Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Fairy Tale Comics

 When Nursery Rhyme Comics was released by First Second at the end of 2011, editor Chris Duffy knocked it out of the park. Duffy and company have returned with Fairy Tale Comics and utilizing the same elements that worked for it's predecessor this book looks like it should achieve just as much critical success.
  Just as in Nursery Ryhme Comics, Duffy has put together a broad cast of illustrators and storytellers displaying a broad swath of stylized art and story selection. The approach to the story material itself is unique, like in Raina Telgemeier's (Smile) take on Rapunzel where the setting is quickly set with little explanation, the action moves quickly and the resolution is done even faster- a funny take to  what is an authentic model of a fairy tale when you think about it.
Snow White (and the evil queen) by Jaime Hernandez.
 The book is full of the classics, Hansel and Gretel, Puss in Boots, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears to name a few. But there are stories in there that may not be familiar to many readers, giving them something new to discover and enjoy.  Stories like Give Me the Shudders, Azzolino's Story Without End, The Boy Who Drew Cats and The Small-Tooth Dog. Of these undiscovered gems, two stories stood out to me. The first was The 12 Dancing Princesses, a story of  trickery, a noble prince, wisdom, princesses and an element of danger. Done by Emily Carroll, the story has a colorful, painted look to it, with a look reminiscent of - but not copying- artists like Ben Towle and Faith Erin Hicks. The second newly-discovered fairly tale that stood out to me was The Prince and the Tortoise by Ramon Fradon (creator of DC's Metamorpho) and Chris Duffy (the editor of this collection). Fradon makes the story look like an Archie comic, which is a good thing, because it is about beautiful women marrying handsome young princes and the women's efforts to out-charm, out-cook, and just plain out-wow a tortoise.
Graham Annable's take on the three bears.
 The brevity of the stories, the variety of art, and the humor captured in the stories gives the reader something new and different to each page, making this a thoroughly enjoyable book from beginning to end for practically anyone of any age. And you will find something new to enjoy with a second and third reading and- well, hopefully you get the idea.
Brett Helquist's beautifully penciled colors.
 Another great aspect of the book is that eight women contributed to this project- showing a continued broadening of the comic book and graphic novel market.
 Fairy Tale Comics hit the shelves on Sept. 24 with a cover price of $19.99 for 176 pages of color.

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