Cammuso on Knights of the Lunch Table
Frank Cammuso first made a splash with his acclaimed series Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective. His work there got him noticed by Scholastic Books, which led to his new full-color graphic novel series Knights of the Lunch Table.The first volume, The Dodgeball Chronicles, introduces us to Artie King, newest student at Camelot Middle School. The principal can’t stand him, and he’s already run afoul of head bully Mo. But luckily, he finds a few friends in fellow outsiders Percy and Wayne, and has an ally in science teacher Mr. Merlyn…and somehow manages to open a locker that no one else has been able to crack. Together with his friends as a dodgeball team called the Knights, Artie King’s legend is about to begin. To find out more, we talked with Cammuso, who also did the young readers GN Otto’s Orange Day with Jay Lynch earlier this year, about his new series. Newsarama: Frank, tell our readers about the premise and characters for Knights of the Lunch Table. Frank Cammuso: Knights of the Lunch Table is a humorous retelling of the Arthurian Legends set in a modern day Middle School. It's sort of the Middle Ages meets Middle school. NRAMA: How did you come up with this idea? FC: I have always loved the King Arthur stories, and have wanted to update them for years. I actually had a concept for a screenplay involving an adult Arthur set around a bowling alley. But when Scholastic approached me to do a book for them, I retooled the idea. I made Arthur younger and set it in a middle school. It worked out great! NRAMA: What kind of research did you do into the Arthurian legends for this story? FC: I did research on both fronts for this book. I read as many Arthurian Stories as I could get my hands on. I had to take a lot of the different stories and put them together. Then I had to really boil it down to the iconic moments. You know, the things you think about when hear the name King Arthur. On the other front, I also spent some time at my old middle school. I don't know about yours, but my middle school was fairly medieval. NRAMA: Do you have any kids of your own, and if so, did they help in creating this book? FC: I don't have any children yet. But I think I know enough about kids. I actually, I got my start as a kid. NRAMA: How much did you draw from your own experiences for writing Artie and friends? FC: I took quite a bit of my childhood experiences and put it in Knights. The most important thing that I tried to do was to make this a fun book. I wanted to capture the wonder of being ten. I wanted it to be an escape for that kid who had a really rotten day. NRAMA: When you're doing a graphic novel like this, what are some of the unique challenges and advantages of being able to tell the story at your own pace? FC: Doing a graphic novel is a lot like running a marathon. It's very difficult to keep the energy and enthusiasm at the same level. Especially when you reach page 72 of a 144 page book. It's a very long process and it's hard to keep track of where you've been and where you're going. I saw all the pages at least at least four times. What with doing the roughs, the pencils, the inks and the colors myself. I had a mantra that I would repeat while I was drawing. I just kept saying "one page at a time, one page at a time". Believe it or not, it worked. NRAMA: Has there been any interest in Knights of the Lunch Table for film or animation? It seems like a natural fit. FC: Thanks, but I haven't heard a peep so far. Hello, Hollywood are you out there? I think it would make a great film. NRAMA: What are some of the adventures Artie and the Knights will face in upcoming books? FC: The Knights will be back for at least one more book, although I have quite a few stories I'd like to tell. I'm writing the second book now and all I can say is one word. DRAGONS. NRAMA: Whoo! Are you working on any non-Knights projects at this time, and if so, can you talk about them? FC: After I finish the second Knights book I have two more graphic novels to do for Scholastic. It's a series called "The Misadventures of Salem Hyde". I am also drawing another Otto comic for Toon-Books with underground comix legend Jay Lynch. Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dodgeball Chronicles is in stores now.
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