REVIEW: Chivalry by Neil Gaiman
Another delightfully humorous and sweet fantasy graphic novel adaptation of a Neil Gaiman short story, brought to you by the Eisner award-winning creative team behind Troll Bridge and Snow, Glass, Apples: Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran!
An elderly British widow buys what turns out to be the Holy Grail from a second-hand shop, setting her off on an epic visit from an ancient knight who lures her with ancient relics in hope for winning the cup.
I was intrigued when I saw this released last year. Not having read the short story on which this illustrated edition is based, I quickly hopped over to Hoopla and borrowed the book in which it was published. That was enjoyable enough but when I finally got my hands on this graphic book and could see Colleen Doran’s work, I was charmed.
Widowed Mrs Whitaker often treats herself to a visit to the local Oxfam shop after walking to the post office to collect her pension. It’s here that she finds the Holy Grail (yes, she knows what it is) and decides the price is reasonable (30p) and that it would look nice on the mantelpiece. After she cleans it up and places it there (beside a picture of her late husband), she sees that it does.
The next day, after tea with Mrs. Greenberg and then her lunch, the doorbell rings. It’s a nice young man in silver plate armor who announces he’s on a quest for the Holy Grail. He asks if it’s here and may he come in. Mrs. Whittaker needs some i.d. first as women who live alone shouldn’t let just anyone in. Luckily, after fumbling through the saddle bag on his gray charger, he presents one signed by Arthur, King of all Britons. Still, she isn’t interested in handing over the Grail.
And so begins Galaad’s efforts to find something that Mrs. Whitaker will take for the Grail. She’s not interested in the wondrous sword he brings after the weekend. They talk about their families while he helps her move stuff in the boxroom so she can dust. He offers a few other amazing things and Mrs. Whitaker makes her decision. Then serves Galaad some tea using her best china before sending him off with a bit of food to eat later on.
The story is delightful but these illustrations just make it. Colleen Doran’s notes on her long quest to bring this project to life are almost as good. Galaad is nice and earnest though he seems as if maybe he’s still got some maturing to do. Mrs. Whitaker is a love but also an Englishwoman of practicality and no nonsense. I think she makes the best choices both about what Galaad offers her and about what she knows she really doesn’t have room for on the mantelpiece. I do hope she finds someone to leave her mementos to. A