It’s not the stories you tell, but how they are told
A lovingly crafted and richly illustrated tales of fairies.
This is a collection of legendary tales about when fairies roamed the Earth, based on folklore from all around the world and told in the Hensonesque style of Jim Henson‘s beloved television series.
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Fairies is a critically acclaimed movie about four fairy tales set in mystical realms inspired by folklore from around the world and told in the spirit of storyteller Jim Henson’s beloved television show.
Featuring an eclectic set of stories by some of today’s most original talent, including Matt Smith (Lake of Fire), Tyler Jenkins (Grass Kings), Benjamin Schipper, and Celia Lowenthal.
The theme of gathering four tales, each by a different author, about a common theme was continued in this volume. This group of 4 contains fairies at its heart. As a general motif, we see the Storyteller, played by John Hurt, with his loyal dog as a method to introduce each story.
If you’re a fan of The Storyteller series, you’ll notice that these tales aren’t included in the TV series; instead, they’re a lovely homage to it.
Because I’m a big fan of the previous Storyteller series, I have a bias towards these books. I was late to the game; only finding out about them a year or so ago. The fairies collection is the third one that I’ve managed to get my hands on.
Overall, there are stories in this collection that work better than others. Personally, I thought The Pond was the weakest tale within the collection. However, I appreciate how each narrative has its own distinct aesthetic. The authors’ intros also intrigue me, providing you with a peek into how they came up with the tale they’re going to tell.
I’d say that, if you like the original Storyteller series or folktales in general, there’s a lot to appreciate here. I’ll certainly keep an eye out for the others and cross my fingers that they’re republished as well.
View the complete library of The storyteller books.
Title: Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Fairies
Pages: 128 pages
Published: August 7, 2018
Appropriate for ages: 9 – 12
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Fairies #1 The Fairy Queen and the Shepard
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Fairies #2 Faerie Hill
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Fairies #3 The Pond
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Fairies #4 The Fairy Pool
#1 The Fairy Queen and the Shepard
The majority of fairy tales revolve around a supernatural being meddling in the conventional human realm for good or ill. The Storyteller: Fairies #1 reverses this common narrative pattern. In this initial issue, mundane elements intrude into the extraordinary.
Matt Smith is the creator and artist of The Storyteller: Fairies #1. It’s the newest instalment in Archaia’s ongoing The Storyteller series. Jim Henson created The Storyteller, a television program that aired for only one season in the 1980s.
Each episode begins with the title character sitting by the fire and telling a moral-laden fairy tale to his canine companion. BOOM! Studios’ imprint Archaia has been sustaining this legacy through four-part miniseries. Each series has revolved around a specific theme DRAGONS, WITCHES, GIANTS, and now, FAIRIES.
The Storyteller: Fairies #1 immediately challenges our preconceptions. The Storyteller tells his dog that fairies are known by many names, such as elves, sprites, and spriggans, to name a few. From a Western perspective, our 21st-century perception of a “fairy” is rather limited. A fairy to us appears like a tiny winged human being. Consider Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell, for example.
Fairies, on the other hand, were not always so solid. This opening sequence sets the tone for a broad series. Not all cultures acknowledge tiny winged people. However, many people around the world believe in beings that could be classified as fairies. Readers may be more receptive to tales that depart from their preconceptions of what a fairy is after being confronted with this information in the first issue.
The Fairy Queen and the Shepherd are topics addressed in The Storyteller: Fairies #1. This Icelandic tale centres on Grettir the Strong, a burly, bearded shepherd. Grettir goes looking for work on a farmstead. Unfortunately, the mysterious deaths of its shepherds during Yuletide have rendered this farmstead infamous. Despite the farmstead owner’s urging, Grettir decides to accept the position. The narrator immediately introduces us to Hild, the farm’s housekeeper who is fond of animals.
Hild casts a spell on Grettir toward the end of Yuletide. She then saddles him and rides him like a loyal horse into an unforgiving Icelandic territory. Once she reaches the threshold to the elf realm, she departs him there in isolation. Grettir receives a magical stone from two talking ravens (possibly crows – they’re big black birds).
He may enter this enchanted world and follow Hild there unseen thanks to this stone. Back in the human realm, he learns that Hild’s mother-in-law has cursed her to continue residing among humans. He also hears that speaking about Hild’s condition is the only way to release the enchantment.
