseries of recent vintage and I don’t see myself returning to them, but want to give them one more chance. Robin Hood was among that pile and since it’s #FantasyComicsMonth and I think Robin Hood would qualify for that, I decided to give it a try.
First of all, the book is beautifully illustrated. The watercolor finishes on Truman’s layouts are gorgeous. Second, the story is solid. We get all of the famous Robin Hood scenes and we also see well-developed characters in Robin, Maid Marian, and King Richard. In fact, there’s a thread of “common man hero fights against oppressive monarchy” and “woman stands up for herself” throughout this story which makes it hold up very well today. I don’t know if a certain segement of the population would like a story about someone who pushes back against the privilege of the rich that also has feminist elements, and if they didn’t, then I’d like it even more.
Really, though, unlike some of the Classics Illustrated stories (which, yes, were one issue and this is three), this gives depth to it characters and a lot more richness to the tale than we’re used to. I imagine it’s also staying pretty close to its source material. There’s all sorts of adventure, treachery, and romance, and for the money I paid it was well worth it.
I’ll be holding onto this one in the hopes that Tim Truman makes another Baltimore appearance in the future and I can get them all signed, and maybe even ask him about it for my show. If you see these around, I recommend grabbing them.
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