THE STORYTELLER: DRAGONS BY JIM HENSON

A dragon and a samurai are fighting as they break out from the pages of the graphic novel.

It’s not the stories you tell, but how they are told

A lovingly crafted and richly illustrated tales of dragons.

The Storyteller Dragons is a collection of four tales of dragons and the men and women courageous enough to face them, inspired by folklore from around the world, all told in the spirit of Jim Henson’s beloved television series.


The stories are written by some of today’s most original voices, including Daniel Bayliss, Nathan Pride, Hannah Christenson, and Jorge Corona, and they are brought to life with astonishing artwork by each of these talented creators.


The result is a book that is both a feast for the eyes and a treat for the mind, one that will transport readers to a realm of wonder and imagination.


Whether you are an ardent fan of The Jim Henson Company or simply someone who loves a good story, The Storyteller: Dragons is sure to delight.


View the complete library of The storyteller books.

Other Books In The Series


The graphic novel comes to life as a sitting on a mushroom fairy breaks out from the pages of the graphic novel.

A lovingly crafted and richly illustrated tales of fairies.

The graphic novel comes to life as a witch boils a liquid in a pot over a fire.

A lovingly crafted and richly illustrated tales of witches.

Details

Title: Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Dragons

Pages: 144 pages

Author: Daniel Bayliss

Creator: Jim Henson
Published: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Archaia

Genres: Graphic Novels & Comics
Language: English
Appropriate for ages: All ages

Contents

#1 Son of the Serpent


The Son of the Serpent

  • Release date: December 2, 2015
  • Story and art by Daniel Bayliss; Script by Fabian Rangel, Jr.
  • Dragons have taken many different shapes in cultures across the world, from serpents and “worms” to thunderbirds and the classic European firebreather. In this first issue, Fabian Rangel Jr. (Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard) and artist Daniel Bayliss (Translucid) bring us “Son of the Serpent,” inspired by Native American stories about the Horned Snake and the Thunderbird.


The first volume of this series follows a Native American father and son who are fishing. Daniel Bayliss (story) and Fabian Rangel Jr. (script) quickly demonstrate that there is a strong bond between the two characters. Fortunately, the brothers' luck turns, and they are aided by a water dragon who comes to test/destroy the bond as fairy tales do.


If you've never seen The Storyteller, which was expertly crafted by Jim Henson, please do yourself the favour of watching it on YouTube or Netflix. The production effectively captures the fun and whimsy of fairy tales, allowing both youngsters and adults to get lost in the enchantment.


It's the power of storytelling that has been captured here, and this series has the potential to do so as well. The dragon is first and foremost what makes this story so memorable. Nothing against the tale, but the dragon is breathtaking and distinctive with antlers and vivid hues that make it both terrifying and gorgeous.


I've never seen anything like it, and I didn't think we'd see one that didn't fly as soon as we left the starting gate. The dragon looks exactly as you would expect a storyteller's rendition of you: it's both realistic and frightening. It's similar to Native American totems that may be found throughout the United States, yet its hues add to its intensity and ferocity.


The human figures are also well-developed, and it begins with Bayliss' excellent facial expressions. We don't know much about the father or his relationship with his son, but we do understand that their negative feelings are important in providing this narrative significance and value. You feel sorry for them and the artwork does an excellent job of conveying that emotion.


I wanted to know more about that stupid dragon! He's really cool looking, and the twist in his character makes one wonder how he was made and where he came from. Is it magical or is it real?


Regardless of that, a mythological backstory would have been nice, and it feels like a missed opportunity. Regardless of that, the dragon is flat and uninteresting beyond its danger and appearance.


Given that it's a collection, the quality of this issue doesn't automatically imply whether the following one will be as well worth your precious metal coins – but this one? There's no doubting it: this one is well worth the money – an exquisitely drawn, engaging, and emotive story of families and dragons. What do you have to lose?

