Ancient ballads in comic form; art that honors English folklore; collaborations with Neil Gaiman, Sharyn McCrumb, Jane Yolen, Jeff Smith… this and so much more can be said about this book, first available as single issues and now in an impressive compendium, 162 pages long.
For me, the kingdom of Faerie is something I see through Charles Vess’ eyes and ability. I first met him in Sandman: Dream Country, and have been keeping an eye on him ever since.
These traditional folklore tales and songs, adapted to be read as graphic stories, echo the way the verses sound, leading you through a visual representation of their themes that makes you wonder about their ancient meaning.
In Neil Gaiman’s “The False Knight on the Road,” a kid must face the riddles of a terrible spirit, and his cunning answers are all he’s got against a foe much stronger than him.
“Thomas the Rhymer” tells the story of a man who was able to visit the Faerie kingdom and come back, and there are many more. “King Henry,” “The Great Selchie of Sule Skerrie,” “Twa Corbies,” “The Galtee Farmer,” “The Black Fox”—all of these adapted by famous writers in collaboration with Vess.
Not only are these interesting to read and beautiful to behold, but they also serve as a way of understanding a world. The way Charles Vess envisions ancient magic and uncanny Faeries and Pixies is a lesson on the subject all by itself. Read him, learn from him, try to draw like he does, and you′ll be richer in the process.
The Book of Ballads The Original Art Edition
The Book of Ballads The Original Art Edition (Limited Edition)
First published October 2017
Charles Vess’ The Book of Ballads – The Original Art Edition is published by Titan Comics, a division of
Published by: Titan Publishing Group, Titan House: 144 Southwark Street, London SE1 0UP.
Book of Ballads and Sagas, TM and © 2017
Charles Vess/Green Man Press. All Rights Reserved.
Featured image by Charles Vess