Chivalry is (to the best of our knowledge) the second time graphic artist Colleen Doran has adapted a Neil Gaiman story from his 1988 collection Smoke and Mirrors (the first was her 2019 adaptation of Snow, Glass, Apples). If you’re familiar with the latter, the first thing that will strike you about Chivalry is this: Doran is something of a chameleon when it comes to style, each book adopting a look and feel that suits the story.
This time around, the story is a little bit (but only a little bit) more down to earth and the reason for that, in the main, is that this story centres on a very lovely old woman called Mrs Whittaker who is a creature of routine and habit. One Thursday afternoon, rummaging through the local Oxfam, as is her wont, she stumbles across the Holy Grail, as you do, snaps it up for 50p and takes it home where it will look ever so nice on her mantel.
Before you know it, the doorbell is ringing and, wouldn’t you just know it, there’s a knight of Arthur’s roundtable politely asking if he could fulfil his quest and take it away with him. In the spirit of a good fairytale, he makes three offers to her – one of gold (she’s doing fine without gold, thank you), one of a very fine sword (again no thank you) and – well, we wouldn’t want to give too much of the story away now would we?
All told, the tale has stood up very well and Doran’s adaptation and artwork do a masterful job of balancing the prosaic (making sure she gets just the right teapot, that kind of thing) alongside the more fantastical elements of the story (flaming forges, dragons, magic apples, Phoenixes, that kind of thing).
Perhaps the best part of Chivalry, funnily enough, is the short afterword from Doran which tells the 25 year plus story of how this all came to be, wrapping up her original intentions (which would have bankrupted the publisher) and outlining the collaboration between her and Gaiman that finally saw the book make its way to print. Doran has a very likeable voice and – we’d hazard – it might be good to see what stories she herself has to tell in the future…
Any Cop?: Better even than we expected given our original enjoyment of Snow, Glass, Apples. Should be high on the list for any Gaiman completists or indeed anyone who has yet to add a graphic novel by Doran to their shelves.