Graphic novelists metaphrog are writer John Chalmers and artist Sandra Marrs who are best known for the Louis series of GNs that have been nominated for Eisner Awards. Their latest title is a limited edition 20 page, A5 landscape format comic entitled Winter’s Tales which contains two separate but thematically similar stories, metaphrog’s take on Hans Christian Anderson’s bittersweet 1845 tale of The Little Match Girl, as well as their own new story The Glass Case.
The Little Match Girl will be a familiar tale for many of a young girl attempting to sell matches on a freezing cold New Year’s Eve who eventually has to strike them in an attempt to keep herself warm and in their light sees what she does not have. The sepia-coloured story has no speech balloons, rendering it effectively silent, which does much to emphasise the loneliness of the girl being ignored by the literally faceless people passing her by. The story is instead told via text boxes, indeed some panels are simply text boxes which do much to enhance the telling of the story with their striking simplicity of design.
The Glass Case is a tale of a boy who becomes fascinated by a doll called Molly in a museum that seems to offer him more safety that his own home does. In this story speech balloons are used as the boy and the doll talk to each other through the glass of her display case. The sepia-colouring is retained for what is effectively a modern-day tale set in, though never explicitly stated, the Museum Of Childhood on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile yet it is just as bittersweet as the Anderson adaptation. At a mere six pages The Glass Case is a tale of the unexpected/future shock style story while The Little Match Girl benefits from its longer ten pages.
metaphrog publications are known for their quality not just in the writing and artwork but in the printing and Winter’s Tales is no different with the artwork on silk art paper behind a matt laminate soft cover. Indeed, as it is published in a landscape format, it forces the reader to hold it in what for many is an unfamiliar way which, if anything, emphasises the tactile sensation of the publication, something that is lost with modern e-comics.
Winter’s Tales may only be 20 pages long, but they are 20 beautiful pages of art, writing and printing. It is also a limited edition, signed and numbered to 200 copies and only available during December 2013. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present and buy one – you won’t be disappointed.