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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists Review and Interviews

Some of your favorite cartoonists come together for

Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists

Chris Duffy brings back the old-school stories you may have grown up with as a kid that now have talking fruit or Disney animals in it as the main characters. It does have talking animals but they aren't from Disney in another attempt to get merchandise. Chris Duffy as editor, brought some of his favorite indie illustrators and artists and gave them classic stories to reshape in their own way. No tale is too long for both comic book aficionados and the children they might want to show and read the stories off too.

The stories are thoughtfully illustrated by 23 different artists each in a different and unique way. Though safer for younger kids you can still feel the old Grimm Brothers dark endings. A mention of a killing or the pain of dying of hunger are touched upon but never really seen. Sort of like a network sensor working behind the scenes.

My favorite tales had to be The Prince and the Tortoise that takes from older comic book styles and has a man marrying a tortoise. The dung soup in the story let's for a laugh. I don't want to ruin where the comes into play, let's just say a contest of the best daughter is part of it.

For those trying to get their tykes into comics or trying to share a medium with them it's perfect for a book to drift off into a nice dream. You reading it to them or they reading it to you.


First Second Books gave me a chance to interview some of the cartoonists from the book who are based in LA with a few questions about their stories.

Sweet Porridge by Bobby London

Why choose the tale Sweet Porridge? It's not the most well-known story?

 I don't usually illustrate other people's stories but it was editor Chris Duffy's choice  and such good fit for me, I couldn't say no. It has everything I like in a children's fable, namely oatmeal and men with Emo Phillips haircuts. The obscurity angle is fantastic, nobody can accuse me of ruining it if nobody's ever read it before. Also, it makes me the first cartoonist to illustrate it, I finally get to something  before Crumb, Spiegelman or Walt Disney. 

Is the story much darker in the original tale? Much of the time Grimm stories are.

It was very cheerful story until  I got my hands on it. Seriously, it was  depressing, with a sadistic ending; in other words, business as usual for Los Bros. Grimm. It's a story about hunger and starvation, so quite naturally,  my editor thought of me. Considering all the rich American politicians out there who want to outlaw food stamps, the theme is quite contemporary but I did not update it in any way,  I did not draw any of the characters fighting  bubble gum card space aliens from the 1950s or anything like that. However, I did do some research on my own and found many of those old  stories to be quite brutal, sexist and racist (perfect stories for 21st Century adults) and,certainly, with my drawing style, knowing my audience like I do and the low regard held for me in the comic book community,   I felt obligated to make some changes and think I made all the right calls in adapting this story for modern juvenile readers. And, let's face it,  there are worse things in this world than altering a Grimm Brothers tale for comics, like censoring Huckleberry Finn or banning The Diary Of Ann Frank from your school's reading curriculum. 

Why use humans in story? Many other cartoonist chose animals.
Well, there are no talking animals in this story and, believe it or not,  I worked hard to stay true to the spirit of the original. Besides,  as many grownups know - and are probably loathe to admit - my main character  has been a cigar-smoking duck as I have been creating, writing and drawing the Dirty Duck comic strip for the original National Lampoon and Playboy for the past 42 years. Being in National Lampoon was a lot like having the Brothers Grimm for your editors  so I'm not averse to working with medieval thinkers but, having created one talking animal strip that is already regarded in certain literary circles (trans: "college fraternity houses")  as being a classic, I have no desire to draw another. I did give the kids in Sweet Porridge a dog, a one-eyed dachshund, in tribute to my late dog, Bella, a 13 year-old rescue who slept under my drawing board and passed away not long after I finished this story, but she doesn't talk. And, yes,  I know there are no one-eyed dachshunds in Grimm Brothers, but I wanted people to say, "Hey, he put his dog in a comic book!"

Hansel and Gretel by Gilbert Hernandez

I'm kind of amazed at how much you didn't differ from the original story, why play it so low-key. Why play it so old-school with the look of Hansel and Gretel and their world?

I'm an old school storyteller. I feel so many readers young and old respond pretty quickly to reading a comics story when it's simple and direct. And old fashioned to a degree. The more direct approach still works wonders and doesn't date as bad as the way hip, modern looking comics often do . People can still read old PEANUTS comic strips with no problem. 

Is it a favorite of your childhood or do you have story like it from your childhood?

My favorite story from my childhood is probably THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER by Hans Christian Andersen. A love story without a hint of cynical nonsense.

Snow White by Jaime Hernandez

It's seem like a pretty bad deal for Snow White working for the dwarfs, was that how it was in the original?

Pretty much. I had to leave out or tweek some stuff for space reasons, but that part I pretty much left as is.

What was the punishment of the Queen exactly? I barely remember it from the original story and see you put it at the end, but didn't write it out.

In the version I took from, she was forced to wear the special fire shoes until she fell down dead. We kinda left the dead part out for the kiddies.