Every year, thousands of independent and creator owned comics hit the shelves of comic book shops across the world. The unfortunate side of that, is that even though these few and proud books managed to reach publication, the vast majority of them deserve far more attention than they will ever end up seeing. But once in a while, one book comes along that can shine the spotlight on a slew of incredibly talented comic book writers and artists all at once, bringing some well deserved attention to their works and presenting the stories that they want to tell in one conveniently awesome package. This brings me to the subject of this review; Once Upon A Time Machine.
Once Upon A Time Machine is a massive anthology graphic novel that gathers over 90 writers and artists together to release one definitive series of stories that are all sci-fi twists on classic fairy-tales. Once Upon A Time Machine is a labor of love that was forged by local Philadelphia comic shop owners Chris Stevens and Josh O’Neill with the help of their good friend (and the books Editor, I might add) Andrew Carl. Over the course of three years these men worked tirelessly to make this book become a reality, and now with the assistance of Dark Horse Comics (who published the book alongside Locust Moon Press) it is now available worldwide for people to experience the magic. After I had finished reading the book I managed to sit down and talk to editor and writer Andrew Carl about it, and when asked what the book really was, he had this to say-
“We wanted to create something that could speak to everyone, whether they read comics or not. We saw these fables as sort of a common ground that many people have, but at the same time we wanted to make everything very fresh and new! We gave our artists and writers an opportunity to really go crazy and get as imaginative as possible within that familiar framework.”
Okay, so now you’re asking “well you keep going on about this Once Upon A Time Machine book, but you aren’t really saying much about it besides how good it is…” So what exactly makes this book so good? Everything! As previously mentioned this book is an anthology spanning around four-hundred and twenty pages filled with stories that will blow your mind! While these are all new takes on classics like Pinocchio, John Henry, and The Three Little Pigs, these are all vastly imaginative takes on the original stories that make many of them border upon being unrecognizable! While the stories all stay true to the basic elements of the originals, they set forth to redefine why we love these classic tales and bring them into the modern age with new science-fiction based styling. Each story feels unique in itself and although many of us have read these stories before, these fresh new versions really allow the readers to see them in an entirely new light.
While these brand new sci-fi twists on age old stories are great for the readers imagination, the astonishingly diverse artwork that is featured throughout the book leaves you visually satisfied with a veritable cornucopia of different styles to take in. Every page is a masterpiece within itself, with twenty-five full stories being told throughout the book and another twenty-five full page pin-ups that manage to tell entire stories in only a page (or two, in some cases). These inventive renditions of these stories that almost everyone has had some experience with make this book a great read for people of all ages from any generation! It is truly rare that you can find a book that is just as appealing to a six-year-old as it is to a sixty-year-old.
Personally, my favorite excerpts from the book were probably The Three Musketeers, 1001 Nights and The Tortoise & The Hair. They were all exceptionally well done and felt like entirely original takes on the stories they were loosely based on. My single favorite story in the book though, was the classic Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, which was nothing short of amazing. The thought put into the transformation of this timeless story of Cobra-vs.-Mongoose is brilliantly composed, giving the book one of it’s best stories both literally and artistically.
While there are a few stories that are a little less than stunning (although I won’t point them out here, figure them out for yourself!), the overall feel of the book is incredibly impressive and when you’ve managed to get through the whole thing you feel as though you’ve accomplished something. This book is well worth picking up and reading. With a cover price of only $24.99, you get twenty-five great sci-fi fantasy stories all mashed into one neat little package for your mind’s consumption! Don’t wait too long, as the book as been selling out rather quickly. I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Once Upon A Time Machine today!