Interview: Erik Kriek Allows Us Into The World of 'The Exile'
Nov 08, 2022
Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
After seven years of exile, battle-hardened Hallstein Thordsson returns home to Iceland, only to find that old wounds haven't healed...
Writer-artist Erik Kriek through THE EXILE, a story of violence and consequence that is equal parts "Western" and family drama.
In the following interview, Kriek (In the Pines, Gutsman) explains the story behind this decades-spanning epic and lets us know what readers can expect. Keep reading...
Tell us about The Exile. What’s it about?
It is a story set in tenth-century Iceland. It tells the tale of one Hallstein, who returns to his native Iceland after having spent seven years in exile as punishment for the murder of his childhood friend Hrafn. During his exile, he saw a lot of violence and war, fighting in England. He wants to return and atone for his violent life and find peace. But Hrafn’s family is not about to let him do that so easily.
What can you tell us about Hallstein Thordsson? Why is he important to the story?
Hallstein is the main protagonist. He suffers from, what we today would call PTSS [post-traumatic stress syndrome], but was just called a ‘curse’ in medieval times. In medieval, pagan Scandinavia, the people believed everyone’s fate was ordained from birth. So Hallstein is no exception and accepts the fate the Norns have woven for him.
With so many true-life Viking tales to pick from, what made you want to create a work of fiction with historic details?
Are there that many true-life Viking tales around? Maybe, but not in graphic novel format in my experience. Not in Europe anyway. My mother is originally from Finland, so I’ve always held a special relation to Nordic culture and history. I also think that Vikings are depicted in such a wrong way in popular culture, I wanted to make a tale that did them more justice as the highly advanced people that they in fact were and not the beer-guzzling, horned-helmeted barbarians we see everywhere else.
How long was the research portion of the project before you started writing and doing artwork?
I read a lot of books on the subject and visited Iceland as well. All in all, it took me about two years I think before I had the story written and sketched out (in between commissioned jobs), and then the final rendering took about another year.
Would you say this is an action-adventure tale or more of a drama?
I would say it is a drama with some action/adventure elements, as well as a little bit of the supernatural slipped in. My stories always need a bit of the metaphysical to give them some magic I believe.
Looking forward, what can readers expect from The Exile?
I hope it appeals to a wider audience who enjoy a good yarn. It is not a boring history lesson, but rather I tried to tell a tale about real, morally ambiguous people. In short, people like you and me. Of course, they lived in much more violent times, so war and fighting were much more commonplace back then than it is now. (Well, in Europe anyway, we have very strict gun regulations over here.) So there are some depictions of gore and battle. But hey, it IS a Viking story eh?
In terms of audience, who is this book for?
When I write, I write for just one member of my audience: me. I’m confident enough to believe that if I like it, many more people will also like it:) So the book is for everybody who likes to read comics. Maybe not for young kids, but maybe from 12 years and up.
The Exile is available to preorder now at your local comic shop. Reserve your copy with PREVIEWSworld Pullbox.
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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.