#2 The Worm of Lambton

 

The Worm of Lambton

  • Release date: January 20, 2016
  • Written and illustrated by Nathan Pride
  • Nathan Pride tells the tale of “The Worm of Lambton.” A young heir to a kingdom catches a horrid Worm while fishing on the banks of the River Wear and throws it into a well in disgust. When the Worm outgrows the well and begins to torment the nearby villagers, the heir will have to return to stop it.


The work of Jim Henson and his creature workshop has a unique connection in the hearts and imaginations of many people throughout the world (particularly those from the pre-CGI generation), thanks to their ability to bring fantastic larger-than-life fantasy realms right into your living room.

 

The Storyteller was a lesser-known production, with John Hurt in the title role as an extravagantly made-up storyteller who recites ancient myths and legends based on European folklore.

 

The second book of this comic series focuses on tales featuring Dragons, as the ‘Worm of Lambton,' the subject of this particular episode, is an irresponsible young knight's path to knowledge and battle with the titular monster for which he is ultimately responsible.

 

The story is about a young girl named Kayla who possesses the ability to fly. It's an allegorical fable, which means it's mostly intended for children, but I was drawn into the tale rather quickly. Aside from a bloody climactic battle, it's fairly light on action, but there's enough depth to these bold, exaggerated archetypes to keep both kids and adults interested.

 

The tale is set in the classic mould of Hans Christian Andersen or Aesop, complete with Nathan Pride's traditionally intoned fantasy language, which perfectly captures the essence of Henson's motion picture oeuvre.

 

The cover art is fantastic, and the interior art is beautiful. It's full of stunning photography (particularly in the centrefold) and strong character work that conveys the story's more subtle moments effectively.

 

The use of tapestries and text written on ragged scroll captions to complement the medieval European look is quite effective, and his hues change in tone to reflect the tone of the story, which moves from bright brightness to muted sadness during its course.

 

This is probably one of the most pleasant fairy-tale retellings I've ever read. It had a similar impact on my childhood that many other children's classics did, but it also touched something deeper for me. Despite its subject (which wasn't unpleasant by any means), it was much more enjoyable to me than some of the others.

#3 Albina

 

Albina

  • Release date: February 17, 2016
  • Written and illustrated by Hannah Christenson
  • Hannah Christenson (Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard) presents “Albina,” the gender-swapped retelling of the Russian folktale wherein a legendary warrior and her servant face the three-headed dragon Tugarin Zmey.


It's a mouthful. But it's well worth the effort. If you've read any of my other reviews on these books, you won't be shocked to hear how much I adore Jim Henson. The majority of individuals believe this. I could talk about how amazing he was, what a source of inspiration, and how he influenced the way I viewed the world as a young person for hours.

 

But that's not what we're talking about. In other words, this is not only about the artists and creators of today extending Henson's influence; it's also a story about how they're making their own vision a reality.

 

Hannah Christenson has taken the creative reins on this book, tackling the Dragons theme with a story that takes place in Russia or a Russian-like location.

 

Albina Popovich was a girl who was born better than others. Her priestly parents educated her about her talents and encouraged her to be ambitious, and she was never content with what she had. She drove to be greater in every area of life, just as you would hope your child would do.

 

Alaina, on the other hand, was a terror in battle but found no comfort at home or in the hearth, so she set out into the world to discover her way. Mara accompanied her. She became his companion in service to Prince Vladimir, and he revealed himself as Tugarin, the Son of the Worm who took human form and consumed all that the Prince had to offer.

 

The quest to resurrect the golden egg takes a new turn when Albina and Mara learn of its existence. The tale is worth reading, with Henson's and epic mythology alike, as Albina and Mara figure out a method to collaborate and defeat the beastie.

 

This is truly mythical girl power and wonderful. Christenson's artwork appears to be done using watercolours, which is really creative. As a whole, I am pleased with the style. Her strokes are light and flowing, and she uses a lovely languishing quality to her inks that add to the effect. The dragon's style is appropriate, as it is a fantastic beast deserving of the terror it induces in characters.

 

Albina is a Wonder, Woman-style hero. She's not quite royalty, but she's almost as powerful and endowed with abilities superior to those of her peers. She is also constantly on the lookout for a new Herculean task to complete, one that only she can accomplish.

