Sagas of the Shield Maiden is a Viking Western. It’s a simple pitch, but it’s the best way I’ve found to describe it. Following the exploits of the legendary and nameless Shield Maiden as she traverses Scandinavia and beyond the North Sea, each book contains multiple stories of her life, drawing influence from a combination of Norse mythology/Viking history and Spaghetti Westerns and Samurai cinema. Book Two is funding on Kickstarter right now where you can also pick up copies of Book One if you missed the first campaign.
The lone wandering hero has always been a staple of fiction from knight errants to rōnins to cowboys. Ever-present within comics, the influences for Sagas of the Shield Maiden are numerous, but these comics specifically are ones that I went back to when writing the stories of the Shield Maiden.
Lone Wolf & Cub
It’s an obvious one, but Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s anthological series, which tells the tale of a ronin and his son journeying across Tokugawa period Japan, is a heavy influence in genre, style and story.
Ogami Ittō (the Lone Wolf himself) is the ultimate wandering protagonist and his journeyed life remains one of the most significant stories that I refamiliarise myself with whenever I am searching for inspiration.
Specifically the Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti written series (pre-New 52) from the character’s long history. Each issue tells a different self-contained story of the longstanding Western hero. Itself inspired by the Spaghetti Westerns that played a big part in the Shield Maiden’s inception. These stories were more focused on building up Hex’s character than a continuous plot while making sure each issue could be read absent of the rest – something I hadn’t seen much of in monthly comics from the Big Two up until that point.
"When writing Shield Maiden, it was Eternal and Ryan K Lindsay’s influence that pushed me towards choosing the large format for the comic."
The influence from Eternal, a Viking story of a badass Shield Maiden, might seem obvious at first glance. Surprisingly, however, it isn’t the contents within that inspired the Shield Maiden but instead the way in which it was presented. Although I do love the book itself, the larger format was something I was captivated by. It showcased Eric Zawadzki's art and Dee Cunniffe's colours expertly and I couldn’t imagine the story told in the more-standard comic format. When writing Shield Maiden, it was Eternal and Ryan K Lindsay’s influence that pushed me towards choosing the large format for the comic.
Tim Seeley’s horror series is an unconventional influence but its journey from one-shots to series is one that I used as somewhat guidelines for writing the stories within Sagas of the Shield Maiden.
Hack/Slash slowly builds up its character base and villains as the series expands from single-issue stories to the longer form.
The first Book of Sagas of the Shield Maiden had more, shorter stories with Book Two giving fewer stories a longer page count. The hope is to expand as I write more books, eventually giving an entire book to a single story.