One of the early, successful comic book Kickstarter projects was Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos’s “Fairy Quest,” which funded an original 48-page hardcover graphic novel. While they’ve been selling copies on their website since then, it’s only now that “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” has offered the story as single issues. So with that in mind, how well does “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” #1 work in presenting the first half of the graphic novel?
All in all, pretty well. The story itself is pleasant, showing the world of Fablewood where Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf have a distinctly different friendship than seen in the fairy tales. But before you start to worry about any potential similarities, a quick note that “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” #1 takes a distinctly different take than “Fables” on the idea of these characters being real. “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” #1 is a construct where Grimm is an actual person who tries to lock all of the different characters into their assigned roles regardless of how they feel, and the punishment for rebellion is severe. It’s a good hook, one that readers of almost all ages will quickly grab onto and get pulled into the story.
Characterization is a little slight in places, but that’s actually part of the reason why “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” #1 works. By using characters that the reader should be familiar with, the reader will automatically start filling in the blanks on their own unless instructed otherwise by Jenkins. It lets Jenkins focus on the differences rather than worrying about what we already know, and it also gives him more room for plotting. If this was part of a 128-page graphic novel, then a little more time to linger over the character notes would’ve been understandable, but “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” #1 moves at a brisk pace.
I’ll admit that I was worried when on the second page, we meet Little Red Riding Hood and she’s cross-eyed while skipping through the forest and singing. Ramos’s art seemed a little too exaggerated and for an initial impression, that’s not good. Within a couple of pages, though, Ramos seems to have slightly toned down the over-the-top nature of the art (right around the time that Grimm shows up), and the visuals feel much more solid. In general, I like the angular style he brings to the characters, and he does an especially nice job on the panel-to-panel transitions. When the Big Bad Wolf’s been captured by the hunters (per the original fairy tale), the scene of Red and the Wolf together is kept from being visually boring by Ramos shifting the angle from one panel to the next and zooming in at times to help emphasize the emotions going through the characters’ heads. Props also need to go to Leonardo Olea, whose colors help bring a fairy tale quality to “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” #1.
Last but not least, it feels like Jenkins and Ramos had planned for the eventuality right from the start, offering up a natural break-point halfway through so that “Fairy Quest: Outlaws” #1 wouldn’t end in mid-stream. A lot is still going to hinge on the second half of this story, but for now I’m entertained. It’s not deep, but it’s enough fun to want to see how this wraps up.