Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fables 1: Legends in Exile

Today was Solo Ensemble for our school. Doogie sang Amazing Grace with a group of 8 other guys. He got a second on the piece and was pleased with that. This is his last year in choir. Molly did a double duet, a quartet, and a solo. She got firsts on the duet and quartet, and she shined in her solo. Her breathing was excellent, her pitch perfect, if a bit breathy on occasion, her enunciation terrific. I was very proud of her, but the judge savaged her. She really tore Molly to pieces over her breathing and how she sang the word sleep. The judge spoke loudly enough so that everyone in the room could hear, and I could see Molly starting to crack her knuckles as she got upset. When the woman finally finished, Molly fled the room and burst into tears in the hallway. Her friends, her dad, Jesse and I all tried to calm her down, but she was devastated by the woman's meanness. She's only in eighth grade, at this age, she should receive a few comments about how to improve her technique and some praise to encourage her. This woman was a regular Simon Cowell. It's so hard to listen to someone else criticize your child and be unable to react or do anything about it. She did give Molly a first though, so she's feeling better now.

Another lifetime ago, I used to read comic books. My shameful confession: I read all of the X-books, Preacher, Transmetropolitan, Watchmen, a few DC comics, lots of Vertigo. I even wrote reviews and did interviews of personalities in the comic book sub-culture for a zine called Sequential Tart. It was a great zine; my best interview was with Berni Wrightson, creator of Swamp Thing. I was a complete fangirl. I even attended San Francisco's ComicCon. But then that chapter in my life ended, and I stopped reading comics because of the bad associations with them. Now time has passed, and heals all wounds. I try to read Publisher's Weekly regularly and order books that catch my interest. PW reviews select graphic novels, and a title by Bill Willingham called Fables sounded intriguing. I'll never read all of the titles I used to; it's a hugely expensive habit, but I am ordering some graphic novels through the library, and so far I like what I see.

Fables 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, art by Lan Medina and Steve Leialoha is a beautifully illustrated tale of fairy tale characters living in New York. The story begins with Beauty and the Beast complaining to Snow White, the deputy mayor of Fabletown, about Beast's inability to go out in public because of his horns and furry face. He becomes less human and more beastly with Beauty's waxing and waning affection for him. Snow tells them to see a marriage counselor as Little Boy Blue escorts them to the door. Then the Bigby, the police chief formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf, informs Snow that her sister Rose Red is missing, possibly murdered, and the story kicks into high gear. The story is a standard crime drama, but with so many fairy tales characters thrown in, it's a wild ride. Cinderella kickboxes with Bluebeard. Rose Red was dating Jack the Giantkiller. Prince Charming is in town and planning to sell his castle and title. All of the fairy tale characters have been exiled from their lands by the Adversary, which explains their settlement in New York. Willingham ties the characters together giving them more backstory than we've learned from the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson with rivalries, secret affairs, and fear. As Bigby and Snow work together to find out what happened to Rose, the chemistry between them crackles. The ending is entirely satisfying, and I couldn't wait to read the next book. The artwork is terrific, clean lines, beautiful colors, and the covers are outstanding. A word of warning: there is one completely gratuitous graphic sex scene, and several of the characters spew profanities.

I think that in order for a comic to be published by Vertigo it needs at least one completely gratuitous sex scene and profanities on nearly every page. (Even the website is PG-13) In most cases, this is unnecessary. Edgy doesn't have to mean offensive or dirty. I read a lot of fiction that I would consider edgy (check out Angela Hunt or Lisa Samson), and it's done without being rude.

We put out food for the birds, and I've started spring cleaning. I hope spring is here to stay!