Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

FablesFables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham

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I’ll tell you, without Sandman being a part of comics anymore, it’s been hard for me to get interested in a lot of the modern stories.  They seem to be lacking in a lot of areas, particularly in the depth and resonance of the stories.  Vertigo has gone from indicating quality, and more toward indicating “dark,” or “gritty.”  They aren’t necessarily good, though.

Fables has caught my attention.  It may not replace Sandman as my favorite comic, but it’s filling the appropriate niche for me.  The premise of the story is that all of the characters from fable and fairy tales are real, and they’re living in New York City.  The human characters (Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, etc.), live among the real people, but they never age or grow, and they’re constantly on watch for being exposed.  The non-human characters (the three pigs, the three blind mice, the dish and the spoon), all live at the Farm, out of necessity.  The premise allows for some wild and interesting stories, and Bill Willingham takes many liberties with the traditional fairy tale characters to great success (Goldilocks turns out to be a revolutionary for liberation of the farm in one of the story arcs) .

1001 Nights of Snowfall is a standalone volume that exists outside of the normal chronology, before all of the modern events happen within the world of Fables.  The volume stands as a retelling of our favorite fairy tales, and even includes a few new ones.  Of particular note is the story of the witch, who reveals herself to be the one witch who appears in all of the classic fairy tales.  It’s an interesting origin story for that archetype, and it’s very creative.  Surrounding all of the stories is a retelling of the 1001 Arabian Nights, this time told by Snow White to the Arabian sultan.  In fact, it’s less a retelling than it is a prelude to the stories we think we know so well.

I enjoy the series, but I don’t feel compelled to own them, like I did with Sandman.  The stories don’t seem to maintain the same interest for me outside of the stories themselves.  They don’t resonate with me the same way, and they lack some of the timeless feel that Neil Gaiman brought to his series.  Still, I’ll continue reading the series, since it’s creative and ingenious.  Besides, I’m a sucker for retellings of fairy tales, even in cartoons (“Fractured Faiy Tales,” anyone?).

January 29, 2007 Posted by | Adult Fiction, Graphic Novels | Leave a comment

La Perdida

PerdidaLa Perdida by Jessica Abel

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I don’t know what caught my attention about this graphic novel, but catch my attention it did. It came through the library, and the cover caught my eye enough to get me to start flipping through it, and before I knew it, the bookdrop was being neglected, and I was about a quarter of the way through the story. So, yes, I was hooked.

Abel’s name didn’t ring a bell with me, but she’s a well-respected artist, enough so that Scott “Understanding Comics” McCloud wrote a blurb for the back of the book. La Perdida is the story of Carla, an expatriate from the US whose father was from Mexico, so she goes to Mexico to discover her culture and her roots. She hooks up with an old boyfriend, who introduces her to some other expatriates, who in turn connect her to some revolutionaries. Carla wants to become the real thing in Mexico, and not be just another tourist, so she slowly alienates herself from the expatriates and starts to gravitate toward the revolutionaries. Of course, this doesn’t mean that she necessarily believes in the same things as the revolutionarie; she’s just more interested in fitting in.

The story grows complicated from there, but never becomes too hard to follow.  You might find yourself wanting to yell at Carla, in much the same way you might want to yell at the people on screen in a horror movie.  “Don’t go in there!”, and all that nonsense.  Carla makes some bad decisions throughout the story, and it gets harder and harder to sympathize with her, because she keeps putting herself into these situations.  The only saving grace is that she’s young, and wants to fit in, and we’ve all been in that situation in our lives.  The intrigue and deception helps to add to an already compelling story, but it didn’t resonate with me like I was hoping it would.  It just seemed to be missing something, but I couldn’t tell you what that is.

If nothing else, this is a good example of a mainstream graphic novel, and it shows how standard storytelling benefits from the graphic format.  If you know people who are resistant to accepting the graphic storytelling format, recommend La Perdida to them; it just might win them over through its traditional story.

(And if that doesn’t work, show them A History of Violence.)

January 29, 2007 Posted by | Graphic Novels, Reviews | Leave a comment