By Various Authors, Chris Duffy. Ed.
Author’s website: http://comicbooksareinteresting.blogspot.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Scott
A fable is a short narrative usually encompassing a moral. After Aesop, they also usually contain anthropomorphized animals. But different cultures have different catalogues of stories such as these passed down from generation to generation, mostly by word of mouth. Just recently, fables have become popular again, and Fable Comics takes full advantage of it. Getting a cross section of some of the best in comic artists, Fable Comics lets the artist go crazy providing there is a moral to the story. This leads to some rather eclectic renditions of these classic narratives.
Letting the artist go free spins a fresh post-modern twist on classic fables and allows them to let their creativity shine through and some rather unique endings. Twist endings were allowed providing a moral had to be told. These range from the classical interpretation of the tale, to “Artists are Stupid, Art is Dead, Everyone’s a Critic” (some of my all-time favorites). Maris Wicks uses her biology background to elucidate and educate on sea mammals. In “The Dolphin, The Whale and the Sprat,” and James Kochalka pulls out all the traditional stops in “The Fox and the Grapes.” These twists almost seemed necessary to propel the graphic novel forward, but with the traditional morals mixed in, it turned out to be a refreshing mix (although I would have changed a bit of the ordering of the fables).
I have to admit, from personal experience, that letting the artist go wild is not necessarily a good thing. Some of the Fables were cute, but contrived; others left you yawning in boredom, wanting to skip ahead to the next one. It’s a good thing fables are generally short. The roster of artists is also in a distinctly American style, cartoonish with few exceptions. This is not a bad thing, however, I would have preferred a more culturally diverse drawing style, but for what the book was trying to convey, it suited me fine.
There are a few gems in the lot. Jaime Hernandez does a spectacular job with “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” Roger Langridge handles “”Democles and His Fable” with grace and flair, Shelli Pardline gracefully pens “The Thief and the Watchdog,” and George O’Conner renders in a prince Valiant type manner, the various “Hermes” tales. My personal favorite was R. Sikoryak’s Krazy Kat rendition of “The Lion and the Mouse.” It really spoke in the words and depictions of the famous George Harriman cartoon strip. Skillfully rendered in Harriman’s style, the moral at the end left me giggling inanely for minutes, at passing gags, and the stereotypical morphing backgrounds that Krazy Kat was noted for.
If you are a fan of Aesop you will not want to miss this collection. Fable Comics has something for everyone, and the diverse art will defiantly have you lustering after any new artists you come across (or already know, there are a few New York Times artists here). With it’s easy to read format, hopefully you will learn yourself a moral or two.