This lovely review of Into The Woods popped into my email last night. Did I worry that this review from Charlie's Angels fan and faithful SPBMer Jenni Newman would constitute some form of conflict of interest seeing as Into The Woods is Stace's project and I illustrated a strip in it? Did I f... no I didn't. Take it away, Russ...
Into the Woods – A Fairytale Anthology
It wasn’t until recently that I re-opened my Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales book, not just for the pure joy of reading and not to read to my children (I have none so that would be awkward). No, for me re-reading Hans Christian Andresen is research for my solo directing debut for the musical titled Honk! The Ugly Duckling Musical.
Others have been returning to fairy tales also and by doing so they have created an anthology of twists on originals, re-telling old tales or just plain new fairy tales for a modern audience. ‘Into the Woods’ is this anthology and I have been hearing about it for a little while now thanks to its editor Stacey Whittle, and looking forward to getting it. I am a lover of fairy tales and folk tales alike; whether they are by Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm or Disney’s spin on all of them. I have grown up with them and loved them all.
Getting ‘Into the Woods’ was on my to do list once it was available and this weekend (3rd March) it arrived, I ripped open the envelope relaxed, still in bed on a Saturday morning, cup of tea to the side of me and started reading. The opening tale Red Riding Hood has a nice twist to a classic, in the space of five pages (an amount of pages for all of the tales in the anthology) writer Rich McAuliffe and artist Sara Dunkerton tell a reduced spin on Little Red Riding Hood making it just that bit darker by the end of its fifth page. The art, especially the wolf, was as lovely as the tale was dark and disturbing by its end.
‘A Time For a Change’ the tale of a once worshipped giant now no longer revered as a God does not understand why he has been forgotten about by people, a question that many religions may ask today. ‘A Time for a Change’ is another well told and illustrated tale.
I could write about all of the tales in this anthology and this could become one long spoiler, and that’s not the point of me writing this ‘review’. No, I would rather finish by telling you my last two favourite tales in the anthology. The first being ‘The Madness from the Sea’ not only did I love the artwork throughout this five page tale, well done Lee Grice, but the story itself. A retelling of Pandora’s Box set in Victorian times the black and white artwork, which runs through the entire book, added more to this tale. Its darkness mixed with a dark time line that loved the macabre and horror stories really added to it. Pandora’s Box is a tale that never ceases to teach us the dangers of curiosity but also the strength of hope. As many evils as there may be released or within the world there is always that little glimmer of hope that we all hold onto that gives us strength, somehow.
Finally the last of the pieces that I favoured, not only that but for me this final piece stood out from the book. ‘Amber and the Egg’ I loved this, I am all ready a fan of Bevis Musson, the artist of this tale, in fact I have his artwork framed and ready to be hung on my wall at home. However it was not just Bevis’ clean lined art that I adored about this tale but the story itself. Nic Papaconstantinou has written a lovely script that really did warm me, weird I’m sure to some but it did. Am I an overly sentimental sort of gal? Yes, I am, I’ll cry at a Disney film, sometimes a TV advert can grab me, yes quite pathetic but I can live with that. This is not to say that ‘Amber and the Egg’ brought tears to my eyes but it made me smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside, it is the lightest all of the tales in the book which are far more macabre and on the Brothers Grimm end of the fairy tale spectrum where as this is more towards Hans Christensen Andersen. I love the macabre tales I do but ‘Amber and the Egg’ was the perfect way to end the anthology, things were pretty heavy throughout the book but ended happily and with hope by the end and also the tease of a sequel to hear more about Jack – the Jack I hope with a beanstalk and all. Praise must also go to Filip Roncone for the lettering of ‘Amber and the Egg’ clear and concise, complimenting the artwork. I also thought that Amber’s dad was just a bit of a stud, well done Bevis!
Overall ‘Into the Woods’ is a wonderful collection of writers and artists work that is a joy to read and absorb. A round of applause must go to its editor Stacey Whittle the clever lady who brought these talented people together to create this anthology. I would highly recommend any one to read this book whether you are a fan of comics or fairytales it doesn’t matter which of these you are so long as you get yourself a copy of this book. I will be passing my copy on to friends to borrow and try out, and then I’ll tell them where they can buy their own copy to cherish. My hope is that this is only volume one and that there will be a second volume to ‘Into the Woods’ as there are so many tales to tell whether they be old or new, there are always stories to be told and an audience waiting to hear them.
Congratulations to all involved with ‘Into the Woods’ a job very well done and a true labour of love.
One final thing...is it just me or does the character of Mr. Richards in ‘The Lang Pack’ look an awful lot like Nicholas Cage?