Bayeux: Graphic Novel Review
Sometimes, to find a truly epic and enduring tale, we need only look to the past. Tyler Button’s Bayeux takes one of the most epic battles in European history and renders it (for the second time) into a full story. The story of the fight for the English crown in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings is already rendered in one of the most celebrated pieces of sequential art in history; the Bayeux Tapestry. Now, however, the story comes to life again with an understanding so profound it could even be called reverence.
Bickering Boys, battles, and Bayeux
Bayeux recounts the historic events surrounding the Battle of Hastings and eventual Norman conquest of England (sorry, spoiler alert…it did happen in 1066 though). The fight for the English crown between Harald Hadrada, Harold Godwinson, and William I is a classic “three men enter, one man leaves” epic. Bayeux gives a thorough yet accessible account of a politically complex history that may well be uncommon knowledge to some readers. Within, Button’s writing is at once entertaining and informative. In general, I love narrative text boxes, but here they really help to weave together the threads of the story. Although it may seem a small detail, their inclusion adds depth to the air of political scheming and intrigue, like you are being let in on secrets of the crown. Clever stuff, that.
Black gutters throughout and the classic “thwips” and “clunks” of a good Medieval battle sit comfortably on and around simple, effective art. Although our characters are centuries old, they are brought back to life in a modern way. Clean lines and the delicate balance of realism with artistic aesthetic create an elegant and easy to read graphic novel. It is clear and goes without saying that there is a huge amount of skill in making something look so easy. There is something special about seeing such historically important moments rendered on a comic book page – makes me feel a lot of emotions, and they are all good ones.
Not so horrible history
Bayeux is a thoroughly and loving researched piece of work. For instance, Tyler’s piece on his six year process to bring this project to life fills you with such a deep admiration it makes it impossible not to love Bayeux. This is, without doubt, a true passion project. If any teachers are reading this, then I implore you – buy this graphic novel. Buy all of Tapestry’s titles. Buy them all and put them on your classroom shelves. Your students will thank you, and it is way cheaper than a trip to France. If you aren’t a teacher, and are just another person like me who loves history? Read it. I promise, you’ll not regret it.