Author: Matt Gibbs
Illustrator: Bevis Musson
First published by Improper Books in 2013
Review by Miriam Atkinson
Knight & Dragon is part of a new breed of books called ‘silent comics’. Silent comics differ from their graphic novel counterparts in one key way – they do not include either dialogue or any accompanying sound effects. Instead they remain silent. However not content with telling one story solely in pictures, Matt Gibbs and Bevis Musson decided they would tell six stories each from a different character’s point of view. Readers can chose to follow either: the dragon, the knight, the maiden, the village chief, the farmhand, or the horse on their journey through the classic tale of a knight rescuing a maiden from a dragon. Yet clearly deciding that this project was not yet complicated enough, Gibbs and Musson have incorporated three separate endings and multiple plotlines into the book that change depending on which character you have chosen to follow.
Slightly apprehensive when starting this literary adventure I can make only one conclusion: it actually works!
I was easily able to follow the path of my chosen character and the slight alterations in each storyline created some enjoyable twists in the tale. I was also very impressed how Gibbs and Musson could use the same image multiple times yet have it mean something different with each re-telling. For example with my attention focused on the knight’s arrival I did not notice the jealous farmhand, the unimpressed maiden, or the completely uninterested horse until I came to follow their paths.
Knight & Dragon is aimed at a younger audience and I have no doubt they would spend hours at a time tirelessly combing through the charmingly illustrated pages of this book. However given the unique nature of the book I feel it would also appeal to older readers whom I am sure would find it just as fun and entertaining.
My only slight criticism is that because the book cannot be read chronologically cover-to-cover, the reader is constantly forced to flip backwards and forwards through the pages. While Knight & Dragon starts on page 1 and ends on page…well it’s either 23, 25, or 27 depending on which path you have chosen, the middle of the stories have been deliberately jumbled up. This means the reader is constantly being sent back and forth, back and forth throughout the book as you jump from page 21 to page 2 to page 14. While most likely appealing to younger readers, I became tired by the endless page turning. For readers like me I would suggest only following one or two characters at a time and then come back to the other characters later. However if anyone feels up to a six-journey marathon I encourage them to go for it and enjoy!
*This review was originally published in the online magazine Cuckoo Review in September 2015*