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Hurling Children over Cliffs
In this episode of the Comics Alternative Young Readers Show, Gwen and Paul review two new releases, both of which have a connection to folklore and fairy tales: Jaime Hernandez’s The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America from Toon Graphics, and Amélie Fléchais and Jonathan Garnier’s The Lost Path from Lion Forge Comics’ children’s imprint, Cub House. Additionally, Paul and Gwen discuss Brian Hibb’s “Tilting at Windmills #268: Looking at BookScan 2017,” an overview of comics sales that demonstrates that the children’s and YA market continues to grow and that young people are getting comics in a variety of venues, from direct distribution at comics shops to major booksellers to Comixology.
In Part I of the show, Paul and Gwen embark on a detailed discussion of The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America, a text that includes three short tales, “The Dragon Slayer” and “Tup and the Ants,” both written and drawn by Jaime Hernandez, and “Martina Martínez and Pérez the Mouse,” a collaboration between children’s author Alma Flor Ada and Hernandez. The text begins with a short essay, “Imagination and Tradition,” by noted author F. Isabel Campoy that helps to contextualize the various fairy tales, or “cuentos” that have emerged from the diverse oral and literary traditions, which Campoy terms “a unique blend of Old World and New, spanning a continent across many geographic boundaries and cultures.” Campoy mentions specifically the Catholic, Jewish, Arab, and Moorish influences upon the Spanish, whose tales then encountered those of indigenous peoples from “the Maya, Aztec, Inca, and other Native American cultures.” At the end of the text, Campoy and Ada provide context for the three folktales, as well as a bibliography, and information on the authors. The editors at Toon Graphic have released a paperback Spanish language edition of the text, La Matadragones: Cuentos de Lationoamérica,” and Paul mentions the value of these books in dual language classrooms.
Gwen and Paul then consider the way that The Dragon Slayer fits into Jaime Hernandez’s long and storied career, and they mention both the humor inherent in the stories and the way that Hernandez’s characteristic clear line style conveys characters’ feelings and reactions. The fact that all three tales feature strong women is something that Paul highlights, noting that these tales provide a much-needed emphasis on girls and women who stand up for themselves and serve as problem solvers.
Next, the duo talks about Amélie Fléchais and Jonathan Garnier’s The Lost Path, a vibrant adventure story that includes references to classic fairy tales, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Gwen notes the text’s similarity to other contemporary comics in which young people pass through to a magical land where conflict is brewing – she mentions specifically Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson’s recently released The City on the Other Side (First Second) as an example, while Paul praises the text’s style, from the gorgeous water color page-length spreads to the black and white sketches, which are rich in detail and artistry.
The show concludes with Paul and Gwen discussing the rise in hybrid comics, as well as implications that they have drawn from reading Brian Hibb’s latest report on comics sales.