Is the hero a time traveller flitting between the 1940s and a medieval world, or just a disturbed mental patient in an asylum hallucinating it all? This is the unsettling premise of Kevin Chilcoat’s new comic, Knight in the Snake Pit, about a man who believes he can live in the past just a little too literally. Could this comic be a dragon-slaying success, or is it a title better off left in the past?
Publisher: HGL Productions
Writer: Kevin Chilcoat
Artist: Marc Olivent
Price: £2.99 from ComiXology
Knight in the Snake Pit begins with Alastair Ward waking in a cold dark room, naked and strapped to a metal bed and having no memories as to who he is or why he’s here. Alastair soon discovers that he is a dangerous patient within an insane asylum and, due to his ongoing aggressive behaviour, is due to undergo a dangerous therapy to combat his deranged tales of dragons and princess’. However, no sooner does the therapy begin, Alastair finds himself transported to another place and another time, where a King has recruited him to rescue his daughter and save his kingdom. Has Alastair discovered a way to escape his prison and life for a new one or is this all just a vision playing out in his head?
With this comic, creator Kevin Chilcoat has produced a story that is equally unnerving and creepy. This is especially so during the asylum scenes which, from page to page, do come across as an uncomfortable read regarding events and even characters dialogue. However, Knight in the Snake Pit is also an intriguing story which really comes into play when the time travel element is revealed, which was unexpected and changed the tone of the book from one which felt very real-world to another which was a lot more fantastical. That said, the dialogue from main character Alastair is a mixed bag and is maybe the issue’s major stumbling block because, while there is plenty of mystery to him, the way he is written is stiff, especially when he is first introduced.
While the writing is hit or miss overall, the artwork involved is impressive. Marc Olivent provides us with a style which imbues a lot of similarity to Michael Lark’s work on Lazarus and, with it, gives the story a nice sense of grounding. This is best seen in the Asylum scenes which come off a very grim and dirty, providing a very real atmosphere to the entire location. Meanwhile, Olivent’s use of very natural colours really helps with giving the whole book a realistic sense while also giving the panels a real beauty, best scene when Alastair steps out of the Castle to see the ‘new’ world. Of course, not all is perfect as the facial features do look a little rough. That said, one could argue that this is deliberate to give them a creepier, more Templesmith inspired look, in which case it is a success.
Overall, Knight in the Snake Pit isn’t all action from the get go, but neither is it likely to put you to sleep. Chilcoat and Olivent have create a very beautiful looking, slowly engrossing comic which may just leave you with enough questions to come back. Of course, if the questions don’t the jump the shark cliffhanger might certainly compel you to!