NYCC 2019: Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler’s Cursed

by Tito W. James

At NYCC 2019 I attended a panel where Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler discussed their re-interpretation of the King Arthur myth. Cursed follows Niume who’s tasked with delivering a magic sword to Merlin and destined to become the lady of the lake.

Wheeler said that his inspiration for this story partially stemmed from his love of the movie Excalibur as a child. He cited the iconic image of the lady of the lake’s hand thrusting Excalibur out of the water and wished to know more about her. Wheeler also wanted a version of King Arthur that would appeal to his daughter that’s why he chose to write a YA novel.

Miller is bringing his trademark gritty sensibilities to the illustrations. This version of King Arthur also incorporates characters of African decent. When asked about injecting dark skinned characters into a traditionally white narrative, Miller commented that the race was less important than the character traits. Miller’s only concern when drawing Niume was that she was beautiful, intelligent, and in touch with nature.

Wheeler promised that classic Arthurian characters would make an appearance but in new and unexpected ways. This includes the new antagonists called the Red Paladins, a violent extremist group similar to ISIS, hellbent on eradicating the magical fae folk.

During the Q+A portion of the panel Miller and Wheeler gave some solid advice to aspiring storytellers. When asked about re-interpreting established characters or genres Miller said it was less about changing the source material and more about looking at the story from a different point of view. Wheeler said you should be respectful but not precious with the original story. Focus on what excites you about these characters and world. Bleed on the page with your personal experience. Create the story you want to read as opposed to what you think fans want to read.

Cursed is now available in book form and will be air as a Netflix TV show in 2020.

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