The Allure of Sequential Art, Part II

I’m feeling under the weather this week, so let’s just jump straight into part 2 of this series. The organizational theme here should be pretty obvious… and not surprising to anyone who read my series on fairy tales. Or who knows me at all. Yeah. Would it surprise you to learn that my current novel-in-progress has a bit of a fairy tale theme? No, I didn’t think so.

In any case… on to my favorite examples of sequential art!

Feature-length Animated Film: Sleeping Beauty

I’m going to shock some of you by not saying Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, one of my all-time favorite movies. But looking at animation on purely artistic merit, Sleeping Beauty is amazing. The artists painstakingly rendered backgrounds and buildings in a style emulating medieval painting, the soundtrack is straight from the Tchaikovsky ballet (a beautiful and creepy score), and the evil fairy Maleficent is about the scariest Disney villain ever. And that’s before she turns into a dragon. Plus, the prince has a personality–he’s funny! Didn’t see that again in a Disney movie until Aladdin.

Illustrated Book: Stardust (trade paperback)

This isn't the scene described below, but it was the best example I could find of Vess's mix of delicate beauty & horror.

This was tough; it’s closely followed by Sandman volumes 3 & 9 (Dream Country and The Kindly Ones) in my list of favorites. Stardust edged ahead because it’s not your ordinary graphic novel format; it’s an illustrated book, but very much for adults. You can read the book independently without the illustrations, but it sacrifices much of the charm. The illustrations add to the sense that you’re reading an old-style fairy tale, but the horror in them and in the text pulls no punches (decapitated unicorn, anyone?). Neil Gaiman is a master of storytelling in any medium, and his pairing with Charles Vess’s delicate, emotional illustrations is perfection. (On a side note, Neil Gaiman’s reading for the audiobook is also excellent.)

Comic Book Series: Fables

Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall (stand-alone volume of short stories)

Fables is an on-going comic about fairy-tale characters living in modern-day New York (Snow White is the deputy mayor of their neighborhood, Fabletown). It’s illustrated by a slew of talented artists, it’s got amazing cover art by James Jean, and it’s chock-full of complex interpersonal relationships. There is no way I could not love this series. With each volume, the writing kicks it up a notch, starting with a lot of fun and building to a surprisingly deep, layered conflict. One of my favorite, and Grimm-est, fairy tale retellings. (See what I did there? Muwhahaha!)

Next time, I’ll make good on my tease from the previous post. Probably.

What’s your favorite animated film?

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One thought on “The Allure of Sequential Art, Part II

  1. Cap'n Neurotic says:

    I watched Sleeping Beauty for the first time recently after another blogger I follow did a series of posts about how awesome it was; she also focused a lot on the prince actually having a personality, which was definitely a bonus. And, yes, it’s beautifully drawn.

    Love Fables — just about finished the Rose Red TPB, great stuff.

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