Culture and the Medieval King
University of Northern Iowa: April 13, 2007
The Noble Eightfold Path to Camelot: Samsara and Nirvana in Camelot 3000
Matt Bloom, University of Northern Iowa
Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland’s graphic novel Camelot 3000 tells the story of King Arthur and his knights’ return in the year 3000. The majority of the characters have all undergone the process of reincarnation; their souls reside in new bodies, oftentimes quite different from the ones they knew when they first served with Arthur. Reunited with their king, the knights attempt to not only
defend Earth from Morgan Le Fay and her alien army, but to build a bright new Camelot which will encompass the whole world. This effort ultimately proves futile, however, as the baggage of the knights’ past lives continuously weigh them down, causing them to repeat past sins and to sabotage present endeavors.
The struggles that the knights experience in their new lives serves as a metaphor for samsara, the process of rebirth taught in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. In samsara, a person is continuously reborn into new lives, with the ultimate goal being to eventually shrug off worldly attachments and attain a blissful state of existence sometimes referred to as nirvana. For the Knights of the Round Table, that nirvana is Camelot itself, and their attachments to their own pasts are what prevents a new Camelot from being realized in the year 3000.
This paper will examine this metaphor in depth, looking especially at the over-attachment to the past found in Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, Morgan Le Fay and Modred. And to provide contrast, it will also examine the development of Tristan, the only character in Camelot 3000 who manages to let go of her past and subsequently find a form of bliss previously unobtainable to her.
2007 Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture and American Culture Associations
April 4 - 7, 2007
Boston Marriott Copley Place
The Symbiosis of Norse and Medieval Christian Eschatology in DC Vertigo’s Lucifer Series
Katherine Allocco, Western Connecticut State University
(Presented under the Medieval Popular Culture Area)