Local artist transforms ancient tale into graphic novel

The tale of Beowulf is an undertaking to behold. Even though the story has been told countless times, local newspaper cartoonist and graphic novelist Alexis Fajardo has successfully created a new adventure based on the history of Beowulf, but not in the classical sense. Fajardo has taken the violent nature of the tale and turned it into a children’s version called “Kid Beowulf.”
Fajardo talked to a crowd of students in Newman auditorium about his book and unusual techniques on Oct. 10 in a lecture titled “Comics and Classics: art, literature, and pop-culture.
“Kid Beowulf” focuses on two young brothers named Beowulf and Grendel who embark on adventures that take them far off places around the world. Each story surrounding Beowulf’s childhood presents historical significances from ancient figures that bring the legend of Beowulf to life.
Fajardo has worked on this graphic novel series for the better part of his life.  “Kid Beowulf started as a mini-comic about 10 years ago. It was just a side-project I was doing as I tried to get my comic strip ‘Plato’s Republic’ syndicated,” Fajardo said. “The story continued to grow and grow until it turned into a full blown creation.”
“Kid Beowolf” is intended to be a 12-part series each containing a three-block set with the first two books already released. “There are roughly 12 ‘Kid Beowulf’ books planned, each averaging 200 pages,” Fajardo said.
The first two books are titled “Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath” and “Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland.” The third novel, “Kid Beowulf vs. El Cid” is currently in the works and is set for release next spring.
“Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland” is based on a story of King Charlamagne and a group of historic knights led by a hero named Roland.  Each novel travels to at least one country. “Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath” is based in Denmark and Sweden with the second and third books taking place in France and Spain.
Most of the story ideas come from international ancient poems that help Fajardo keep his ideas fresh and consistent. “The source material! Great epic poems like The Odyssey, Gilgamesh and others are what inspires me the most,” Fajardo said. He  also wishes to venture into areas that aren’t quite as well known as Beowulf to help educate people.
The next books in the series will continue the journey of Beowulf and Grendel as they travel to the far reaches of Europe and Asia.
Fajardo takes great pride in his work, creating each book from the ground up.  He has a great love for history and does a lot of research.
“Simply put, history happened. All of these stories, though fanciful, are still rooted in places that exist,” Fajardo said. “If I wanted to go see Beowulf’s homeland, I can go to Sweden and get a sense of it.”
Though the series is geared to children he wants both children and adults to learn something form the experience of reading.
Fajardo’s books have all the characteristics of something that can be translated into a cartoon or movie. “I’m a big fan and really enjoy classic 2D animation,” Fajardo said. “I try to bring some of that movement into my work and would be open to the idea of doing animated movies; but the story has got to be right and so does the application. These days everybody wants something done in CG or motion capture and that’s less interesting to me than traditional 2D.”
Fajardo would like to stick to his origins and keep going with the classic style. He’d rather stay with historical-based ideas rather than adventure into the realms of superheroes and villains.
“I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics but I haven’t kept up with them,” Fajardo said. “My art style isn’t of the superhero genre and even so, it comes down to the story for me; superheroes don’t evolve and their actions have no consequences, the risks they take are superficial.”