Grettir isn’t thought of as “Grettir the Strong” for no reason. He doesn’t perform a godlike act or kill a monster to save Hild, despite his reputation. Instead, he uses his intellect to bear witness to her position.
This honorific-bearing character subverts our expectations of a person with such honour. Grettir’s ultimate act was to return Hild’s tiara. However, it was his poetry that exhibited she was an elf, which truly broke the curse.
Grettir, a human, rescues Hild from her magical problem at the end of the day. Although this may appear to be another version of the classic damsel in distress motif, it is actually quite empowering. Typically, people under magic’s power are subjected to its commands. Humans, on the other hand, fight for their own humanity in order to help those who are more powerful than them.
Hild allows Grettir to perish and later accuses him of being a liar and an alcoholic. Nevertheless, he is able to lift the curse from her. Even after Hild has used him for her own benefit, Gretter is still kind towards her. Furthermore, there is no reward for his kindness. Grettir isn’t a frog-kissing princess or a suitor rescuing a damsel from a tower. He’s just an honest guy doing the correct thing. And it’s fantastic.
The Storyteller: Fairies #1 wasn’t without its dull moments, but it was entertaining all the same. I also reviewed the first issue of a previous Storyteller run, GIANTS. In contrast, FAIRIES #1 lacked Jim Henson’s magic. Henson’s work became somewhat dark at times.
However, it was always infused with a little bit of humour. I didn’t detect much of a Henson-like influence in the telling of this story. There is no link between the ravens’ conversations. I believe, though, that FAIRIES #1 was able to capture the warm feeling of the entire series.
I was also disappointed by the art. The art isn’t terrible or anything like that. In fact, it’s quite appealing. The visuals are approachable and earthy in nature. It does a fantastic job of balancing contrasting warm and cold tones. Smith depicts Grettir in a way that makes him instantly likeable. But you’re going to like this. He’s soft yet incredibly robust, like fairies. I believe I was expecting something a little more mystical.
In the elfin realm, colours remain muted and the art remains realistic. There’s no explosion of fantasy at the end. But, maybe this is a continuation of the overall theme of subversion. This isn’t a Lisa Frank fantasy. The Storyteller: Fairies #1 returns to the folklore origins of fairies, not unlike previous stories.
The Storyteller: Fairies #1 is a good start to what looks to be an enjoyable series. The comic successfully challenges our preconceptions of “fairy tales.” This makes sense because, in essence, that is the purpose.
The Storyteller: Fairies #1 goes against conventional fairy tale conventions. It will be enjoyed by followers of the series. Readers who are tired of typical fairy tales will enjoy it as well. If you’re searching for something a little more substantial than a Disney film, this could be the book for you.
The Storyteller: Fairies #1 is like being brought into a warm room and having a bowl of delicious soup. Perhaps the flavour of the soup wasn’t my favourite. It might have been too simple. But, it’s been really cold lately, and the soup was mouth-watering. It’s a nutritious reminder that individuals can make an impact on the world. I can’t imagine a better comic to read as winter approaches than this one.
#2 Faerie Hill
I used to watch the original Jim Henson’s Storyteller series on television when I was a kid, and it was always one of my favourite shows. I loved the mix of live-action and Henson puppets. I liked the odd and often sinister settings that the tales would explore, and I was astonished by how the series handled so many different tales from all around the world and in mythology and fantasy.
The Storyteller was played by actor John Hurt, and he brought a light-hearted tone to the part while also displaying great gravity. Every week, his performance was one of my favourites, and I kept coming back because of it.
In the second part of this four-part series, the Storyteller begins to tell a tale about the birth of a king. The unusual and strange circumstances surrounding his birth paved the road for him to develop into a fierce warrior and strong king.
Unfortunately, his influence and power had spread so widely that there was nothing left for the warrior king to conquer, and he grew bored and irritated at his increasingly sombre disposition. His Wise Man suggests a new quest for the king. One that will take him beyond his borders and into a strange country surrounded by mystery: Fairie Hill.
Although he initially laughs off the notion, the knowledge that there is a property in his realm that he does not own weighs on him to the point where he goes out on his own to discover and agree with Fairie Hill, but once he gets there, he finds that the challenge he’s looking for isn’t what he finds and that finding him will change his world dramatically.
