Jiří Grus, Vojtěch Mašek, Džian Baban

The Dragon Never Sleeps

Trans. Benoît Meunier
Le dragon ne dort jamais
Le dragon ne dort jamais
Casterman, 2020
Language: French
Genre: Comics

Jiří Grus, a native of Trutnov, adapted a local legend about the fight of a knight and craftsmen against a dragon grandiosely and with a sense of dark atmosphere.

As for size, this comic book stands out a mile: the authors opted for a nonstandard landscape format (300 × 250 mm), hardback binding and full-colour printing. All of that on an impressive 160 pages, which is an above-standard length even for a graphic novel. Baban and Mašek supplemented the original legend about the founding of the town of Trutnov and the fight of a knight against a dragon not only with fantasy elements, but mainly by colourfully developing supporting characters and secondary plot lines.

They compose a multi-layered story with multiple meanings about temptation and responsibility, about courage and cowardice, about succumbing to baseness and surprising displays of both physical and moral powers. Like in the (literary and film) masterpiece Marketa Lazarová, microstories intertwine here about characters wandering the wilderness and being confronted with the limits of their humanity: members of the knight’s plebeian retinue (stonemasons, carpenters, bricklayers, cooks) excel at mutual squabbling and accusations rather than fighting, and are apt to panic, hostility and even lynching.

All of that is depicted by Grus’ expressive drawing, with aquarelle colouring in red and brown shades, which suggests a hostile autumn mountain landscape, but also danger for most characters, blood and dragon’s fire. When creating dozens of characters, Grus’ hand is certain and experienced in drawing and the characters are distinctive, with their nature somehow almost written all over their face. As soon as a ghost looking like a human being appears in the story, the reader feels intense danger, no matter whether the ghost looks like a devil, or like an angel.

Information about the original Czech edition

Drak nikdy nespí

Language: French
Title: Le dragon ne dort jamais
Publisher: Casterman
Year: 2020
Genre: Comics