Sunday, September 11, 2016

"The One Hundred Nights of Hero" - A New Graphic Novel in the Tradition of Arabian Nights

In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.
What are the Thing trees, indeed. Are you intrigued? I am!

This new graphic novel by Isabel Greenberg, was released in the UK on September 1st (you can find it HERE) and will be released in the US on December 6th (pre-orders available through Amazon).

Here's the rest of the blurb:
In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle--and Cherry. 

But what Jerome doesn't know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.
As intricate and richly imagined as the works of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton's in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg's One Hundred Nights of Hero will capture readers' hearts and minds, taking them through a magical medieval world.
I don't know a lot about it, except to say that I'm definitely curious, and this writer and illustrator has a habit of wowing critics so this one's on my "to watch for" list. It helps that The Guardian has a brief but lovely write up too. Here's an excerpt from the review:
Hero tells stories to distract (Manfred, her husband's friend), taking in dark swamps, floating greenhouses, cursed daughters and a harp that sings of murder. Danger lurks within these tales and after each dangling cliffhanger, but Hero weaves a web that has soon snared the suitor, the sentries and most of the townsfolk. Greenberg’s artwork is whimsical, and her plots reference countless fables. 
Greenberg has generously previewed quite a few pages  and scenes, on both her Twitter feed, Tumblr and Instagram (often using them as commentary on her excitement and nervousness about the upcoming release, which work so very well) so I've assembled, what appears to be the beginning (or very near the beginning) of the story. Take a look.
Page45 (yes, that's the name of the comic book news site) has a more extensive review, which I'm including an excerpt of, since it mentions all those things that we love: plot twists, folk and fairy tales and the power of story:
Will handmaiden Hero similarly succeed in saving the virtue of her beloved mistress Cherry from the predatory advances of her husband’s lascivious and quite ridiculous best mate? Whom her husband’s encouraged for the sake of a bet and proving a point! Hero’s certainly won over the guards with her carefully chosen and craftily spun yarns, but where has the one hundred and first night gone?
The answers will prove elevating. I even anticipate an air punch or two.
This is a book about stories and storytelling; of sisterhood and story spreading...
...What Greenberg has done here with the Scheherazade scenario – which elements she has incorporated and how she’s repositioned them – is ever so clever and makes for much mockery of man-pride.
Yes. We definitely want to read this.

To give you more of an idea of Greenberg's style in comics and storytelling you can read her graphic short story The River of Lost Souls, for free, online HERE. It will especially appeal if you also enjoy myth and begins with a forgotten coin on the banks of the river Styx...

Fairy tale bonus of the day:

I admit I was torn as to whether to make this one it's own post as I'm just as thrilled about this illustrated story as a new Scheherazade-based graphic novel! 

Isabel Greenberg and award winning author Zoe Gilbert, (whose short stories are often inspired by folk tales and folklore), were asked by Microsoft (stay with me) to "project test" the new suite of tools in Office 2016, designed to make online collaboration easier. They had just two weeks to create, from scratch, a completely new illustrated story and the result is The Mud-witch. (Yes those are webbed hands you see there!)

I initially forgot to embed the video, (sorry!) showing the collaboration and creation of words and images. It's fascinating, just from a story-creation point of view, plus, you know, folklore!

(Did your ears perk up? Mine did and it was worth the dive into the PDF available online HERE - if you can't see it embedded below - to read and view it.)

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