Peter & Max: A Fables Novel

Although I have been a fan of Bill Willingham’s “Fables” comic series for years, I only recently had the opportunity to read the series’ first ever full-length novel, “Peter & Max.”  The book centered around the characters of Peter Piper, his wife Bo Peep, and his evil brother Max Piper.

 

Here is the beautiful cover art from Bill Willingham's novel, "Peter & Max."

Because the name “Peter” crops up in so many familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes, Willingham is able to combine all of these stories into the life of one individual, masterfully placing the stories of “Peter and the Wolf” (which is not actually a fairy tale), “Peter Piper,”  and “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” on a logical time-line.  These stories are also woven around the tales and misadventures of Max, who is the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

As with his Fables comic series, Willingham’s book offers us a seamless blend of magical and modern.  He describes both the skyscrapers of New York in the twenty-first century and the intricacies of ancient and mystical worlds with ease.  Not only that, but he brings his customary twist of darkness and tragedy to every familiar tale he incorporates.  Although they retain their flavors, these stories are anything but predictable.

Willingham also makes it possible for both old fans and new readers to enjoy his book.  The details of the Fables world are quickly described at the start of the novel, making this a book I would recommend to any lover of fairy tales or fantasy.

Steampunk Fairy Tales

Steampunk and fairy tales are two genres that really seem to mix well together.  As the steampunk subculture of cogs, goggles, and zeppelins becomes more popular, more and more artists are combining the two.  Examples of this can be seen all over the internet, but I would like to share a few of my favorites.

“Steam Piper of Hamelin” by Timothy Terrenal

 

This steampunk rendition of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” is absolutely gorgeous and takes advantage of what steampunk does best, combining magic and clockwork/steam technology.  The children’s tiny goggles and top hats show that Terrenal has done his steampunk research and is not simply a fan of soul-sucking robots.  I admit I would love to read a Pied Piper retelling based on this amazing illustration.  To see more work by Timothy Terrenal, visit his DeviantArt gallery.

 

“Steampunk Fairytale” by ~AkaiSoul

What a fantastic version of Little Red!  I sometimes get tired of fairy tale heroines who are little more than damsels in distress; this one, however, looks like she can defend herself.  In fact, one of her hands is behind her back, so she might even be holding some kind of steampunk weapon just out of sight.  Although this style is a little less realistic than that of the Pied Piper, I love the attention to detail and the air of whimsy.  I know I said this about the last drawing, but it would be incredible to read a retelling based on this image!  More of ~AkaiSoul’s work can be viewed at her DeviantArt gallery.

“Steampunk Cinderella” by ~HelleeTitch

 

Deviant artist ~HelleeTitch does steampunk princesses in a different way; instead of focusing on fairy tales in general, she works specifically on steaming up the classic Disney girls.  Although I generally prefer my steampunk (and my fairy tales, for that matter) a little darker than this, her work is fun and lighthearted.  Plus, it’s interesting to see what she does with all the different characters.  To see her other princesses, check out her DeviantArt gallery.

As time goes on, I hope to see more crossover between these genres.  Of course, plenty already exists, as can be seen above.  There are some especially lovely renditions of Alice, from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  Too bad that’s not actually a fairy tale; they’re gorgeous, and I would have loved to include some!

%d bloggers like this: