As with any collection with so many creators on board, reader mileage will vary from story to story, but the sheer volume of talent on board for the Chris Duffy edited “Fairy Tale Comics,” ensures that there’s something great for everyone, no matter the preference.
The approaches vary in these stories, with many of the creators doing a very traditional retelling of a story in their own personal style (Brett Helquist’s “Rumplestiltskin,” Graham Annable’s “Goldilocks and The Three Bears”, and Jillian Tamaki’s “Baba Yaga”). Others take more creative license in one way or another, updating the tales a bit for modern audiences (Gigi D.G.’s “Little Red Riding Hood”, Vanessa Davis’ “Puss in Boots” and Karl Kerschl’s “Breman Town”). Both approaches work well, largely thanks to the sheer level of talent leveled at each tale.
There’s really not a weak story in the bunch, though there are some standouts, which for me, tended to be the stories that updated their classic tales — both in subtle and large ways. Vanessa Davis’s “Puss in Boots” manages to take a story that has always been a bit odd and make it both funny and approachable with her loose aggressive art and humorous writing style. In Gigi D.G.’s highly stylized “Little Red Riding Hood” she makes the “Huntsman” a buff chick lumberjack, thus adding a whole new dimension to the well-known tale. Similarly, Emily Carroll writes a very small change into the last panels of her lovely re-imagining of “The 12 Dancing Princesses” that makes all the difference in the world. It’s the kind of tweak that makes the entire story palatable and relevant to a modern generation of readers without sacrificing the point and even “soul” of the original story.
Other standouts include Joseph Lambert’s “Rabbit Will Not Help” based on the “Bre’r Rabbit” fable which Lambert manages to make hilarious, adorable and modern all at once, while still relaying a classic and yet totally fresh version of Bre’r Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Lambert’s approach to the story makes me wish he’d embark on a whole book of fairy tale re-imaginings. Similarly Karl Kerschl’s “Breman Town” totally maintains the spirit of the original story but his exceptional visuals and the tiny modifications he makes to the story, give it exactly the fresh coat of paint it needs to feel new again.
I’ve always been a huge fan of both Fairy Tales and their adaptations into different media. However I’ve learned the hard way that those responsible for the re-imagining matters a lot when it comes to how well they actually work. Editor Chris Duffy has assembled a truly spectacular array of talent for this volume, and I can only hope that future editions will follow.