Friday, September 19, 2014

Review - Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Witches #1

"Long ago when the sparrows still flew as this as the night, in a land so remote the king had yet to claim it, there lived a young woman."

Fairy tales have the ability to both tell a story and offer up a lesson from said story. The form of the actual story doesn't really matter; what matters most to many is whether or not there's a moral that can be learned. Many fairy tales deal with our interactions with one another and with our planet and more often than not the planet isn't quite keen on some of our decisions. That's the case in Jim Henson's The Storyteller Witches #1 from Archaia, written, illustrated and lettered by S.M. Vidaurri.

When her brother is kidnapped by a witch, a young princess must venture into the mysterious forest beyond the castle. There, the Lord of the Forest, an armor clad spirit who watches over the wilderness, comes to her aid, but the princess must rely on her wits to discover who she can trust before her family is cursed forever. This comes after a trying time for their family and uncertainty over who will rule.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller Witches #1 recounts "The Magic Swan Goose and the Lord of the Forest," a story loosely based on "The Magic Swan Geese." Even without the fairy tale influence, the book feels extremely endearing and the Jim Henson influences shine through. Vidaurri's writing style is rhythmic at points, giving the story the appropriate cadence and childish feel. The point of view used for recounting the story offers up a good bit of childhood innocence that's truly effective at capturing the essence of a fairy tale. Henson was definitely a master of his craft and Vidaurri does an exceptional job translating that into the story.

Archaia is known for well thought out and put together books and Jim Henson's The Storyteller Witches #1 is certainly no exception. Everything about it screams tradition and Vidaurri is fantastic at adapting the story into images. And Vidaurri doesn't rely on traditional comic bubbles to convey the story either; instead, she makes the dialogue feel organic and native to the action occurring on the pages. In this regard, she blends the words into the background illustrations as a means of making the story about the importance of preserving the environment feel more natural. Additionally, the book carries with it a painted quality that makes it feel more storied than it actually is, helping to invoke nostalgia that comes along with coming across an old copy of a familiar tale.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller was very successful a few years ago when Archaia first published it and Jim Henson's The Storyteller Witches #1 is a worthy successor to the name that maintains the perfect spirit. It draws upon the concept that even those deemed young can have the wisdom of someone much older. Vidaurri's take on the story is very even and well-paced, unfolding to the reader with an eye toward respecting the source material. Likewise, the dreamlike qualities of Vidaurri's artwork give the book an elegant appeal that will likely engender warm feelings in the reader. Jim Henson's The Storyteller Witches #1 is a very good book overall--even if it's a little non-tradiional--and has appeal to readers of all ages.

Jim Henson's The Storyteller Witches #1 is in stores now with interiors below.


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