Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
adapted by Doug Wheeler,
art by David Wenzel
(NBM, 1995)

Grimm, indeed.

Those whining about violence in Disney's homogenized, pasteurized and animated versions of folk tales will shudder at the original German stories gathered by Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm. First published in 1812, they reek of intended cannibalism, stabbing, hangings, strangulation and poisoning. And that's just in "Little Snow White"!

These will be silly shudders, of course.

This collection of Grimm tales adapts "Little Snow White," "The Shoemaker & The Elves" and "The Three Sluggards."

The first is universally known; the second story of elves stitching shoes for a poor cobbler and his wife is almost as recognizable. The third story of three sons vying for their father's crown by bragging about their laziness is a rare tidbit, and only one page of Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

These adaptations remain true to the originals. Each is a morality play for adults and children.

The personalities of the Grimm Brothers' characters were and are wonderfully full and brief, and did much to stereotype our current images of princes, princesses, kings and witches. And, wisely, most of their violence is distanced in the telling.

Packaged like a children's book, this collection uses the visual techniques of comic books, including panels and dialogue balloons. Its art is richly detailed, stylized and entertaining.

It's a shame many adults will shun it, as they will, thinking that reading about violence will turn angels into demons. Well, put the silly shudders aside. Men are susceptible to temptation, not programmed like computers. Simply reading bad things doesn't make us bad, or reading good things make us angels.

[ by Michael Vance ]
Rambles: 18 January 2003

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