Nottingham of Mad Cave Studios releases for trade on September 22. Writer David Hazan’s grimdark depiction of Robin Hood follows the character Sheriff Everett. Artist Shane Connery Volk may make the sheriff look frightening, but nowhere near as frightening as the Merry Men. Colorist Luca Romano paints these guerrilla fighters with red masks and blood, it’s enough to question who’s really heroic. The lettering by Joamette Gil shows that each character has a unique perspective.
Nottingham And Changing Perspectives
Calling back to the first issue, Nottingham shakes away any pretense of good or evil. The ballads about Robin Hood are messy, especially when it comes to his loyalty to King Richard. So it’s always good to be open to new interpretations. This one in particular challenges readers to look beyond the typical charitable depiction of the Merry Men. Because despite whatever chants they make, Hazan paints them as a militant cult, not unlike the crusaders.
Which ties back to the sheriff, Everett, a grizzled veteran of the crusades who leaves a bad first impression. He’s willing to get into the face of Maid Marian for her involvement with Hood, so it’s easy to see him as the traditional villain. That is until we learn more about how Everett and his men came into their positions in the first place. They’re not bad people as much as they are people with a lot of bad luck. At least in how they have to deal with their corrupt and overbearing superior. Sheriff Everett, in particular, is easily the most transparent character out of everyone. He’s crude and doesn’t hold much sway in politics, but he always tries do best by the common man.
Predation In Art
Volk’s art in Nottingham is very complex. Even his design of the sheriff is completely memorable. Sheriff Everett’s hunched figure with adornments make him look like a vulture, a truly haunting presence. Later as the story develops, the reader finds that the large regal cape he wears looks symbolic of the burdens of war and the responsibility of his position. Even that vulture comparison can be positive. Vultures are known to slow the spread of disease. Just as the sheriff tries to contain the collateral damage of the Merry Men.
That’s probably what makes the Merry Men’s coloring by Romano so striking. Their usual green clothes make them blend in with the forest and common folk. But their red masks, with exaggerated grins, are like a disease hiding in plain sight. The black cloaked Hood looks especially terrifying with how they can move in the shadows.
Letters Of Confession
Gil’s lettering in Nottingham has a powerful form of presentation. It’s probably at its most effective is in a confession letter a traitorous captain leaves for the Sheriff. By presenting the letter in caption form to the reader, regret and sorrow permeates throughout the Sheriff clashing with clergy in the forest. Amid the violence the Sheriff commits with basic word balloons and sound effects, the reader feels fear for the captain. So by the time the Sheriff finds the letter after his rage dies down, the dour feelings finally sink in.
Look Into Nottingham
Nottingham is an enthralling dive into the legend of Robin Hood. Characters have more complex motivators than what their first impressions imply. How it all presents itself is what makes each interaction so memorable.