An Interview with Jason Kingsley – CEO of Rebellion

When I told  friend I’d secured an interview with Jason Kingsley he was impressed. What did this friend know about Jason?

Well firstly he knew Jason is CEO of Rebellion, the PC Game, Comic and Book publishing company. He knew that Rebellion own 2000AD & Judge Dredd. So he could see exactly why I wanted to interview Jason Kingsley, CEO of Rebellion.

Then I told my friend that the interview would focus on Jousting.

My friend thought I had lost the plot.

But I haven’t. I’m a huge fan of 2000AD and as such I owe Jason many thanks. Together with his brother, Chris, he founded Rebellion in 1992. Their hits include Alien Vs. Predator, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron and Sniper Elite.

In 2000 Rebellion bought 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine from Fleetway. Under their ownership Editor Matt Smith has delivered an outstanding product.

So why interview Jason Kingsley, CEO of Rebellion, the owner of 2000AD about Jousting?

Simple, shared interests – though at different sides of the fence.

I’ve written quite a bit about Jousting on this Forum in connection with Royal Armouries. I was privileged to present the Sword of Honour to this years winner at the Tournament of Champions, Stacy Evans. Stacy is a member of Destrier, a top Jousting team in the UK. Jason is also a member of Destrier. Jason also owns Tournament Stud, a horse breeding stables that specialises in rearing horses for Tournament.

Please be aware that the Jousting I am talking about is unscripted and full contact. They really are striking at each other at speed on horseback .

So you see it was in fact obvious that I’d want to interview Jason about Jousting.

There are a few technical terms in the interview which may need explaining:

  • Harness – a term used for Armour
  • Targe – a shield attached to the left shoulder of a knight and the target aimed for in the Joust.
  • Tilt – the rail or rails that are the area in which a Joust takes place.

Semple –  How did you first become involved in Jousting?

Jason – I’ve been riding horses competitively since I was 8 years old. Long suffering and generous, but foreign holiday free parents to thank for that. I then went to see a historical event at Kelmarsh hall, met some jousting knights from a group called Destrier, went to see them practice and thought I’d like to do that. The rest is what you see and lots of practise.

Semple –  I’d assume it is a great way to get out from the pressures of the modern world. Does it help you relax through the release of adrenalin?

Jason – It helps take my mind off the electronic world and computers and reconnect with the more physical things in life. Sitting round a camp fire in the cold is a wonderful thing. Makes you appreciate hot showers too.

Semple –  What is your heraldry and what is the story behind it for you?

Jason – My heraldry is designed by the College of Arms, and is a unicorn horn to represent my love of horses and mythology, and two jousting lances.

Semple –  What style of harness do you wear?

Jason – I have a Milanese export harness from 1460 ish. The close helmet, an Armet is slightly later, 1480’s

Semple –  Targe shapes and sizes vary quite a bit, what size is yours and would you prefer them to be more standardised or is the variety all part of the individualism of each rider?

Jason – Mine is quite small and in need a lot of repairs. It also needs to be painted better but it does seem to get very bashed each season. If I was using solid lances I’d have a bigger one. (Semple the end part of the lance is designed to shatter and the amount of breakage is important, hence it not being ‘solid’)

Semple –  I’ve worn helms on occasion and understand the sight restrictions. Is it true that the movement of the horse as you approach the tilt actually slightly increases your field of vision?

Jason – Not noticed that myself, but my focus does narrow down to the target I’m trying to hit with the lance tip, I never notice the other lance at all, until it hits me.

Semple –  What style of helm do you prefer, and why?

Jason – An armet with a solid wrapper that protects my face and throat, based on the ‘battle of san romano’ painting. It shouldn’t be able to open up no matter what impact happens, but it is heavy and restrictive.

Semple –  If someone were just starting out in Jousting what sort of monetary outlay is there for harness, helm and other essential equipment?

Jason – Safe harness would probably cost about 8K to buy, but you could probably get away with cheaper stuff, off the peg, to begin with. I’ve seen people jousts in very little armour, but that is just crazy to me.

Semple –  What is your pre-tournament routine?

Jason – Usually involves arming up in front of an audience which is an issue as what I’m putting on is safety equipment and ideally you don’t want too many distractions. Then I just get on with it. No routine that I can think of.

Semple –  Do you have a favourite horse and if so what in particular do you like about him/her?

Jason – Yes I have my own horse, and I usually joust on Warlord, as well as spend my weekends riding out with him too across the Northamptonshire countryside when I can

Semple –  If you have to Joust on an unfamiliar horse how easily do you usually find it to be accustomed to the stranger beneath you?

Jason – I’ve been riding a long time, so a new horse isn’t too much trouble, the main issue is speed. Warlord goes very fast, other go much slower so that changes my lance lowering timing. Sometimes takes a couple of runs to get your eye in.

Semple –  I am a regular at the Jousts at the Royal Armouries which sadly are less common since the cutbacks hit. I can’t recall seeing you there but there what are your thoughts on that event?

Jason – They used to be much more grand and involve more teams. They were fun to be involved with but I imagine quite expensive to run. Very authentic though and educational too. I guess things have got a lot tougher in the recession.

Semple –  I’d love to see the return of team events at the Royal Armouries, as well as keeping single Knights and bringing other skills to the Tournament such as Poll Axe and Sword on Foot. Are there any events you’d like to see there?

Jason – I think authenticity is key, but entertaining authenticity, so Poll Axe, perhaps mounted club tourney. It shouldn’t be a circus, but it can be a fun, tournament spirit and real competition too.

Semple –  Sadly I don’t get to many Jousting events beyond the Armouries, if people can do so which would you say are the best three events to attend in the UK?

Jason – Make sure they are ones that are unscripted and authentic. English heritage do good one mostly and look out for the Destrier name. There are entertaining ‘medieval style pageant jousts’ with a white knight and a black knight that are fun theatre, but they owe more to Hollywood of old than history of old.

Semple –  Stacy Evans describes Jousting as “The Original Extreme Sport’ – do you agree and what would be your own snappy description be?

Jason – Yup, that was probably my line, and I’d agree with Stacy. I imagine people from all walks of life enjoyed watching the wealthy beat themselves up on horseback. Some have said that Jousting was more popular than football back in its heyday. I’ve tried to explain the sport as a bit like playing golf on a skateboard whilst wearing very heavy clothes, and having someone else trying to hit you at the same time. It’s hard to explain, and probably even harder to do right.

Semple –  Why is there a distinct lack of Jousting in 2000AD?

Jason – You’ll have to ask Tharg that, I’m merely an underling.

Semple –  Is there anything about Jousting that you’ve never been asked?

Jason – Not that I an think of. Usual questions are ‘is it hot?’, ‘does it hurt?’, ‘is it hard?’, ‘do you enjoy it?’, and the answer is yes to all of those.

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