Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jim Henson's The Storyteller

I briefly mentioned The Storyteller Jim Henson TV series in my review post of far far away. I watched that show when I was pretty young (4 years old, to be exact)...and will absolutely admit The Soldier and Death episode left me a bit scarred.  As I got older, I got over the flying red demons and purchased the DVD of the series.  It's pretty awesome. I mean, Sean Bean (The True Bride) when he's super young?  Yes, please! Plus, John Hurt as the Storyteller, Brian Henson as The's just a great introduction to folktales from around the world.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic to get to review the new paperback edition of the graphic novel (published in 2011).

Now, "beginning as I do at the beginning and starting as I must at the start..."

Jim Henson's The Storyteller  includes 9 stories- some well known to us, like Puss In Boots; others are a bit more obscure, like The Frog Who Became An Emperor.  Each tale is prefaced with some interaction between the Storyteller and his dog, because something has to remind him of one of his stories!

Different artists tackle different tales- the Old Fire Dragaman story had the illustrations I was expecting, while the bluish hues of Puss in Boots really brought out its fairy tale-ness.  My all-time favorite of the illustrations, though, were those in The Crane Wife.  I liked the story, too- kind of a play on the Cupid & Psyche story.

The Witch Baby was most like the TV series- the way it wove in and out of the Storyteller's narration and being in the story.  It is told by Tarot cards, and kind of a breaking of the fourth wall.  I later found that The Witch Baby was an unproduced episode from the teleplay (which explains a lot).  Honestly, I'm kind of glad it wasn't produced.  It was just...weird.  Disturbing. 

This is a rare occasion where I'll say I liked the movie (or in this case, TV series) better.  There's something about the oral/aural tradition that goes along with folklore. I did like the graphic novel, but I'm holding it to a high storytelling standard that's been in my mind for a quarter of a century.  I didn't care for some of the illustrations, but some were amazing.  Given the variety in the novel, though, I do think there would be something for everyone.

I would recommend this to those who liked the original series (folks who have seen The Labyrinth [starring David Bowie's, um...package] will recognize the dog's voice as Hoggle's!)  I'd also recommend it to those who like folklore in general, and graphic novels.

"All stories are true to someone."- The Storyteller

Jim Henson's The Storyteller is published by Archaia.  Digital ARC provided by NetGalley.
Release Date (of paperback edition): 08.13.2013

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