- Posted by Ed Sizemore on August 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Frank Cammuso
- PUBLISHER: Graphix / Scholastic; $10.99 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Artie and the Knights must save the school’s Battle of the Bands program. It’s been twenty-seven years since Camelot Middle School has won. If they don’t win this year, then Principal Dagger will use the Battling Bands money to purchase school uniforms. Artie is also on a mission to find the missing Battle of the Bands trophy, the legendary Singing Sword.
I’ve enjoyed the previous two volumes of Knights of the Lunch Table, so I was pleased to see this new volume out. Quick warning to those of us over thirty: This book will make you feel very old. Artie finds an ancient relic that he’s never seen before, a cassette tape.
The lesson for Artie this volume is not to judge people and objects based on appearances. The most visual example of this lesson is a geode he discovers. The person Artie misjudges is Melody, a new student who looks like Pippi Longstocking with glasses. She tries a little too hard to fit in, and Artie mistakes her eagerness for romantic attraction. Artie, why must you learn everything the hard way?
One of my favorite aspects of this series is seeing Cammuso work in references to Arthurian legend. The Singing Sword is actually the creation of Hal Foster. It’s Prince Valiant’s sword, said to be a sister sword to Excalibur. Of course, a book about swords has to have a reference to the Lady of the Lake. There’s even a reference to the Fisher King.
Unfortunately, Gwen still has only a small part to play. The strong female character in this volume is Melody. I talked to Cammuso about the female characters at the Baltimore Comic-Con. He admitted that the girls get short shrift in Knights of the Lunch Table. Part of the reason is Scholastic’s worries that a strong female character will turn away boy readers. A second reason is that the girls are so much more interesting that they threaten to overtake the story if they have bigger roles. This makes me wish Cammuso would do a companion series starring Gwen and her adventures.
Cammuso’s artwork is delightful. I love the guitar design featured on the front cover. It gets hard to find new ways to praise his art as the series continues. As always, my favorite part is the facial expressions. He’s perfect at conveying any emotion visually. Just flip through the book, and you can tell what any character is feeling without reading a word.
I continue to highly recommend the Knights of the Lunch Table series for everyone. It’s a great all-ages series that adults and kids can enjoy together. The Battling Bands has plenty of humor, heart, and a strong message about getting to know people for who they are and not how they look. A lesson that’s always relevant, regardless of your age.