Interview: The Birdking Returns For More Dark Fantasy And Violence!
Nov 14, 2023
Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
From artist Crom and writer Daniel Freedman comes the second volume of Birdking. Released by Dark Horse as original graphic novels, Birdking promises dark fantasy and epic adventure somewhere between George R.R. Martin and Kintaro Miura.
PREVIEWSworld talked with writer Daniel Freedman to find out more.
Let’s get into Birdking right away. What is the story about?
Birdking is a dark fantasy epic about Bianca, the teenaged apprentice of an infamous arcane blacksmith, who, after tragedy strikes, must flee her homeland in search of a fabled land of light. She is joined by a mysterious guardian spirit known as the Birdking, a towering reanimated suit of armor housing the former lord of the land. Together, they embark on a quest to find a new home across a war-ridden landscape full of enemies and obstacles, and along the way, unravel the mystery of their ancestral connection.
What can you tell us about Bianca? Why do we follow her through this story?
For starters, like the reader, Bianca knows almost nothing about the larger world she has been born into. Her master kept her sheltered in an attempt to keep her safe. But Bianca has the kind of curiosity that will kill a cat. Her appetite for history and answers is beyond repression, secretly acquiring every book she can find in an attempt to learn about the world her Master refuses to inform her about. When she is finally forced out into the larger world, she, and the reader, will have to explore and fight their way through it. The story is experiential in that way and by locking the reader into Bianca’s point of view, we get to share in her discoveries and revelations.
What made you want to team up with artist CROM again?
CROM had been developing the design of Birdking and some of the central cast for years, garnering a large following for the character before he even had a story to tell. He then came to me after we finished Raiders and asked if I would join him on a new quest to bring Birdking to life. I jumped at the opportunity to not only work with CROM again but to tell a truly epic multi-volume fantasy tale, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
Is this more of a Tolkien-type fantasy or something much darker?
A little bit of both. While Tolkien is certainly an early inspiration, we have more likened Birdking to a cross-pollination between the dark fantasy stylings of Dark Souls with the whimsical sincere adventure of Princess Mononoke. I like to say that Birdking has two godfathers and they’re both named Miyazaki. In addition to those two brilliant gents, Glen Cook’s Black Company series as well as Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun are also personal influences on the writing and storytelling approach.
Tell us about your collaborators on the book. Who are the art teams on the title?
Birdking, like Raiders, is produced almost entirely just between CROM and I. I handle the writing while CROM handles all the art. We do have an amazing letterer, Michael David Thomas, who comes in at the end and makes everything gel together. And a graphic designer, Diana Ortiz, who assembles the final package and makes sure the book looks as good as it can. It's a small but mighty team.
In terms of audience, who Birdking for?
I have heard Birdking called a grim dark (a sub-genre label for grounded realistic often brutal fantasy like Game of Thrones or Berserk) but I would say its a grim dark for all ages (12 and up). Birdking is written for a wider audience than Raiders and we are certainly trying to court a wide range of readers, from fantasy enthusiasts to angsty teenaged boys and girls, to fans of stirring emotive character-driven stories. Birdking at its heart is a coming-of-age tale about a teenage girl trying to find her way through a dark and complex world. She faces many hardships and much loss, but will continue to strive forward with an open heart despite the world giving her no reason to do so. I’d like to think that's a sentiment everyone can connect with.
Birdking vol. 2 is available December 6th at your local comic shop. Reserve your copy today with PREVIEWSworld Pullbox!
Bianca, teenage apprentice to an infamous arcane blacksmith, is forced to flee her homeland and seek out Atlas, a fabled land of light ruled by "the clean god." She is joined by a mysterious guardian spirit known only as the "BirdKing." Together they will have to overcome dozens of enemies to reach Atlas and along the way, unravel the mystery of the BirdKing and their ancestral connection.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalypse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.