I really liked the story in this issue, and I thought it was a very good one. It was a straightforward and simple narrative, but there were several subtle elements included to make it more complex. The tale itself was wonderful, but the art of narration contrasted strongly with it and did not particularly stand out to me.
I felt that the artwork was a little too simple in comparison to the amounts provided to the storyteller, taking away some of the gravity of the tale. Other than that, it was a fantastic issue, and I’m excited about the next one.
#3 The Pond
I’ll be honest here: I was never into the BOOM! Studios comic book adaptations of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. Yes, as I was like many of you, I had some pleasant memories of the TV series, and yes, quite a few of the creators involved did pique my interest. With so many comics arriving on a weekly basis, there just wasn’t enough material to make this (or any other) series stand out sufficiently for me to pay attention.
Then I discovered that Tyler Jenkins was creating and drawing the most recent edition.
My interest in Jenkins’ work is well-known among regular readers of the Big Comic Page, from Snowblind with Ollie Masters to Grass Kings with Matt Kindt, so the opportunity to see him shift into the one-shot fable style of The Storyteller was all I needed to know to ensure I purchased this book.
The tale reads like Hawaiian folklore, with two warring tribes fighting for dominance in a drawn-out quarrel that is killing both of them. King Kekeo is approached by the Menehune, the Hawaiian fairies of legend, even in defeat. With no other option available, he reluctantly agrees to their offer.
They inform him that they’ve discovered a way to bring an end to the war once and for all, but there’s a catch. His son Palani, meanwhile, openly decries his father’s “ineffective” methods of war. His daughter Wahea, on the other hand, is secretly staying loyal to her childhood friendship with a member of the opposing tribe.
The cover art for “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats is a visual delight, with Jenkins’ beautiful watercoloured style adding to the picturebook feel of the narrative. The lengthy fight between Eri, Tanea and their respective warriors is well-framed in a landscape format, providing Jenkins plenty of space to bring the huge Hawaiian terrain to life without requiring him to use distracting double-page spreads.
Jenkins, like all previous instalments of this series, sacrifices superfluous detail in favour of a genuinely emotive style that combines nature and lush settings with lively characters. The crucial narrative beats, particularly those near the conclusion of the issue, when the “cost” of the Menehune’s bargain is disclosed, are handled with flair, and the overall thing has a dreamy, ethereal tone that helps to emphasize its fantastic nature.
It’s a thought-provoking and softly delivered narrative that emphasizes Jenkins’ distinctive artistic approach while also conveying an important moral lesson – the trademark of all great fairytales.
Jenkins is one of the few musicians working today that I’ll happily follow wherever he goes, and on this occasion, he shows that he’s just as capable of a writer as he is an artist. Highly suggested for people who enjoy fantastic storytelling and stunning watercoloured artwork.
#4 The Fairy Pool
Our narrator finds himself in a typical scenario, sitting before a dying fire. The Storyteller decides to tell his last story from the world of fairies as his dependable companion tries to persuade him to handle the fire.
The tale begins with a young man waking up in the morning, as we learn about the fickle nature of fairies. The young shepherd lives with his mother, who doesn’t care for his pals or how he spends his nights.
He accepts her explanation, and she is relieved. He doesn’t disagree with her because he has no desire to spend his days watching over sheep. She confronts him about his actions, and he leaves furious.
The young man finds himself in the world of the fairies after stumbling upon a fairy dance while out jogging. The fairies decide to dance and have fun with him, unaware. Something strange begins to happen as he spends more time with them, and the boy finds himself in the realm of the elves.
He is entranced by the majesty and magnificence all around him, as well as his generous hosts. He is so taken with it that he doesn’t want to leave. He is offered the option of remaining in a world of pleasure and joy, which would make him wealthy and successful. Of course, no present comes without a price; in this case, the gift was fascinating, to say the least.
This is a truly excellent story that, if I went on and on about it, would prevent future people from being interested in reading it. The series does an incredible job of transporting the reader into the narrative as well as the surrounding culture, and it is a testament to Lowenthal’s strong writing abilities. Every panel is matched to the art in such a way that everything complements the pictures and story.