Beowulf always was a graphic novel. In fact, brave Beowulf just might be the first modern action hero. After all, he has nearly everything an action hero ought to have: superhuman powers, a magical sword, a loyal buddy in heroic battle and a diabolical enemy.
Now, Beowulf truly is a graphic novel thanks to Santa Rosa author Alexis Fajardo, above, who puts in long creative hours at the Charles Schulz Studio. Fajardo has already written and published two sagas in his bloody, gutsy series: Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath ($15.95) and Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland ($17.95), both published by Bowler Hat Comics. Written with both today's kids and adults in mind, he's added humor to the mix and made Beowulf and his arch foe and rival, Grendel, twin brothers, which adds a menacing touch.
"I don't want to 'de-fang' these great epics," Fajardo says, "but rather inspire people to pick up the original epics and give them a read after they've read my take."
Now, Fajardo is hammering out the third work in the series, Kid Beowulf vs. El Cid. In another day and age, Fajaro might have grown up to become a scholar of old English or of the classics of Greek and Roman literature. But comic strips such as Pogo and Calvin and Hobbes grabbed hold of him when he was a kid and never let go. By high school, he'd met and fallen hard for Beowulf.
"Beowulf lit my brain on fire," he says now, his voice full of passion. "Then, when I read about Odysseus and Achilles, I could see how visual and striking the language was. From there I began to think of myself as a cartoonist and a graphic novelist."
Fajaro will need to have his mojo working steadily for the next couple years in order to complete all his projects. He has about 10 more epics he wants to tell.
"It's a lot of work," he says. "I do the whole nine yards—the penciling, the inking and scripting—and it takes time to do it all, but it's really a lot of fun. At the studio, I get to meet a lot of other artists, and it's great to be a part of the team and the whole Schulz legacy too. It's a comic-book dream come true."
Fajardo appears Saturday, Dec. 11, at Barnes and Noble, 700 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. 3pm. 707.576.7494.