Fairy Quest Review

By | Friday, July 06, 2012 1 comment
There are, of course, any number of fairy tales out there from Aesop's Fables to Journey to the West. Their longevity often has to do with each generation being able to take the stories and manipulate them to better fit their current times and culture. The wicked Queen from the original Snow White stories, for example, was literally tortured to death at Snow White's own wedding. Hardly an ending that would befit the benign environment Americans wanted for their children when Walt Disney made his animated version of the tale!

The stories are so well-known that any number of creators have played around with the basic elements to varying degrees. Betty Boop took up the role of Snow White, Bugs Bunny met the Three Bears, Tex Avery animated a decidedly more racy version of Cinderella, there was a regular "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show... And now Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos take their turn with Fairy Quest.

The story concerns two inhabitants of Fablewood, who repeatedly act out their parts in their respective fairy tales over and over again. While they technically have free will to do as they please, Mr. Grimm does his best to ensure there are as few deviations from the script as possible, issuing citations when characters improvise or ad lib their material. Repeat and serious offenders get thrown into the Mind Eraser, and are "rehabilitated" in a decidedly Orwellian manner. It's under this environment that Red Riding Hood befriends the antagonist in her story, Mr. Woof. When the convicted Cindy Rella gives up the names of like-minded citizens, Red and Woof rush to escape in the hopes of finding their way to Realworld...

The book has the high level of quality that I know I've come to expect from Jenkins and Ramos. There's plenty of action to move things along quickly, but the story doesn't feel empty or hollow because of it. The characterizations across the board are interesting, both those who fall perfectly in line with what you'd expect from them based on older stories and those who play against type.

With so many variations and twists on the classic stories as there've been, the premise of having rigid scripts seems a tad odd, but I suspect we'll see in future installments that Mr. Grimm hasn't always been in charge of Fablewood and his authoritarian regime is a reaction to all the changes made in the past. Likewise, I expect Red's ultimate theme/message will be along the lines of allowing stories to live and grow naturally. Both points, of course, could be put in a larger context as well, about living your own life and telling your own story.

Or, I suppose, they might just let the story be fun and not put a strong message behind it! But in any event, it's already a fun book and I'm looking forward to seeing more. I suspect Jenkins and Ramos will have copies of these at upcoming conventions.
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Ethan said...

My interest is piqued. I haven't read anything from them in years, but this seems like a good re-entry point for me.