Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Oh. My. God. Have you heard!? Palace. Ball. Tonight."
"I know! It's going to be epic."
"OK, it is on," thought Princess Dionysia. "Situation just got real."
Ha ha! It certainly has, and you wait until you clap eyes on what she'll be rocking to that ball!
"State-of-the-art, ultra high-tech embroidery science allowed the dressmakers to decorate it with whole galaxies... And within those galaxies, realistically detailed exo-planets, each one complete with its own alien geography, eco-systems and complex societies."
That's a tall order for any artist, but believe it or not Adam Murphy has fashioned a gown which looks as dazzling as that description. What a triumph in cosmically star-strewn blue, black and purple!
There's a similarly spectacular shot of the heavens over America's north-east coast in the very first fable as a young, picked-upon sister is the only member of her tribe to be able to see the otherwise invisible great warrior, Strong Wind. And he is celestial!
From the creator of the two CORPSE TALK volumes which you'll find in our all-ages PHOENIX COMIC section comes another graphic novel original serialised in that hallmark of quality.
It contains eight exotic tales from across the globe and throughout the ages brought to wit-ridden life with an engagingly conversational, often conspiratorial twang sprinkled ever so merrily with current colloquialisms to wring maximum mischief from their ostensibly traditional form.
"The prince is here as well? You're really in for it now..."
Stuffiness is an anathema to Adam Murphy, and he has so many storytelling tricks up his idiosyncratic sleeve to ensure that kids and adults alike are not just transfixed but grinning from ear to ear.
Overwhelmingly they're tales of justice, injustice and almost invariably poetic justice during which Adam can break off at any moment to comment on what's going down:
"Whoa! That escalated quickly....
"What is wrong with these two? I mean seriously, have they no moral compass of any sort?"
In these instances he leaves his visual storytelling skills to show you the specific misdemeanours that his miscreants are up to, and it gets funnier each time, because if you thought the Scottish landowners' last crime was ghastly....
"Oh no. You absolutely vile idiots. Don't do it!
" - sigh - They did it."
Murphy knows full well the mirth that lies in a refrain repeated with just the right timing, as when an African king tries to get to the bottom of a dispute between an honest merchant and his duplicitous fellow traveller who's only gone and claimed the former's property for his own, the wretch.
"You know, if there's one thing I can't stand..." says the King first time round. Then:
"Well, if there's another thing I can't stand...." after which
"One thing I really can't stand...." and finally
"If there's one thing I really just can't stand..."
... before the truth is revealed by a lie. Clever!
LOST TALES' cover promises some exceptional beauty within and it delivers, every one of these fables finishing with a full-page, landscape flourish which is to die for. I wish I could show you them but since most constitute the punchline or at least resolution to the crafty endeavours or woeful miscalculations, I can't. Typically the one that brought a tear to my eye was one of the happiest, but there is one so shockingly sad resolution - or, more accurately non-resolution - that I was totally taken aback and relieved it wasn't the last.
The last, set in Scotland has to be my favourite simply on account of the sheer wealth of extras which Murphy brings to it as a storyteller. They all feature his trademark, seemingly off-the-cut commentary, but that one is particularly packed with little tricks of the trade to embrace the reader in such a way as to offer you the illusion that you're watching the shameless shenanigans unfold alongside the narrator himself.
This book would be the most enormous joy to read out loud to your youngsters (I've practised in my head because it demands to be done), and it comes with the addictive trait of making you desperate to know what will happen next. In the spirit of which, I leave you with this pearl of wisdom:
"We are all just pages in the Great Book of Allah. Sometimes we just have to accept His will..."
"Not very helpful..."
"I said sometimes.... Other times, He's waiting to see what you're going to do about it..."