Cursed: PREVIEWSworld Q&A With Frank Miller
Jun 30, 2019
This September, in conjunction with a 10-part Netflix original series, co-authors Tom Wheeler and comics legend Frank Miller (300, Sin City, The Dark Knight) will bring their unique new twist on the legend of King Arthur and the sword Excalibur to the masses with their Young Readers illustrated novel, Cursed (JUL192182), released by Simon & Schuster.
The book approaches the legend of King Arthur from a very different angle, focusing not on the destined King of the Britains, but the “Lady of the Lake” herself, Nimue. Featuring color and b&w illustrations from Miller, its an all-ages tour de force not to be missed!
In anticipation of the book’s offering in the July PREVIEWS, we spoke with Frank about the project, the Arthurian legend, and working with his co-author, Tom Wheeler.
PREVIEWSworld: The last decade has seen a number of King Arthur adaptations, among them the BBC's Merlin, the films King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Kid Who Would Be King, even Transformers: The Last Knight. What sets Cursed (both the illustrated novel with Tom Wheeler) and the forthcoming Netflix series apart? What do you see as the appeal of the Arthurian legend?
Frank Miller: It is a feminist retelling of the Arthurian myth. The appeal of the legend does have it all. That's why it's been the source of so many versions. It can be told in terms of politics, magic, war, romance. It also features great villains and great heroism.
PREVIEWSworld: Cursed posits a unique spin on the Arthurian legend — instead of Arthur wielding the mystical sword, it's Nimue, known in the legends as the "Lady of the Lake". What makes her a compelling character, and what does this change mean for the story?
Frank Miller: It puts a young woman at the center of the Arthurian myth. It gives us a previously unimagined history and meaning to the Lady of the Lake and the journey of the sword Excalibur.
PREVIEWSworld: How did you and Tom Wheeler come up with the idea of Cursed? How did ideas develop between you? How collaborative was the writing and illustration process?
Frank Miller: Tom is an easy man to talk with and is as fanatical a researcher as I am. This is material that I've loved as a fan, a storyteller and a visualist since I was a child, so it was a natural fit drawn out of conversations. For me it's an opportunity to be a close collaborator and for the first time a book illustrator.
PREVIEWSworld: Cursed is also coming to Netflix as a ten-episode series with Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) as Nimue. What has the creative process on the television series been like? Has working on the TV series had an influence on the novel and vice versa?
Frank Miller: Yes, there has been give and take, back and forth between both representations of the story. The originality in the process has lied in the organic meshing of both reinforcing one another.
PREVIEWSworld: Obviously, the fantasy and high adventure elements of a pre-Arthurian era are right in your wheelhouse. What has been your experience illustrating another author’s work after mainly covering your own projects for many years?
Frank Miller: It's been fun, and it's been a good stretch. A project like this makes me research and when I research, I learn. It's been an opportunity to study illustrations from the past particularly Arthur Rackham's who visualized Arthurian legend definitively.
PREVIEWSworld: Do any characters from Arthurian legend play a role in this story, such as Merlin (who is magical in nature and presumably ageless)?
Frank Miller: Yes, all of the characters of Arthurian legend that I can think of are in this, plus many more. Merlin's role in particular is rewarding to draw as the ultimate elemental.
PREVIEWSworld: What is it like writing for a YA readership under the Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers imprint?
Frank Miller: Working within new parameters was exciting to learn to serve the story and the audience we want to reach.
PREVIEWSworld: Does an illustrated novel fulfill the story for you and the readers without the television series? If you are trying to bring in comic book readers, would they be readers of Fables or Camelot 3000?
Frank Miller: Yes, it is a complete entity. It should appeal to all readers. We are aiming for the book to be a family heirloom or at least a nifty Christmas present.
PREVIEWSworld: Will there be a follow up to this book and are there plans for a graphic novel adaptation or comic series? If so, who would you like to see as the illustrator if you were not the artist?
Frank Miller: The book is its own goal at this time.
PREVIEWSworld: Cursed is another look at the Arthurian legend. Are there other books you’d recommend fans read as well?