Sunday, June 7, 2015

Four-Color Fairy Tales: Fractured Fables.

Sometimes, when it comes to books and comics, I have to go back to stuff I skipped for various reasons before and give them a second chance.  Sometimes I pass on the book because it doesn’t interest me at the time.  Sometimes it’s because I simply have too much on my “to-read” list as it is.  Other times, it’s for financial reasons. 

Anyway, that’s the case with this graphic novel: Fractured Fables from Image Comics, first published in 2010.

Why did I pass on it?  Well, part of it was for monetary reasons.  I was buying a lot more comic books at the time and I just couldn’t afford to add an original hardcover graphic novel to my budget for the week this came out.  The other reason is because the title put me off.  You see, the whole fairy tale boom had just started up again in books and comics and people were throwing around the phrase “Fractured Fairy Tales” with a level of gusto that was a bit annoying.  Add into that the fact that they threw the word “fables” in there as if to crib from DC/Vertigo’s popular series and it seemed like a cheap cash-in.  So, I wrote it off as a library loan for another day (a day which happened to come five years later).

Now, for those who don’t know, the term “Fractured Fairy Tale” has a history all its own.  It was the title of a segment on the classic cartoon The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  In the cartoon, a fairy tale would be depicted with a number of humorous twists added (this will be a “Fairy Tale Media Fix” for another day).  Personally, I’m a big fan of Fractured Fairy Tales, Rocky and Bullwinkle and the various other cartoons associated with show creator Jay Ward.  So, was I a little bit put off by people using the term “Fractured” to refer to any retelling of a fairy tale, nursery rhyme, legend or children’s story with any kind of little twist or deviation from the norm?  Honestly, yes, I kind of was.

So, you’ll be glad to know that I was pleasantly surprised by this graphic novel.  This is because it was actually a worthy follower of the Jay Ward “Fractured Fairy Tales” tradition in that they actually emphasized humor above everything else. 

Fractured Fables is an anthology of short comic stories based on fairy tales, nursery rhymes and children’s songs.  Some of the contributors are those that will be known to comic book fans while many others may be unfamiliar.  By and large, the stories are humorous.  One or two, though, do take a more serious approach.  For example, there’s a take on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” by writer Marie Cruz and artist Whilce Portacio which plays things pretty straight in terms of tone but recasts the main characters as some Filipino-American kids who are away at dance camp.  Otherwise, we have a “Little Red Riding Hood” tale in which the wolf bites off more than he can chew, a “Little Miss Muffet” who collects spiders and bugs, a “House That Jack Built” that evolves into a raging house party and the trial of Hansel and Gretel among others.
Peter David: Writer of Stuff
One story that particularly caught my attention was a take on “The Little Mermaid” by writer Peter David.  I’ve been a fan of David’s writing for some time.  His blog is one of the ones I awarded the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” to.  Peter David is known for being able to write humor.  Many people know him as the guy who brought humor to the X-Men franchise with the 1990s version of the comic book X-Factor (though he does have considerable dramatic chops too).  What’s interesting about him writing a Little Mermaid story is that he has some experience with this story.  Peter David was actually the official writer for the Disney Little Mermaid comic book series back in the 1990s when Disney was actually publishing its own comics.  He liked the gig and character so much, he actually named his daughter Ariel (not so strange, I went to grad school with a girl who was named Aurora for very similar reasons).  So, it’s interesting to see Peter David tackle “The Little Mermaid” again from a humorous, non-Disney direction.

Fractured Fables is worth taking a look at if you like humorous takes on fairy tales.  You may find some of the stories funny while others you may not.  That’s the nature of comedy, though.  It’s highly subjective.  However, with so many different writers and artists in this one book, there’s a good chance that you’ll find something that’ll make you giggle.


  1. Peter David! Now there's a name from my past. I had read his novels before he got into the comic books. He did some excellent Star Trek fiction and a few about King Arthur turning up in modern America and running for President, because ruling is all he knows how to do. I'm fairly sure Peter David wrote some Babylon 5 too. He was here for Armageddon convention, as a comic book writer.

    I loved Fractured Fairytales too, with the voice of comedian Edward Everett Horton.

    1. Peter David is a rather prolific writer in both novels and comics. He's written a number of novels including Star Trek ones, movie adaptations and the Sir Apropos of Nothing series. He's written comics for both Marvel and DC as well as the independent companies. He's also written for TV. This includes creating the short-lived Nickelodeon sci-fi series Space Cases with Bill Mumy (the guy who played Will Robinson on Lost in Space).

      I'll always think of him as the guy who wrote Young Justice, the first superhero comic to make me laugh, though.