Matt Gibbs & Bevis Musson
Published by Improper Books
More information can be found on the Improper Books website
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 choose to follow 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 came to 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 by 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.
I believe Knight & Dragon is aimed at a younger audience and I have no doubt that 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 adults who, I am sure, would find it just as fun and entertaining.
My only 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 throughout the book, jumping 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 coming 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!