 

Mara and Melisandre are paired together in an intriguing combination, with Melisandre functioning as the mouth behind the power. However, from the buildup in the tale, it appears that if Albina wanted to, she could be just as clever as Mara is within it.

 

Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Dragons #3 is another wonderful book that follows the Hensons' storytelling approach and, more importantly, to the page. At the end of each tale, I find myself wanting at least one more, and fortunately, in this case, I'm in luck because there's going to be another of these dragon tales down the road. Perhaps next month, I'll put my head down; for now, it's Draconids Draconids Draconids.

#4 Samurai's Sacrifice

 

Samurai's Sacrifice

  • Release date: March 16, 2016
  • Written and illustrated by Jorge Corona
  • Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award-winner Jorge Corona (We Are Robin, Feathers) presents the tale “Samurai’s Sacrifice,” based on the Japanese folklore of the dragon Yofune Nushi and the young girl who faced him to protect her village.


Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons #4 comes to an end, and I must say this has me pretty bummed. I loved the series; every issue told a story from a different part of the world that had to do with the ancient serpents, and the way Jorge Corona drew these mythological creatures was fantastic.

 

I’m hoping this is not the end of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, and instead, we’ll get another series based around another creature that is a staple of several different fables and fairy tales across various regions around the world, and I especially hope Jorge Corona brings his writing and art to the next project; he’s very spot on and he makes the book great and very faithful to the original television series.

 

With that, I'd like to offer my compliments on the series. This issue, in my opinion, is my second favorite out of the four; issue #3 is undoubtedly the most compelling in terms of narrative and art, but this is close behind. The story follows Yofune Nushi, a dragon known as Yofune Nushi.

 

Every one of these concerns was about a tale I'd never heard of before, and every single one compelled me to do some preliminary research into the novel's origins. This is a problem based on Japanese folklore, and it's great that we're getting tales that most people aren't aware of.

 

I adore drawing connections between these narratives and the traditional Western fairy tales that most of us have been exposed to through the butchering, albeit frequently entertaining and classic, Disney films that have made such sad and frightening tales more approachable and gentle for younger audiences.

 

The tale of “Samurai's Sacrifice”, which began similarly to Beowulf, features warriors who enter a settlement and are assigned the responsibility of defending a village from a powerful and terrible opponent. Beowulf's goals were far more selfish than those in "Samurai's Sacrifice".

 

Tokoyo, the protagonist, has her own motivation to battle the monster, and I won't spoil it since it is such an important aspect of the story. In the course of her adventure, Komodo learns about respect and honor, and in the conclusion, she is essentially another person: one who is stronger and more grateful for her path and legacy.

 

The artwork is fantastic, and I must compliment Jen Hickman on her excellent work in coloring Jorge Corona's pieces; the colors are bright and cheerful. My only complaint about Jorge's style is that his depictions of Asian characters are at times a little too exaggerated, somewhat like in the manner of Mickey Rooney.

 

Despite this, his creature, demon, and dragon work are incredible, and it more than makes up for his minor blunders. Jorge's style is reminiscent of the original series, and his narrative has a similar rhythm and annoyances to it.

 

You can hear John Hurt's voice narrating the tale along with his loyal dog voiced by Brian Henson in my previous review. The language makes it easy to bring those voices into your thoughts.

 

I've already conveyed my thoughts on how incredible the Muppets would have been in this scenario. I want to emphasize that, as I also said before, I wish we could have seen this as an episode; the comic does a fantastic job, but the Jim Henson Company would have done amazing things with this story and a decent budget.

 

I'd love to see the franchise return to television; John Hurt does not require prosthetics and makeup to portray The Storyteller at this age. In the end, I'll miss this series; it's aggravating that the main character's fate remains unresolved at the conclusion of this last issue.

 

I highly recommend this series to anyone with a passion for mythology and very old fairy tales, because the stories are interesting with a perfect blend of the foreign and the familiar, and the art is magnificent. Definitely give this series and read, and I hope we can see more in this genre from Jorge Corona.

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