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Monday, January 11, 2010

Frank Bellamy's Robin Hood. The Complete Adventures. Clifford Makins (Writer), Frank Bellamy (Art). Book Palace Books (2008)

This is a collection of the Robin Hood strips from the comic Swift and it has an unusual format, in addition to the speech balloons, there is narrative text below each panel. This was designed to make it easier for the intended audience of young readers. The story is a nice variant on the classic Robin Hood story, Robin is a the son of a Saxon lord, driven from his home by the Norman Robert the Wolf to live in Sherwood Forest. Robin Hood organises his men to live in the forest and to fight the Normans and protect the poor. He assembles his band of Merry Men and fights the Sheriff of Nottingham, is the enemy of the evil Prince John and a loyal subject of good King Richard the Lionheart. Maid Marion joins his band and after the death of King Richard they continue to rob the rich, protect the poor and make merry in Sherwood Forest. These are wonderful adventure comics, a strong story with beautiful art.
Frank Bellamy is the marquee name for the collection and it is easy to see why. The art is simply beautiful, strong and vibrant. It is filled with detail that never crowds the panels, they are balanced with precision, the background detail giving depth and strength to the foreground action. The figure work is breathtaking, Robin Hood has the dash of Errol Flynn without being a copy, the action is swift and powerful without ever being brutal or savage. The faces of the cast are a joy, they portray the emotions of the moment with clarity and force, there is real feeling in the cast.
The art stands on an excellent script by Clifford Makins, the writing is concise and swift, The episodes move quickly and effectively, the story is told in a very clear and uncluttered way. It is an unencumbered adventure story, driven by the joy of action and the thrill of danger, the knowledge that your friends can be relied upon to come to your rescue. It never reads as childish, its honest dedication make it a pleasure to read as an adult. Deeply old fashioned and still thrilling.


  1. Brilliant review and how interesting to see you thought that it is "old-fashioned and still thrilling".

  2. Thank you. Honest storytelling gets old but never stale. Neither the format and style of the story are forms that could be unselfconsciously used by any writer today; they are tied to their own period. As I sank into the story I found that I had rejoined the Merry Men, slipped on the Lincoln Green and was set for adventure, still thrilling.