Most people don’t realize just how dark and violent the original Grimm Brothers fairy tales actually were. The stories that were heard growing up are toned down Disney versions, changing the tragedy of death and loss into the happy tales of triumphant true love. This version idea is what makes Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales a refreshing change of pace. Instead of the saccharine-sweet endings of children’s books, Grimm Fairy Tales uses the classic stories as metaphors, which often take an unwanted turn.
This holiday, fans can look forward to a special Holiday Edition of GFT featuring a story based on Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Sellers is brusque and self-centered, riding her fame down a dangerous path. After a hard night of partying and heavy drinking, she is visited by the ghost of her long-gone friend, Marla, who warns Elizabeth that her current path will lead to her doom. Since you likely know the story, I won’t recap the entire issue for you, but I will say that it does Dickens justice.
Writer Patrick Shand does a wonderful job of updating the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his distaste for Christmas. Elizabeth’s selfish and entitled attitude comes off as natural, especially since it’s based on the attitudes of celebrities we see almost everyday in tabloids and the evening news. But more than that, Shand’s examples of happy memories are believable, tinged with a feeling of sentimentality that doesn’t come off as hokey.
I love the way Shand works the series’ character, Dr. Sela Mathers, into the holiday tale. As the Ghost of Christmas Past, Sela starts the ball rolling, showing Elizabeth the happiness she experienced during Christmastime. It’s a nice touch, as Sela’s purpose is to draw comparisons to the lives of her patients with the fairy tales, and she does an expert job with Elizabeth. The point of opposition in the story comes from Krampus, an obscure Christmas demon who first appeared in Zenescope’s 2010 Holiday Edition. Krampus appears as the Ghost of Christmas Future and tries to turn things to his advantage.
The art duties are shared by four artists, each handling a different time-period of the issue. The credits list Reno Maniquis, Anthony Spay, James Lyle, and Jim Rodgers, however, it fails to specify which section each did. I would assume that they go in order or appearance, but since I could be mistaken, I will just refer to sections.
There are definite splits in styles as the issue progress, some less noticeable than others. The Christmas Present sequence had the most lively art, the thick linework bringing flair to the scene. The backgrounds of the sequence were beautifully rendered with lots of detail, which also helped to make he art stand out better. The Christmas Future scene was also well done, using a lot of dynamic angles to prevent the scene from becoming dull. The rest of the issue art was good, but nothing particularly memorable.
One aspect of the issue I’m extremely happy with is the price. At $5.99, the Holiday Edition is marginally more expensive than most books on the shelves. But with 48 pages, readers get much more story than those other titles. Though the story does flow quickly, it is a great read, true to the source material and a touching holiday tale.
We don’t get enough holiday stories in the comics industry. Sure, the Big Two tend to put out a “Holiday Special” issue, chock full of short stories starring their staple characters, or even a Christmas cookie recipe. But we rarely get narratives on par with the tradition Zenescope is following. I’m really liking that someone decided that the Spirit of Christmas makes for an inspired holiday tale and provided fans with a decent narrative that doesn’t involve helping Santa deliver presents. Sure, the Grimm Fairy Tale Holiday Edition 2011 is based on one of the most pervasive holiday stories in history, but that doesn’t cheapen the issue one bit. If anything, it just shows how literary comic books can be. My hat’s off to Zenescope this season.