Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer/Artist: Tyler Jenkins
Lettering: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 21st February 2018
Full disclosure: I was never particularly interested in BOOM! Studios’ comic book versions of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. Yes, like a lot of us I had some fond memories of the TV series, and yes, some of the creators involved did tickle my fancy, but with so many comics heading my way on a weekly basis, there sadly wasn’t enough to make this series (or collection of series’) stand out enough for it to grab my attention.
And then I found out that Tyler Jenkins was writing and drawing the latest issue.
Regular readers of the Big Comic Page will be well aware of my love of Jenkins’ work, from Snowblind with Ollie Masters to Grass Kings with Matt Kindt, so the prospect of seeing him slotting into the one-shot fable style of The Storyteller was pretty much all I needed to know to make sure I picked this one up.
The story reads like a Hawaiian folk tale, with two warring tribes engaging in a drawn-out conflict which is gradually destroying them both. Desperate and despondent, even in victory, King Kekeo is approached by the Menehune – the Hawaiian fairies of folklore – with an interesting proposition. They offer him a solution, a way to end the war once and for all, but like all such deals, this one comes with a price. Elsewhere on the island, his daughter Wahea is secretly staying loyal to her childhood friendship with a member of the opposing tribe, while his son Palani openly criticises his father for his “ineffective” methods of war.
Visually, as you might expect, this issue is an absolute treat, with Jenkins’ striking watercoloured style really helping to underscore the picturebook nature of the story. Interestingly, the entire issue is also presented in a landscape format, giving Jenkins ample opportunity to bring the expansive Hawaiian landscape to life without having to resort to sometimes distracting double-page spreads.
As always, Jenkins sacrifices unnecessary detail in favour of a truly evocative style that blends nature and lush environments with expressive characters. The key storyline beats – particularly those near the end of the issue where the “price” of the Menehune’s deal is finally revealed – are handled with flair, and the whole thing has a dreamy, ethereal quality that really helps to emphasise its fantastical nature.
It’s a thought-provoking and gently delivered story that works well to showcase the distinctive artistic style of Jenkins, and comes with an underlying moral message – the hallmark of all good fairytales. Jenkins is one of the few artists working today that I’ll happily follow anywhere, and on this occasion he proves that he’s every bit as talented a writer as he is an artist. Highly recommended for fans of fantastical storytelling and beautiful watercoloured artwork.
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