Robin Hood has been a part of popular culture for centuries, but a new comic book reimagines the hero of Sherwood Forest as a gay outlaw with little interest in getting into Maid Marian’s petticoats.
Coming in June, Merry Men is set in the 12th century and focuses on the archer before he became the legendary folk hero. Here he’s just Robert Godwinson, a middle-class yeoman who has returned from the Crusades.
Godwinson was romantically involved with King Richard, but when wicked King John comes to power, he's banished as part of a new law criminalizing homosexuality.
Robin and his troupe are content to hang out in the forest until a mysterious stranger asks for help against the Sheriff of Nottingham.
"Robin Hood is the hero who stands up for the little guy... Beyond that, he's pretty much open to interpretation,” Merry Men writer Robert Rodi told Newsarama."
He reveals the idea for the book took shape while he was reading academic articles about how the Robin Hood legend could have been inspired by sexual outlaws.
"This was about the time the marriage equality and [the Occupy movement] were in the headlines. So I decided, okay, that's what I think Robin Hood is. Only in the 12th century. In a forest."
And while Robin Hood may be anachronistically out, artist Jackie Lewis made sure all the other details were authentic.
“So, so much research! I have three different books dedicated to recreating clothing from the early medieval era, just because I wanted to know exactly what I was drawing. Tons of books on castles, weapons, all that stuff.... I love working on period stories that allow for a bit of wiggle room in the design department."
The "merry" in Merry Men has a different meaning than we've come to expect, and Rodi certainly doesn't shy away from same-sex trysts. But at its core, the book sounds more like Game of Thrones than Queer as Folk.
"There's romance, adventure, palace intrigue, military campaigns, religious friction, bloodshed, sex, and vile, dastardly villains—Not everyone makes it through the arc in one piece," Rodi reveals.
"I'm trying to be as true to 12th century verisimilitude as possible, while still telling a story 21st century readers—especially 21st century queer readers—can identify with," he adds.
"Even if you can't identify with it, you can still ogle Jackie's super-hot take on western civilization's prototype lumbersexuals.”