Up the Mysterly River
was Bill Willingham's first kids' novel, published by a small press in the 1990s, long before his multi-award-winning (and most excellent) Fables
graphic novel got underway. After languishing out of print for many years, Tor Books has finally brought it back to shelves. It's high time, as this is a ripping good read that explores many of the themes that make Fables
such a tremendous read, but in a form that's accessible and appropriate for younger readers.
Mysterly River opens with Max the Wolf, a young cub scout, wandering in a mysterious forest with no memory of how he got there. We quickly learn that Max the Wolf is an accomplished boy detective of the sort that ripping kids' books are written about, and it seems reasonable to assume that this is going to be a book in that mold.
And then Max meets the talking badger, Banderbrock, who is a fearsome warrior himself, and who believes that he has come to the badger afterlife (he can remember dying). Just as Max and Banderbrock are getting their bearings, they encounter McTavish the Monster, a foul-tempered tomcat who is fleeing from a savage hunter and his baying hounds. The hunter turns on Max and Banderbrock, and they overcome the odds to best him, and they escape him with their lives, now a company of three.
So begins a fast-moving, utterly charming fairy tale about a mysterious land populated by speaking animals and the wicked cutters -- a brotherhood of vicious swordsmen who use their magical blue swords to cut away at their prey, turning them into inoffensive, narratively convenient literary constructs in keeping with whatever the current storytelling vogue demands. Soon, the small company of heroes meets a fourth, TK the bear, and they set off for a sanctuary in the keep of a wizard, where, they are told, they'll be safe from the Cutters, perhaps forever. From then on, it's a roaring adventure story, with twists and turns and mysterious saviors and double-crosses and tragedy and sacrifice and heroism.
And on the way, there's a great lot of stuff about the nature of stories and fables, the lives of characters and the intentions of their creators, and the mysterious workings of creativity.
Though this is very early Willingham, it still stands with his best work, and certainly prefigures the Fables series. If you enjoyed Peter and Max (his recent Fables prose-novel, which is also available as an audiobook masterfully read by Wil Wheaton) this will surely delight you -- and it's a perfect entree to the Fables world for younger readers for whom the more adult material and illustrations of Fables might not yet be appropriate.
Mark Buckingham, an artist on Fables, did a series of internal illustrations for the book. Tor was good enough to provide a complete set (PDF) for your enjoyment (some samples after the jump).
Down the Mysterly River
In The Oversight, Charlie Fletcher introduced us to a secret history of London and the ancient order that defended it from the creatures of the dark. Now, with The Paradox, a sequel, Fletcher plunges the bedraggled heroes of the Oversight into danger that they may not be able to best.
Randall “XKCD” Munroe’s Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words arrives in stores today: it combines technical diagrams and wordplay in pure display of everything that makes XKCD brilliant and wonderful in every way.
Craig Thompson’s second graphic novel, the 582-page mammoth Blankets, swept the field’s awards, taking three Harveys, two Eisners, and two Ignatzes. More than a decade later, and buoyed by his later successes (such as 2011’s seminal Habibi), Drawn and Quarterly has produced a beautiful new edition.
Don’t get handcuffed by Apple’s standard 3-foot Lightning cord (that you’ve most likely already lost), treat yourself to 10 feet of luxurious charging convenience. The Colossal is certified by Apple for its high-end quality, and designed to support full use of your phone while you power up. You can also get it in a 2-pack […]
Today and tomorrow only we are offering an additional 15% off the entire Boing Boing store (some exclusions may apply). Simply use coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY at checkout! Below are a few of our favorites from the store: First Generation Lytro 16GB Camera: The First Consumer Camera to Capture the Entire Light FieldAdobe Training Videos: Lifetime Subscription: 6,000+ Adobe […]
Today only in the Boing Boing Store we are offering an extra 15% off of the below VPN deals just use coupon code: VPN15 at checkout. proXPN VPN: Premium Lifetime Subscription Surf the web with ultimate peace of mind – both at home and on the road – over proXPN’s fully-encrypted, lightning-fast servers. Your lifetime premium subscription […]