Each week, the non-comics reading Nina Stone picks out one random comic book based off her own made up criteria, reads it, and then writes about that experience. While she's been doing these columns for awhile, she's only successfully managed to enjoy, remember, and keep up with one series. This week, she picked Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love # 1.
This one is right up my alley, but not necessarily on the story alone. It's the whole idea that I'm a big fan of. I don't even know what you call this type of story--but yeah, I guess I'm into it. It's not just a modern day version of a fairy tale, that description doesn't cover how clever I felt this Cinderalla story came across.
It's sort of like watching someone do a puzzle, a puzzle that has an unknown solution. I love when an artist can make those kind of things fit, and they certainly did here. All the pieces of the story just started to fit together perfectly. Personal disclaimer: I write music for children. Every now and then I take a story book and put it to music, or I get the kids to tell me their favorite subject matter and put that into a song. And it's always so cool when lyrics, rhythm, style, sing-ability all fit together into the perfect package. You feel like that song was there all along just waiting for you to sing it.
I wouldn't even know how one goes about gets started making comics, but Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love made me feel like I was reading somebody who knew exactly how to do it, somebody who knew how to make the "puzzle" of a fairy tale character & a contemporary setting work. I was hooked from the first page where the dialog reads: "Everyone knows my story. I get dressed up. The clock strikes twelve. I lose a shoe." But what's being illustrated is dressed up Cinderella in a serious fight, losing her shoe after kicking the gun out of some guy's hand, and then them both falling down passing a large clock reading midnight. I flip the page to learn that Cinderella is a spy. And I just had to find out how else they tie the fairy tale to this story line.
You know what? I never found myself disappointed or wishing they'd been a little more clever. Nope, not once. (If that sounds like I was expecting to be disappointed, it's only because last week had me a little wary of another gross comic, and it didn't help that the people at the store told me that this past week "was a light one", meaning that there wasn't a lot to choose from.) I loved that she's a divorcee who 'the fairy tale" didn't really work for. I love that she owns a shoe store called The Glass Slipper. And, yes, I'm going to have to check out "Fables" because I love the idea that there's a magical place -- somewhat like Hogwarts? -- where all the Fairy Tale and Fable characters exist. And yet the also exist in the "Mundy" world (Muggles?). I'm sure Mundy is short for mundane. One can't help seeing a few Harry Potter similarities. But you know what, when you compare stories about magical lands and magical places, it's likely that they'll have stuff in common.
Anyhow. Loved that the former guy to give Cindy her "marching orders" was Bigby Wolf (Big Bad Wolf! I get it!). And now it's Beast, from Beauty and the Beast. It's pretty clever (and kind of hilarious) that there's a whole complex full of elderly, magical people....like somewhere one might find a Fairy Godmother living. And then Puss n Boots, and the mouse and the bird? I'm just loving this stuff. And like I was mentioning early, Chris Roberson has found a way that it all works together. It's so clever, and cute. I got worried at the end and am wondering what will happen next. That hasn't happened in a while.
And hey, I didn't mean to neglect the art. Sorry. (This is a long one too. I think i'm getting carried away!) I've slowly become a fan of Oeming and the art is similar to his. That style will always draw me. This book has quite a bit more going on in each page - from the number of frames to the colors, and it all supports and expands the story. There's an "old" cartoon-y feel, and it felt like it matched up well with fairy tales and fables. I mean, the picture of Puss-In-Boots looks like it could have come out of a storybook (that's a compliment), and the Beast had a Disney-esque appearance. At no time was I distracted by the art, and that's something that's happened a bit lately. In other comics I've had problems with the way certain body parts were drawn or how a woman was contorted into a position that would not be humanely possible. Sometimes it's just with facial expressions that don't seem to emotionally match what's going on in the story, but none of those problems came up this time around. I looked to the pictures for information that the words might not be giving me and vice versa.
People, I'm going to go out on a limb and say something that I don't think I've said before. Here it goes. "I can see myself keeping up with this one." Yep. I can. I enjoyed it that much. I'm interested in seeing both how Roberson will tie the various Fairy Tale characters together, and I'm interested in seeing what happens next in this story.
PS. After I wrote this, I was told that this is a spin-off story from Fables, a comic that's already got 13 of those book collections. I don't know if I'll make time to read those or not...it's already a bit of a crunch just managing the once-a-week thing I'm doing right now. But I will say that hearing that made me like this comic even more, because I never felt confused, I never felt like I was missing something, and yet--13 books! That's a lot of comics.
-Nina Stone, 2009