Following the success of The Red Shoes and Other Tales the Metaphrog team of John Chalmers & Sandra Marrs have recently released The Little Mermaid and with their own unique style on a much-loved story it was a must-read for me to begin with.
I’m sure everyone will know the story or at least they’ll know the Disney version and it’s happy ever after but in reality there’s a much more bittersweet edge to the original stories before the Hollywood machine has got hold of them and that’s certainly the case with The Little Mermaid. While we all know it’s about the longing of our central character for a human prince, the road to reach that goal and the sacrifices along the way are a harsh reminder of the moral message hidden among the pages. The ebb & flow of the plot is there as the highs & lows play out but it manages to bring out the awe that these stories had when you first heard them.
The “be careful what you wish for” vibe is there from the beginning too and while the fantastic elements of mythical creatures existing in the sea in the first place is a trigger for the imagination, the story of love & loss that unfolds is intoxicating. Even more so when in the hands of the Metaphrog team who embrace the stories they produce with a real passion for the source material and the attention to detail and rhythm of the writing gives this world we know a fresh feel.
Art wise the pages and the whole world being created seems to just glow and even the gloomy scenes under the sea and heartbreaking moments seem to have a beauty to them. While the previous book was a collection of short tales it’s here in this book that the step-up to a feature length style of book that the team really begin to reach new heights. The pacing is spot-on, the writing hits the highs & lows as it progresses and the art work shines across every page and while the return to a fairy tale may not be everyone’s first notion it’s well worth taking the plunge as there is much more to most stories we remember from childhood.
Bittersweet in places which gives it a real feeling of purpose and heart, making this a tale that lingers far more readily than I ever remember it lingering before. That’s down to John & Sandra who have raised their game big time to gift us a tale that glows as they emphasise the care they have for the source material and the quality of the message of hope they leave us with. Kudos to Papercutz for extending the team the chance to work on this and with the promise of more on the way the Metaphrog library is only going to grow further.
You can catch-up with the team at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 14th, and then at Thought Bubble with them then appearing at The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival a little later in the year.