Friday 26 May 2017

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 26th May 2017 - "The Little Mermaid" by Metaphrog (Papercutz)

Once again, our Book of the Week slot sees the supremely talented creative duo Metaphrog grace us with a fantastic mesmeric reworking of a fabulous fairy tale. It's the turn of "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen...
We sometimes wonder what would have happened in an alternate universe where Disney hadn't existed. If there's one thing the colossal entertainment giant could lay claim to, it's keeping certain stories alive. Would Hans Christian Andersen's most celebrated work have survived into the 21st century without that dreaded "Disneyfication"?

I think it would have, so would many others, purely because talented storytellers the world over love those stories, love the darkness of the originals and are committed to doing them due homage through their own inimitable styles.

Take Metaphrog for example. John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs, the Eisner Award-winning graphic novelists who have made it their business over the last few years creating the most sublime versions of classic stories, bring their mix of heartfelt and emotive storytelling and jaw-dropping visuals to stories that have been told and re-told over many centuries.

Doing so in a way that makes your work stand out is a supreme challenge. You've got that whole aforementioned "Disneyfication" to fight through for starters, which is no mean feat (particularly as Disney's version of "The Little Mermaid" actually feels tinged with darkness at times like the original. You've also got rather twee versions of the story trotted out through children's book versions, which sometimes seem to gloss over what Charlotte refers to as "the good bits" - all those elements of the story that are the most thought provoking, and again dark and mysterious.

Beautiful, tragic and utterly mesmerising. Metaphrog's "The Little Mermaid"

The story of "The Little Mermaid" begins with the youngest of six sisters. She is obsessed with the world above the waves, salvaging relics from the surface, including the statue of a young boy. In her mind's eye, she imagines the world on dry land inhabited by statues like this, and listens to the stories of her grandmother telling of how mermaids may visit the surface when they're 15 years old, but must beware - lest humankind spy them and reveal their secrets.

One by one her sisters reach 15, and come back with even more dazzling tales of the perfect sunsets or ships trapped in roaring storms, sailors drowned or dashed against the rocks.

The Little Mermaid hears them all, and her obsession grows. A tragic event leads to a monumental decision and a deal with the nefarious Sea Witch as The Little Mermaid falls in love with a Prince after rescuing him from the waves. She realises all too late that you need to be careful what you wish for, and that the life you imagine is the life of your dreams may be more nightmarish than you think.

Beautiful, lyrical, tragic and emotive. A truly amazing piece of work from Metaphrog

Stunningly told and a visual spectacle too, "The Little Mermaid" once again feels fresh, vibrant and enchanting under Metaphrog's expert hands.

Charlotte's best bit: When The Little Mermaid must decide on a terrible pact with the truly terrifying (and awesome) Sea Witch.

Daddy's favourite bit: Utterly charming, truly beautiful, not so much a graphic novel as a piece of artwork to be cherished and treasured, once again Metaphrog have come up with something miraculous and essential.

(Kindly supplied for review)

"The Little Mermaid" by John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs (AKA Metaphrog) is out now, published by Papercutz.