Today, it’s my absolute pleasure to take part in the Fable Comics blog tour hosted by First Second Books / Macmillan Kids.
In the tradition of Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics, First Second and editor Chris Duffy bring us Fable Comics–a phenomenal anthology of 28 different fables from almost as many artists. Featuring the enormous talent of cartoonists such as James Kochalka, Jaime Hernandez, Maris Wicks, Liniers, and Roger Langridge, Fable Comics presents stories of gods, animals, and humans who get themselves into and (sometimes) out of trouble…with the requisite moral at the end.
As part of the blog tour, The Roarbots is pleased to present the eighth installment in the book (and the tour): “The Old Man and Death” by Eleanor Davis.
Eleanor Davis comes from an indie, self-publishing background in comics, but she recently made a splash with Fantagraphics’ collection of literary short stories, How to Be Happy (for which she also just won an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Anthology or Collection). She’s also published a couple titles with Toon Books, including a particular favorite around my house, Stinky.
Fables–by their very nature–are short, and none of the creators here make any attempt to arbitrarily extend them. Each story is only about three to five pages long, and “The Old Man and Death” is one of the shortest in the book.
The story is one of Aesop’s fables, and it’s a simple anecdote about love and appreciation of life. Interestingly, it’s also one of the rare fables that stars a human character:
An old laborer, bent double with age and toil, was gathering sticks in a forest. At last he grew so tired and hopeless that he threw down the bundle of sticks, and cried out: “I cannot bear this life any longer. Ah, I wish Death would only come and take me!”
As he spoke, Death, a grisly skeleton, appeared and said to him: “What wouldst thou, Mortal? I heard thee call me.”
“Please, sir,” replied the woodcutter, “would you kindly help me to lift this faggot of sticks on to my shoulder?”
WE WOULD OFTEN BE SORRY IF OUR WISHES WERE GRATIFIED.
Davis takes this simple fable and presents it with her unique style and compelling illustrations. Below are a couple sample pages from “The Old Man and Death.” Remember, though, that this is just one of 28 remarkable stories in Fable Comics. It is well worth checking out. First Second has knocked it out of the park….yet again.
Please be sure to check out each and every one of the stops on the Fable Comics blog tour. Each tour stop features one of the fables from the book, in order. The tour not only features a ton of great artists but also visits a whole host of great blogs. The complete list is here. Do check a few out.