An Interview with Joe Todd-Stanton, the creator of Arthur and the Golden Rope
It is with great applause that I welcome Joe Todd-Stanton into the fabulous world of children's literature with his first book, Brownstone's Mythical Collection: Arthur and the Golden Rope. This is his first solo venture and he shows us that he not only places great worth on those stories which are the backbone to our culture but he also recognises the power of stories which celebrate the rite of the ordinary person undergoing extraordinary challenges in order to save the day and find themselves.
1. Describe your office and the format you like working in.
|Cover illustration for an OUP text showing Joe delving into other myths|
Definitely. I think the really interesting thing about myths is the way they often cross extraordinary characters and situations with very human problems. They are a great way for people to look at moral conundrums through a more entertaining lens.
3. I am a huge fan of traditional tales and wondered what drew you especially to Norse mythology.
I think Norse mythology is something that isn't explored enough in English schools even though there is a big connection between it and early English literature like Beowulf. I also love style of the Art and the characters since they give a lot licence to be very epic and over the top.
|Arthur and some creepy monkeys: An unused illustration of Jo's|
Well it's gruesome but I think the original tale of Fenrir and the golden rope is very interesting. Tyr knowingly scarifies his hand so he can trick the wolf into a false sense of security giving the other gods the chance to tie him up. This is a good lesson about moral ambiguity and the idea that sadly not every tale is clean cut and that in some situations you may have to sacrifice a small thing for the greater good of the ones you love.
6. Can you share your favourite scene from Arthur and the Golden Rope and talk a little about its creation.
My favourite scenes to work on were the wordless ones. Growing up, I was a big comic book fan and enjoyed putting some of those sensibilities into the story. I especially liked drawing the part where Arthur had to climb the World Tree as I loved opportunity of playing with scale and seeing how epic I could make the climb feel.
7. I love the fact that it is Arthur's wit which helps him succeed. How much research did you put into working out Arthur's character and how much reading around traditional tales did you do?
I think the scene in the Hobbit when Bilbo has to answer Gollum's riddles had a big effect on me as a kid and what I thought were good heroic qualities to have. I also looked a lot at Tintin and how even though his character never really says that much, you get a good sense of his personality just from his facial expressions and how he goes about his adventures.
Arthur and the Golden Rope is available at Flying Eye books