Tuesday, July 28, 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 86: The stunning comics and graphic novels of Metaphrog

I still can't quite remember what originally caught my eye about the fantastic work of Metaphrog. I think it was at a point where I knew C was becoming more and more interested in comics - even at a young age she seem drawn to them, drawn to the format of strips and panels as a way of conveying a story far more effectively (for her at the time) than mere words could manage.

It started with "Louis: Red Letter Day". John and Sandra - the awesome duo known as Metaphrog - might well be more famous now for their superbly dark retellings of classic fairy tales but the Louis books were just something else.

Children are far more willing to accept and enjoy surreality as a concept, which was definitely borne out by the Louis graphic novels. The story of a benign little chap who has a fairly mundane but happy life is tinged with moments that may sail completely over children's heads, yet they're still able to decode a lot of what Louis' stories are all about.

With his tweety sidekick FC, Louis is wholly accepting of his lot - even when teased and tricked by a pair of nasty spiteful little characters - a strange boss-like chap and his suck-up minion (shiny!) who seem to devote a colossal amount of time to messing with Louis' life.

I just loved the originality of these, the bits where you nod along thinking "Yeah, life's like that kiddo" but also we were both completely drawn in by how beautiful the books are, I mean just check out these set of panels from "Louis: Night Salad" - Gorgeous, gorgeous work!


Finding a publishing home at Papercutz, Metaphrog's work has gone completely stellar with their aforementioned treatments of classic tales, always given an original and glorious makeover in the Metaphrog style.

"The Red Shoes and other Tales" is a particular favourite, demonstrating how subsequent modern takes on these stories have always watered them down a bit - something Metaphrog are keen to address, and keen to put right. Each time they tackle a tale, they restore the original darker versions of the stories - and again kids are more than capable of coping with dark stuff (this is definitely something we've learned over the course of ten years of children's book blogging).

"The Red Shoes" tells the story of a young girl, orphaned at an early age but taken in with kindness by her aunt. The young girl spies a pair of red shoes in a shop and simply must have them! But these are no ordinary shoes, they're magic and the wearer is destined to dance until they die (quite literally!)

However the story in this collection that really caught C's eye was "The Doll". Like something out of an episode of "Tales of the Unexpected" it's the story of a young boy who takes refuge in a toy museum. He swears that one of the exhibits - a doll - can read his thoughts and understand what he's saying. She becomes his only friend - school friend bully him about his obsession and things are tough at home too. Finally the boy realises there's a way he and his new friend can be together forever...

It's really spooky but brilliant, and the trio of tales is polished off by one of the most heartbreaking versions of "The Little Match Girl" you're ever likely to read, again John and Sandra sounding out the plight of those who end up living below the poverty line, subtly but effectively.

Here's a brace of links to all our reviews of their fantastic work. Wishing John and Sandra all the brightest and best, as they are so supremely talented.

Original Review Links: 

#ReadItMD13 Comics and Magazines Week - ReadItDaddy interview the mighty Metaphrog!

Booky Advent Calendar Day 17 - 17th December 2013: "Winter's Tales" by Metaphrog (Metaphrog Publishing)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 25th September 2015 - "Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes (and other tales)" by Hans Christian Andersen and Metaphrog (Papercutz Publishing)

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

"The Photographs" by Metaphrog. A Graphic Short (published by Metaphrog / Glasgow Life)

Louis - Red Letter Day by Metaphrog (Metaphrog Publishing)

Louis - Night Salad by Metaphrog (Metaphrog Publishing)

ReaditDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week: Week Ending 22nd May 2020: "Bluebeard: A Feminist Fairy Tale" by Metaphrog (Papercutz)

Get ready for an utterly awesome version of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes" from Metaphrog and Papercutz

#ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "Getting Crafty with Children's Books" - Time for a book-themed make...!

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