Graphic novels aren’t really my thing, but I just had to see this one. I love retellings, and this book is an anthology of sci-fi/futuristic re-envisionings of fairy tales and other classic tales, with over ninety contributors from all over the globe. (There are not ninety stories, but individual entries often have multiple credits, including writers, illustrators, colorists, and letterers.)
Unfortunately for me personally, some of my very favorite stories only were re-imagined as only one-page or double-page visual images. But oh how beautiful they are, and what worlds of meaning they suggest, as you can see from the illustrations reproduced below. This category of visuals-only includes Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and The Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast, and Pygmalian.
The full (albeit short) stories are incredibly varied. One Thousand One Nights is adorable, and a perfect choice to begin the collection. Hansel and Gretel, the last story, amazed me with its inventiveness. And in between those anchors, there are all kinds of stories depicted in a wide variety of comic styles.
The editor did a great job with his arrangement. For example, Sweet Porridge was preceded by The Three Little Pigs, and followed by The Gingerbread Man – very apt choices!
Evaluation: For those who love graphic novels and comics generally, this is like a Las Vegas buffet with so many choices you wish you had remembered to pack your ziplock baggies. Well, with this book, you can sample one of everything, and keep it with you!
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t note that there is nothing in the compilation that even approaches the intellectual and visual graphic achievement of Jeremy Love in his gripping Bayou series with its interrogation of power and race relations in the American South.
Comics can be subversive and worldview-shattering, serving as remarkably effective exposés of injustice, inequality, and socially dominant myths that could use upending. Or, they can merely delight with the glimpse they provide at the possibilities of vivid imaginations. This collection falls into the latter category.
Rating: I’m not rating this, because I’m still not a graphic novel aficionado, preferring my retellings to be in the form of long, involved narratives. But I can appreciate all the skill and imagination that went into this book, and think it would make a fantastic gift for fans of the genre!
And if what follows isn’t the most amazing “preview” of a book you’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is!!!
Published by Dark Horse Books, 2012