(Reading Challenge: Great Graphic Novels)
Phew! That was a lot of contributors’ names to type out in the title field. But, they all deserve to be there because this is a story with different parts of it told and illustrated by different people. A really neat frame story is set up to allow the different stories to be told. In a wood outside of regular civilization is where the faerie folk live. When one of them sees an angel fall from the sky they gather around and can’t decide whether or not to kill him. They decide to have a tribunal and each will tell a story to convince the “judge” that angels are essentially bad or essentially good. The judge is an innocent faun, who is the possession of a nasty hag. The frame story is illustrated in black and white with very angular lines. Each story then told is by a different author with a different style-in both story and illustration.
The first story is by Louise Haws and called “Original Sin.” The illustration of this story was my favorite. Very beautiful, soft, romantic. Reminded me of painters such as Reubens and Botticelli. It is the story of Adam & Eve and the angel who feeds them from the Tree of Knowledge, thus setting them into the world and apart from the animals. I thought this was a really beautiful telling of this story, and I especially liked when the Angel reveals to Eve who some of her daughters will be-such as Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth.
The next story is called “The Story Within the Story Within” by Bill Willingham. I didn’t care for this one as much in terms of illustration style. The setting is a bar for angels where a man sits down with a female angel who is drowning her sorrows and then she tells him her sad story, which is about another angel who is an old friend of hers, but whom she has been sent to kill. The most interesting part of this story was reading about the target, a lovable f&*( up of an angel. He keeps getting assigned to different departments but is never very good at them, until he finds he excels in the Cancer department as an angel of death. I’ve always liked stories imagining that sort of thing (heaven as a workplace), so I did like that part.
The next story told is “Chaya Suvah and the Angel of Death.” Darker pictures with striking dark lines immediately set the tone of this tale, set in a village in Russia. Chaya Suvah is an old woman who never leaves her house. She once made a deal with the angel of death that he could not take her unless she agreed to it–and she just won’t agree. This story has story has some witch-hunty elements, ancient Jewish tale elements, and also cycle of birth and death.
“The Guardian” comes next and I really liked the watercolor illustrations. A clumsy young woman attracts the attention of a kindly angel who starts to be by her side constantly to prevent her from falling, tripping, dropping things. As a maidservant these things make her the brunt of unkind words. Soon the angel falls in love with her and takes human form so that they can enjoy their love together. But such form is too difficult for an angel and she makes him leave her. But, as a guardian angel he is never really far from her. This was a lovely story start to finish!
The final tale is the story of how the angels fought in heaven and fell to hell and earth. Those that did not fall all the way to hell are the ones who turned into the faerie folk.
And that brings and end to the storytelling and now the tribunal is over and the boy must decide the angel’s fate! Have angels been proven to be essentially good, or essentially bad troublemakers?
I overall really liked this. It was a very quick read and I was impressed at how successfully these different stories worked together. Because of the framework it made sense to have the stories have different styles both of writing and pictures.