International comic book jack-of-all-trades Frank Miller and writer Tom Wheeler sat down at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) to discuss their collaboration on Cursed. In an interesting experiment in story development, Cursed is both a Netflix series and a novel, with the two properties developed simultaneously. Wheeler and Miller co-created Cursed, with Wheeler writing the novel and Miller illustrating. The two also worked together on the development of the television series. An Arthurian legend told from the point of view of teenage girl Nimue (Katherine Langford), Cursed follows her quest to deliver a very important sword to a legendary wizard.
Zetna Fuentes, who directed and executive produced the first two episodes of the series, moderated the panel. All three discussed the story of Cursed and its unusual development. Unlike most television show adaptations, Fuentes didn't have a completed body of work on which to base the show. Wheeler was still writing the novel as Fuentes developed the series. As such, many of the design decisions were made as a group, with Miller acting as an art director. Despite the fantasy elements of the story, Fuentes and Wheeler want the background to be true to Middle Ages/Pre-Roman England – with costumes, sets, and scripts analyzed with the setting and time period in mind.
According to the panel, the show's visual style is strongly based on Miller's art for the book – with many of Miller's book illustrations on display for the SDCC audience. Mostly in black and white, the art has a geometric aspect – brutal with its hard edges and stark contrasts between dark and light. The few colored pieces that were shown feel like animated stills. The colors are bright, and the characters are in action, fighting, hiding, or speaking. Miller's dark artistic style is evident throughout. During the panel, Miller and Fuentes pointed out that despite the young adult audience, they wanted to focus on the hard, dark realities of the Middle Ages.
Initially, Miller and Wheeler developed the basic story of Nimue without knowing what format it would take. By the time they had decided to write a novel, Netflix was knocking on their door wanting to work with them. As a result, the show and novel began to take shape at the same time. Wheeler and Miller co-created the show and according to Fuentes, strongly influenced the content – and vice-versa. Wheeler explained that occasionally he would like something that Fuentes did on the show and add it to the novel. It will be interesting to see the results of this unorthodox development/production method on the final products.
Fuentes and Wheeler also provided some insight into the content of the story itself. As had been previously reported, Nimue eventually becomes the mythical Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend. Arthur (Devon Terrell) will accompany Nimue on her quest. Villains such as the Weeping Monk (Peter Mullan) and Sister Iris will terrorize the youths. The Red Scourge, burning Fey villages, and the killing innocents is what initially sets Nimue on her quest. Of course, Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård) will appear – with the audience treated to new images of Nimue, Arthur, and Merlin during the panel. Wheeler was quick to point out that the show and the book are merely related, and not direct copies.
Wheeler and Miller were both fascinated by Arthurian legends as children, and Wheeler wanted to make something his 12 year old daughter would enjoy. However, Arthurian adaptations are too numerous to count, several of which have focused on the women of the story. Billing Cursed as a sort of Arthurian prequel, Wheeler, Miller, and Fuentes say that their story follows epic heroes before they become eventual legends. In fact, Wheeler hinted that several characters in Cursed will eventually grow to be the legendary Arthurian characters, but are unidentifiable early on.
The Cursed novel by Wheeler and Miller will be released on October 1, 2019, with the series set to premiere on Netflix in Spring 2020. Now here's a look at gallery of Miller's artwork for Cursed:
Here's a look at the official preview images released by Netflix post-SDCC 2019: