Robin Hood: Outlaw Of The 21st Century is a modern version of Robin Hood with the focus on stealing medicine to give to the poor rather than money. This is not the story we are familiar with; it has gripping car chases, uneasy allies and exciting gun fights. There’s plenty of surprises in this black and white series and you can check out issue zero for free here
Keep reading for a behind the panels look with the writer Matt Dursin.
Interview by David Jenkins
MM: Thanks for accepting my interview request, Matt.
Matt: Thank you. Independent creators need all the help we can get to spread the word these days.
MM: As someone who has been lucky enough to go to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, I was wondering what historical research you did into Robin Hood?
Matt: Admittedly, I only did a little bit of online research. I would love to visit Nottingham and Sherwood Forest one day, but at the time, I was more focused on the characters and seeing if I could make them work in a modern setting.
MM: Is there anything from the legend that you wanted to include in the story but couldn’t fit in?
Matt: I really feel like I’ve only scratched the surface so far. There is a ballad called “Robin’s progress to Nottingham” which is one version of his sort of origin story that I would have liked to work into the mix, but it is actually kind of violent, so I’m not sure it would have worked with the story I was trying to tell.
MM: How much time has passed in the comic between issue 0 and issue 1 as Will follows Robin’s lead in issue 1 without question?
Matt: In my mind, it’s probably a good 8-10 years. The issue shows Will using Instant Messenger to meet girls, and I know there are different apps and stuff now, but I always pictured it as AOL, which was dying out even in the mid-2000’s. But then Will was probably a little behind the times, too.
MM: Some of the characters are different to the folk tales like Maid Marian with her job as a nurse and even her punk style she is a far cry from the privileged damsel in distress that Hollywood portrays. What was the reason for that change?
Matt: I feel like the damsel in distress is definitely passe’ these days. Even when I wrote the first issue several years ago, I never wanted Marian to be a trope. I tried my best to make her an integral part of the story and not just someone who is there for the male characters to talk to. As far as her being a nurse, I just thought that she would be a good avenue for Rob to use to get information about who needs the meds and where he can get them. And obviously, there aren’t a lot of “Maids” today like there were in the old legends.
MM: What year is the story meant to be set in as the houses and fashion seem similar to ours. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are relevant, but the society has regressed so much in particular the police corruption that I can’t put a decade on it?
Matt: Unfortunately, it is today, and I’m trying not to pat myself on the back here, because it wasn’t intentional, but now it seems like it was almost ahead of its time. I wrote it before the Trump Presidency, and I feel like American society has sadly regressed over the last four years, and police corruption is a reality in the U.S., as we saw with the horrible incidents that spurred the Black Lives Matter movement. And just last week, our own Capital was under siege, and several of the officers involved in that are under investigation as we speak. There are certainly some interesting Robin Hood stories that could come from all that is happening in the country right now.
MM: It’s an interesting choice to have Robin stealing medicines instead of money due to the state of the health care system. The story is topical with the lack of universal health care in USA and Tories attempt to scale it back in UK. What made you choose to have Robin stealing medicines?
Matt: That was actually based on some of my own experiences with our healthcare system. As a diabetic, I have been dealing with it personally for over twenty years. And a few years ago, I suffered a rare lung infection and was prescribed an antibiotic that cost $1000 for a one month supply, and that was the generic version, and with insurance. I remember asking myself, “How would anyone pay for this without insurance?” They would probably just suffer, like John’s father says in the book.
MM: What was the most difficult thing about writing the series?
Matt: This may not be the most glamorous answer, but the most difficult thing as the writer was hiring the other creative talents to make the book a reality, and then actually putting the files together in the proper format to get it printed and online digitally so people could read it. The actual writing of the book was the fun part!
MM: What’s next for the series? I feel that there are several mysteries about Robin’s past like how he shoots so well or how he met Marian.
Matt: I have several ideas on where it could go, especially now with COVID and maybe Rob and his team trying to acquire the vaccine for people who are at risk but not getting it. I definitely would love to explore the history, and the present, between him and Marian. As far as how he is such a good marksman, I don’t know that I will ever get into that. It’s part of the legend of Robin Hood, and I like that tiny bit of magic that goes into the character. Some things are better left to the imagination.