Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia imprint)
Writers: Daniel Bayliss, Fabien Rangel Jr
Artists: Daniel Bayliss
Release Date: 2nd December 2015
Hands up who remembers The Storyteller?! Congratulations, you are older than me. Have some Fixodent. But even though I didn’t have the opportunity to watch it as a kid, the joys of the internet mean that for, research purposes, I can now join you in the ‘remembering it’ club! Huzzah!
So for those of you who may need to be caught up to speed, the TV show – which aired between ‘88 and ‘90 – was centred around the titular Storyteller and his talking dog, to whom the former would… well, tell stories. I obviously didn’t get around to watching every single episode, but I’m reliably informed that they were, for the most part, European folk tales, and the ones I watched certainly adhered to this conceit. It’s pretty joyous and endearing – and John freaking Hurt is the Storyteller! – as the majority of Jim Henson’s work is wont to be. Though watching it now, its very early 90s look has not aged particularly well.
And so here we have exactly the same conceit, only in comic book form, and perhaps the most pleasing thing about this whole endeavour is quite how deftly it fits into the medium. On top of this, it would seem that the format has been opened up to original stories not necessarily drawn from any particular culture’s folklore. This particular store is called ‘Son of the Serpent’, and seems to be something of a mix-tape of Chinese and Native American folktales.
Bayliss’ art is beautifully striking – there’s a majesty to the way that he presents each panel that gives what might otherwise be a relatively simple story a timeless quality, as well as a sense of glorious adventure. It’s also clearly striving to be something of a fable – epousing the importance of family, the pride that it can elicit, and the fact that your family is your family, no matter how much they change. But…y’know, with dragons. So more awesomer.
Its simplicity, its homely presentation and its message do actually make this an ideal book for the younger reader that you may or may not have – if you’ve wee’uns who’re wondering what the colourful picture books you’re reading are all about, there’re infinitely worse places to start them down the rabbit hole of comic books than this.
Given that it’s an anthology series, the sheer quality of this issue doesn’t directly inform us as to whether or not the next issue will be as worth your shiny dubloons – but this one? This one is definitely worth it – a gorgeously rendered, engaging and moving tale of family and dragons. What’ve you got to lose?!
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24