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Far Out Fairy Tales: Five Full-Color Graphic Novels Paperback – April 1, 2016
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About the Author
Louise Simonson writes about monsters, science fiction and fantasy characters, and superheroes. She wrote the award-winning Power Pack series, several best-selling X-Men titles, Web of Spider-man for Marvel Comics, and Superman: Man of Steel and Steel for DC Comics. She has also written many books for kids. She is married to comic artist and writer Walter Simonson and lives in the suburbs of New York City.
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1. Ninja-rella by Joey Comeau (Omar Lozano) - The art is wonderful. It's very angular, bold and colourful! The story is very similar to the Perrault tale we are all familiar with few exceptions but the theme. Cinderella is into being a ninja and changes her name after her mum dies. She practices all the time with a glass Katana sword. After being orphaned the steps treat her as we expect but the story changes when Ninja-rella dreams of going to the ball so she can meet the prince and become his personal bodyguard! Thankfully, her Godninja shows up just in time. Cute! (4/5)
2. Red Riding Hood, Superhero by Otis Frampton - I was thrilled to see this comic by the author of the "Oddly Normal" series. Of course, the art is great and there are lots of funny moments of dialogue. This retelling totally refreshes the original. The only basic element the same is in which Red named Ruby, is on her way to see her Granny and intercepted by the Big Bad Wolf. However, BBW is out to kidnap Granny who just happens to be the President of the United States. The story is full of action as she takes on Professor Grimm, a man who was bitten by a radioactive wolf, now a werewolf. We even get a flasback to Riding Hood's origin story of her superpowers which reside in the cape/hood and it's pretty cute. Another fun tale for the intended audience. (4/5)
3. Super Billy Goats Gruff by Sean Tulien (Fernando Cano) - This one is hilarious. Only slightly keeps some basic elements of the original tale. The three goats set off over the hill to find some grass to eat and end up eating three strange shaped mushrooms which zap them straight into a video game. All the essential video game tropes ensue including fighting level bosses until they beat the creature on the bridge and return to their own world. Another example of wonderful art similar in style to the previous stories. My favourite so far. (5/5)
4. Snow White and the Seven Robots by Louise Simonson (Jimena Sanchez) - Overall, this is the best written story in the book but my least favourite art. The style is completely different, which makes it stand out in a collection like this and it just doesn't do anything for me. The story, however, is well-told and the most entertaining here. It stays very close to the original tale, without much deviation except it has been set in outer space on an alien planet, Techworld. Also, it's not Snow's beauty which causes envy but her intelligence. I really enjoyed this one! (5/5)
5. Hansel & Gretel & Zombies by Benjamin Harper (Fernando Cano) - This is just silly. It doesn't follow the original story much as you would probably expect, what with everybody being zombies. However, all the plot points are there: being lost in the forest, the candy house, Hansel being plumped up, etc. It has a nice happy ending for everybody including the witch. My least favourite story in the collection but the art is by the same artist as the "Billy Goats" story so it is good. (3/5)
"Ninja-rella" was written by Joey Comeau, which is particularly intriguing given his status as a successful writer of adult fiction, YA horror, experimental fiction, and the web comic "The Softer Side". With that kind of resume, what kind of Cinderella do we get from Comeau? Well, this Cinderella isn't going to stand idly by while the world passes her. Her dream is to train herself up to become Ninja-rella and to one day serve as the Prince's personal bodyguard. This is a fairy tale heroine for a modern girl. But Comeau plays fair. He tweaks the story but stays within the traditional outlines. This isn't a different story so much as it is a different kind of Cinderella. And it works. We cheer Ninja-rella's hard work, training, independence and courage and we root for her to succeed. That's a pretty sharp way to rethink Cinderella.
In "Red Riding Hood", Otis Frampton, (the author of a number of successful middle grade graphic novels, including the "Oddly Normal" series), does a nice job of crafting a whiz bang tale that incorporates both obvious and sly references to the original. Here, Red has a alien-tech red cape that affords her awesome super powers. She's visiting granny, but granny happens to be the President of the United States. The villain is a werewolf. And so on. More subtle jokes turn on things like Red's military contact being General "Huntsman". There's lots of action. The drawing is a bit cartoonish, but sort of high-end cartoonish, being both colorful and effective.
"Three Billy Goats". So it looks like our author, Sean Tulien, sort of got the short straw when Stone Arch Books handed out the fairy tales for its "Far Out Fairy Tales" series, because Three Billy Goats Gruff has always struck me as one of the less compelling of the classic fairy tales. But, by opting to treat the three goats as videogame heroes working through different levels of a castle in order to confront the big boss Troll, Tulien has managed to inject some energy and sly fun into the tale.
"Snow White and the Seven Robots". SPOILERS. We still have Snow being exiled by the wicked Queen. But she's sent to an asteroid and is rescued by robots. There's a poison something and cryogenic suspension. There's a princey kind of hero. So, it's pretty much the story we know, translated into a funky high-tech space age. That's all pretty interesting and all of the updates would probably be clear to even an early reader.
"Hansel & Gretel". This one is all over the place. Hansel and Gretel are zombies, which pretty much undermines the original tale, (zombies don't eat gingerbread). Never fear, our author spins just as good an alternate version.
This is fresh and upbeat stuff. It is not cynical or edgy, and the authors embrace the positive vibe and go with it. This is all enhanced by the drawing, which is crisp, colorful and vaguely manga, (with big eyes, button noses and simple compositions). Just like the story telling, the art is brisk and direct. These are supposed to be books for younger readers. Indeed, the books in the series could easily be the first graphic novels a young, (7 to 10-ish), kid reads. They succeed admirably on that score.
(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Ninja-rella doesn't want to marry the prince, she wants to become his awesome bodyguard. Red Riding Hood is a superhero who gets power from her hood. The Billy Goats Gruff have to go through a video game to find something to eat. You get the picture.
My favorite part of all of this is there is a summary page giving the history of the original tale, like when it was written or when famous variants got added to the story (the pumpkin carriage in Cinderella, for example). There is also a nice comparison on some stories of the original characters and their 'Far Out' personas.
The creators are all really good. From Louise Simonson (Power Pack) to Otis Frampton (Oddly Normal) and many others, these are writers familiar with writing good comics for kids. They deliver and it's even fun for grown ups like me to read.
I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Capstone, Stone Arch Books, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.
Received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.