The Crude Knight
Ryan Little describes his latest comic as “King Arthur + Mad Max + A Dash of There Will Be Blood.” Those fantastic works of fiction have probably never been used together in the same sentence, but when it comes to The Crude Knight, it kind of makes sense.
The Crude Knight is a five-issue miniseries that reimagines the classic tale of King Arthur with a modern twist. Excalibur appears in an oil field, an evil magic possesses a worker, and suddenly the heir to the oil baron’s throne needs to do some heroics. Unfortunately, that hero appears to be a complacent slacker who is far from heroic.
Making The Comic
The Crude Knight will be Ryan Little’s fourth series. This time, he is joined by artist Yusuf Idris, colorist Nick Warner, and letter Nikki Powers. After putting together the script, art, and pages, Little and Company went to Kickstarter for the opportunity to produce the comic for distribution. We got a chance to discuss the process with Little. “I’ve been in indie comics for 5 years now. The Crude Knight is my fourth series and seventh Kickstarter campaign,” Little said. “Kickstarter and a truly glorious indie comics community has let me add my voice to the chorus and pump out series that excite me.”
Like most young children, Little learned about King Arthur through popular culture. As he grew older, he realized that there was much more to the stories than he was lead to believe. “Camelot was this sort of dour place locked into a morbid destiny that ended in fire and betrayal. I wanted to do something that took the characters and pitted them directly against that fate and my own false notions.” After some research, inspiration hit him. “I had no idea just how much breath there was to the mythos until I really started diving in. That process turned out to be what the concept really needed. It was a well of visuals and iconography deeper than the oil reserves in my book that made it clear what beats I had to hit. I read a lot about Avalon, which Camelot was built on top of, and how it was more of an ethereal construct than some picturesque meadow in England somewhere. That ultimately became the crux of the story that I built The Crude Knight around.”
The Hero’s Journey
At its heart, The Crude Knight seems to be a journey about redemption and triumph. Its protagonist appears to be pretty deadbeat, with people around him constantly telling him that he can better. Jonathan appears to lack the motivation to improve himself and is content with being comfortable. Of course, all of that comfort leaves rather quickly with the appearance of Excalibur. Usually, characters like Jonathan have no place in Avalon. Little thinks differently: “The Knights of Camelot are these insane, undying and, more importantly, unyielding warriors that will give their all to make the most of their small window of hope to rebuild their empire,” Little said. Jonathan is someone that’s rested on his laurels. It is a difficult and painful thing to challenge yourself and push your boundaries. I think pitting him against such an unfathomable and intense opponent is a way to strip away all the constructs and notions he’s built about himself and have a hard look at who he is on the inside.”
Little likes rooting for the underdog. He understands that while relentless is a needed trait, it can also lead to one’s downfall. Jonathan is going to need just the right amount of relentlessness to succeed in his journey. It feels like The Crude Knight is as much about Jonathan’s redemption as it is Avalon.
The creative team has finished the first two issues of the series, and all that’s left is to hit the printers. “All kinds of crazy things can delay a comic,” Little says. “That’s why I go ahead and make the book to ensure backers can expect a timely delivery for their purchase. I then have the books printed domestically in the United States to ensure I maintain the deadlines I set for the delivery.”
It looks like there will be a lot of printing because The Crude Knight has already been successfully backed. In fact, the book has over $2,000 in support, more than doubling the original $1,000 goal. Now the team is working on enhancing the experience. “Thanks to the huge support we’ve gotten so far, we’ve upped our initial 24-page first issue to a 42-page extended issue. One more stretch goal will allow me to release the first 2 issues in their entirety at once.” Little’s ambition doesn’t stop there. “No one likes reading a first issue that just gives you a taste of the road ahead. We’re on the road to giving people a big ‘ol 50-page introduction to The Crude Knight that comes at no extra cost to backers.”
It appears that Little’s latest comic book endeavor will be the most successful one to date. So who inspired him to create the way he does? Which creators have influenced him the most? “Man there are so many,” Little ponders. “Grant Morrison, Jeff Lemire, Geoff Johns, Masahi Kishimoto, just to name a few. The world of comics is such a massive visual and imaginative frontier. We’re in an age of comic book movies, but comic books themselves remain such an awesome incubator for wildly imaginative material.”
Before wrapping up our discussion, Little wanted to make sure that readers understood that there are many creators out there like himself. “Try indie comics. Seriously. I had no idea how much material there was outside the larger publishers and comic store shelves until I started making independent comics. We have no rules, no edicts, and live and die by each and every issue we make. I think you’ll be surprised with the sincerity and quality behind an indie book.”
You can visit The Crude Knight‘s Kickstarter page to support the campaign or preview the first few pages of the series. The Kickstarter campaign will continue through September 20th.