Rob Williams talks to Stephen Jewell about reinventing the Royals
If Marvel had hired Julian Fellowes to script the latest Captain America blockbuster, you might end up with something like The Royals: The Masters Of War.
Written by sometime Comic Heroes scribe Rob Williams and drawn by 2000 AD’s Simon Coleby, February’s Vertigo six-parter casts the British monarchy in a very different light, portraying the larger-than-life regals as superhuman saviours who come to the nation’s rescue after the outbreak of World War II.
But although it’s easy – and frightening – to imagine Prince Harry transformed into a testosterone-fuelled caped crusader, the main characters are apparently not based upon any real-life blue-bloods. And while the author counts the original 1977 Wars as a pivotal inspiration, the suspect relationship between main character Henry and his noble sister Rose instead brings to mind the rather more seedy affair between Jaime and Cersei Lannister in Game Of Thrones.
“Henry, is a noble, good-hearted young man when we meet him, so think Luke Skywalker in A New Hope,” says Williams. “He wants to make a difference for the right reasons, and he has the Superman-style powers to do so, if only his father will allow him to get involved in the war. Rose is a little older and more emotionally mature. She’s battling with her own telepathy and she also has a good heart. But Henry and Rose may be battling their own feelings towards one another too.”
According to Williams, it is their older brother Arthur, the Prince of Wales, who steals the show. “He’s a drunkard and a womaniser – a completely selfish shit – and he’s very acerbic too,” he explains. “He gets all the best lines and isn’t at all happy about having to fight a commoner’s war. And then there’s the King and Queen. Mum’s mad and dad’s
The imagery of World War II allows for some big
a sweet old dithering Richard Briers-type. He’s more concerned with making sure the Palace doesn’t get scratched by German bombs!”
Having recently brought sci-fi superhero epic The Ten-Seconders to a close in 2000 AD, Williams believes that The Royals is closer in tone to Cla$$War, the Com.X alternate caped crusader tale with which he made his comic book debut in 2002.
“It’s similar in terms of societal themes and also scale and widescreen imagery,” he reasons. “The Royals is the most I’ve used that kind of classic, The Authority- style pacing, where the imagery of World War II allows for some hugely impressive double-page splashes and big action sequences.
“Simon Coleby delivers that side of things brilliantly as #1 opens with the type of action sequence Hollywood would die for. The Royals is the type of book where you know the artist has been cursing the writer throughout as it’s very demanding artistically. There’s no shortcuts here and Simon has put the scale, grandeur and horror of World War II on the page.”