Boing Boing 

Be terrified: new Grimm's Fairy Tales book

It's no secret that the Disney-fied versions of fairy tales that we grew up with in modern times pale in comparison to the originals, told by the likes of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.

The originals were often dark and gruesome cautionary tales that taught children about the dangers of the world. Now, for the first time, an English translation of the first edition of the original tales as told by the Brothers Grimm has been published by Princeton University Press. Even the cover of this book is scary!

Camille Rose Garcia's Snow White

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NewImageAt last night's opening for Camille Rose Garcia's breathtaking "Down The Rabbit Hole" painting exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, I bought a copy of Camille's illustrated edition of Snow White. This is not Disney's delightful Snow White story though, but rather the darker, creepier tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. Camille's goth-inspired, phantasmagoric fine art bring the classic story to life once again. Snow White by the Brothers Grimm and Camille Rose Garcia (Amazon)

The Golden Key

George MacDonald's The Golden Key is a classic fairy tale in the truest form. A young boy hears a tale from his great-aunt about a golden key at the foot of the rainbow, and charges into Fairyland to find it where the indescribably beautiful colors end. Find it at the end of this Gutenberg collection of fairy tales or in this Kindle version, it's long enough for three or four story times. [Thanks Phill!]

Willingham's Down the Mysterly River, a kids' novel that captures the glory of Fables

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

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Grimmer Tales: twisted fairy tale comics


The publishers of Erik Bergstrom's Grimmer Tales: A Wicked Collection of Happily Never After Stories were kind enough to send me a review copy, which I've just had a very entertaining half-hour chuckling over. The book consists of a series of extremely nasty comic-strips telling the aftermath of the classic folkloric fairy tales. For example, one running gag has Pinnocchio telling polite social lies in panel 1, while panel 2 depicts his sprouted nose gouging out the eye of some innocent (i.e., "Cute baby! -- stab").

These running gags are pretty funny, but the really standout moments are the longer strips, especially the "What a Witch" strip, in which two witches standing over a cauldron extol the virtues of Kiddee Flakes, which are much more convenient for kidnapped-child-fattening than candy-houses. This is good, wicked humor at its finest -- if you loved Fractured Fairy Tales...

Grimmer Tales: A Wicked Collection of Happily Never After Stories