Crown­ing Glory

Rob Wil­liams talks to Stephen Jewell about rein­vent­ing the Roy­als

Comic Heroes - - Front Page -

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

ac­tion se­quences

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.”

Dog­fight­ing over Buck­ing­ham Palace. Ex­pect fire­balls and ex­plo­sions aplenty.

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