Though the written word is powerful, nothing invokes authority more than the spoken word. Oral histories are by far the oldest way our species has maintained our stories. In the first entry to this collection of fabled tales from the Storyteller, we learn why the Storyteller rarely does things “by the book”. Instead by choosing to speak from the heart, he delivers a tale straight from his in this new anthology series from Boom Studios, Jim Henson’s Storyteller: Shapeshifters # 1.
Jim Henson’s StoryTeller:Shapeshifters # 1 (of Four)
The Children of Lir
Story by: Andre R. Frattino
Art by: Nori Retherford
Colors by: Kieran Quigley
Letters by: Jim Campbell
Every new entry into this iconic television series takes me back to Sunday evenings. As always Dog begins the story with his typical canine comedics. On this occassion he sets out to document the amazing stories…hopefully he chooses another title. The storyteller, preferring to keep his treasures close and safe, offers a tale of showing why such things as being known matter little in life.
One thing the Storyteller series always does well is to give us a glimpse into the legends and tales of other lands. Drawing upon a tale from Ireland, the Storyteller begins with the tale of the King Lir of the Tuatha De Dannan clan. The king wished to be known for conquest and in turn his eldest child Fionna, a daughter, saw this as the only true goal in life. Her brother’s Aodh, the next oldest, and the twins, Fiahra and Conn, do not share her nor their father’s spirit.
The loss of the Queen further divides the family and allows their Uncle the opportunity to seize the crown. Through magic he transforms the children to a flock of swan, I imagine their honking now mimics their constant bickering. The tale follows the children’s efforts to not only transform themselves physically but also in other ways.
Andre Frattino crafts a story that is complete with most of the elements that made the series. The supernatural and fantasy levels are true to the Henson standard. Also, the story uses the environment to it’s advantage. This allows the natural elements to be as much as an adversary as the children’s uncle. This allows Nori Retherford and Kieran Quigley to present images of the Ireland meadows and coasts. In doing so this creates a real world connection to what some view as merely fantasy.
My only problem is the series seems less to do with this tale than the frame that surrounds it. The Storyteller’s tales always had a more ominous sense to me. Maybe it was due to my age at the time. What I do know is that since Ghosts I’ve noted a change in the tales tone. While Ghosts’s was ominous, warning against behaviors, Trickster’s felt more optimistic and observatory. I hope this series finds a way to meld the two as fear, even if fleeting has always felt like an integral part of the Storyteller’s tales.
I rarely miss an opportunity to cover anything with Henson in the title (sorry Muppet Babies reboot). It’s funny that in his tale the Storyteller hints at the problems that arise from that. A bound storyteller’s work is only for those who can access it. Or for corporations to chose when to pull it off the shelves. Thankfully there was a time that legacy and all it’s products (including the Storyteller) were shared freely. Choosing to build a family over fame isn’t always a popular decision…but it does make for a great story to tell.