Battle of Bannockburn graphic novel explained
The Artistic Director for the book, Adam Stanning of Bright White Ltd, explains the background to the project…
The graphic novel was conceived to compliment the interpretation of The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre.
The centre takes a high level view of the battle, the types of combatant, arms and armour and the tactical decision making of commanders on the battlefield. The graphic novel on the other hand explores the more human, character driven stories of those affected by the battle.
Like all battles there is no black and white and we wanted to explore characters that exist within the grey regions, who's allegiances may shift or who may have a very different perspective on the battle than expected. It was through this thinking that a story with multiple protagonists evolved, allowing us to explore characters with wildly different motivations.
Jack Faucomberg, a young knight in Edward II's army, is propelled into battle by his conviction to the cause of his king and his desire to prove himself on the battlefield.
Whilst Eva, a local Stirling girl, is growing tired of her mother's insistence to keep out of the treacherous politics of the battle and uses the opportunity to embark on a very personal quest.
The characters lives become intertwined with the events of the battle and will be forever changed as a result.
The complexity of war, when focussing on the lives of those involved, means there is a wealth of potential stories to explore. Much more than we could ever hope to cover in one book and so I hope that our use of the graphic novel as a form of interpretation is just the beginning of many more stories centred around the Battle of Bannockburn and that it inspires other museums and visitor centres to explore their own stories through this exciting and engaging format.
As lead designers of the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre, which we won in 2010 in open competition, it was a natural fit for us to adopt the graphic novel project given our familiarity with the subject matter and my personal love of the medium. The novel itself was always conceived to compliment the interpretation at the centre, so an understanding of wider project was essential.
The graphic novel is aimed a very broad age range, excluding the very young due to some adult themes and violence. However, there was a conscious effort to ensure the novel appealed to the hard-to-reach teen and young adult ages.
The writer, Dr Fiona Watson, brought unparalleled authenticity and accuracy to the story. (Read Fiona's article on Bannockburn in the special Bannockburn issue of History Scotland magazine).
In developing The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre we created a vast number of highly accurate, rigorously researched virtual 3D assets, from underwear and jewellery to weapons and armour.
These virtual objects form the basis of the highly authentic characters you encounter within the centre. This meant that the graphic novel could draw upon that huge resource to ensure the clothing, weapons and armour were as historically accurate as possible.
Then the challenge was to find an artist whose style was commensurate with the tone of the larger project and who could do justice to research. That is, where Conor Boyle stepped in, whose work was universally loved within the team. His illustrations combine the perfect mix of detail and style, doing the research justice whilst pulling the reader from one panel to the next.
he lures you from one panel to the next and then the artwork explodes in the battle scenes
Conor was able to create action in the most unexpected of places, something as simple as a conversation becomes a visual treat as he lures you from one panel to the next and then the artwork explodes in the battle scenes.
We knew we wanted to create about half the book in colour, this allowed us to use colour for impact, either selectively colouring key characters such as the kings or creating that magic moment when you turn a page to reveal full colour.
As with colour, 3D is also used. This again strengthens the connection to the Bannockburn Visitor Centre which uses 3D on a scale previously unseen in interpretation and we wanted some of this magic to spill over into the novel.
The novel has been exceptionally well received and when paired with the interpretation at the centre, forms one of many strong avenues for engagement with this incredible story.
On Dangerous Ground: Bannockburn 1314 will be available from the new shop at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre when it opens its doors on 1 March, priced £14.99.