Published by Papercutz, the Metaphrog line of fairy tales does something phenomenally well that may take you back to your own childhood–and inspire you to bring that experience to a new generation. In the fast-paced world of creating comics, where panel-by-panel composition is strenuous work for comic artists, this team nevertheless delivers an illustrated book feel in every panel.
Most of us encountered well-known fairy tales, like The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, through illustrated editions that served as visual jumping off points for our imagination. We would stare for long periods of time at the illustrations, which often only appeared every few pages, but captured the mood and atmosphere of the fantastic so fully that they stay with us, even as adults. Illustrated books haven’t disappeared–far from it. Picture books are still doing very well. But for those of us who love comics, too, and want to encourage young readers to explore the medium, finding books by Metaphrog are a bonus. They capture the skill and depth of illustration in a panel-by-panel experience.
In their version of The Little Mermaid, the Scottish creative team of John Chalmers and Sandra Mars create entire underwater kingdoms and earthly palaces of luminous beauty, dramatizing each beat of the mermaid’s tale. Because the tale is told in comics format, Metaphrog can capture subtle shifts in atmosphere and bring home interior emotion with close ups in ways only comics can. The prose narrative of the story is also artfully told to create atmosphere, suggesting wonder and prompting imaginative thought, like when it refers to “many wonders, lying deep under the sea, which no human would ever witness”.
Whether it’s fully page spread images or in single panel moments, this edition of The Little Mermaid preserves that illustrated feel which must have been very labor-intensive for Chalmers and Mars. But it’s an experience that will profoundly affect young readers and stay with them, just as our illustrated experiences have stayed with us.
Metaphrog’s The Little Mermaid will arrive in shops on April 4th, 2017.
Metaphrog have adapted other stories by Hans Christian Anderson such as The Red Shoes and Other Tales, also published by Papercutz.