Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Frog Prince

Bill Willingham's Fables series of comics may be old news to many of this blog's readers, but we've only just stumbled into it - by picking up a copy of 1001 Nights of Snowfall, a collection of fairy tale retellings and extensions - at times humorous, whimsical, tragic, nightmarish. The story "A Frog's-Eye View," for instance, begins with the princess' marriage to the frog prince. She and her prince find, however, that whenever the prince is excited or fearful, he pops back into his old froggish shape - as when he is told of his new wife's pregnancy:

"Good news, darling, I'm with child."
"Oh, joyous day! I-- ribbit"
"Oh dear, here we go again."

The story quickly takes a darker turn, however, which I will not spoil here for those readers for whom Willingham's Fables may be a surprise.

It is a worthwhile surprise. Told with remarkable wit and storytelling flair, the Fables address their fairy tales in the best of fairy tale tradition - using them to surprise, delight, and to confront the issues that bristle beneath our daily lives: the dysfunctionality of family, coping (or not coping) with trauma, and our knack for spinning tales to make meaning of our losses. I was especially delighted at Willingham's Snow.

Take a look at these extremely recent fairy tales, if you haven't already. And if you have, drop a quick comment here to let other readers know what you thought. We look forward to reading more of the series.


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