Page 45 Review by Stephen
Before the anodyne days demanding a feel-good-factor Hollywood ending, children's fairy tales were scary tales through and through, and we should all rejoice that the likes of Metaphrog are rekindling that fire and brimstone both here and in THE RED SHOES.
Yes, it's dire warnings for all in THE LITTLE MERMAID as an underwater world of visually evoked wonder, prospects aplenty and the innocent fondling of sensual marble statues gives grass-greener way to dreams of the impossible and - when made possible by a witch's brew about which the side-effects, possible pitfalls and other potential repercussions are made perfectly clear (death, that sort of thing) - all this wonder and innocence and all those prospects of bobbing along quite contentedly on the bottom of the beautiful briny (shimmering, shiny) sea turns to dry-land, abject misery.
Yes misery, children, misery!
Be careful what you wish for, look before you leap, and don't get ideas above your station or at the very least your regular tideline.
Also: life is cruel and unfair, plus stilettos are a bitch.
Don't you just love those proscriptive, prohibitive, cautionary, finger-wagging tut-tuts of woe? No, nor did William Blake:
"No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings".
- 'The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell'.
The thing is, though, that's not really what this is; plus: she gives up her sub-aquatic wings for something that emphatically isn't her own, and you don't exactly choose who you fall in love with.
LOVE IS LOVE, a most wonderful thing. Shame it seems to involve so much self-sacrifice.
The titular Little Mermaid falls in love with a human prince first spied dancing on a galleon with women wearing split dresses down the sides, revealing their lovely long legs. He looks just like her treasured marble statue. The ship is struck by lightning and sinks.
Oh, how she swims! She saves her dear prince from drowning by propping him all night long in the raging, storm-tossed sea until at dawn they reach land. He is unconscious all through this episode; she is exhausted. And when three girls approach she retires to hide behind a rock. The prince has no idea who has saved him, but he knows whom he first spies upon waking.
The Little Mermaid cannot let this lie, for she is completely and utterly in lust.
Sorry, it's probably love. Love, lust, infatuation: who can tell except in retrospect?
This review is getting away from me.
So she makes a deal not with the devil but with a sea-witch and not all witches are evil. Most of those I know are lovelies! Hello! *hugs*
No, that's just children's fairy tales.
This witch is as kind as you like in giving the Little Mermaid an opportunity to seek what she most desires and is open and honest about what might go wrong. Well, she does demand payment: the Little Mermaid's voice.
The one cautionary element which I would pick up on in this gorgeous graphic novel - and endorse 100 percent - is that you never agree to give up your voice.
Do you see that Page 45 accepts no advertising on its website? I am grateful to all (especially to co-workers and customers) but I will be beholden to no one. It's a trust thing, you see. Recommendations, personal relationships and socio-political stances are all about trust, and I will never give up my voice.
The Little Mermaid gives up her voice.
I don't know who does what at Metaphrog - Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers are as one - and I kind of like that. No, I really, really like that, for comics is a composite visual and (but not necessarily) verbal medium and both elements in comics are narrative. I know them both vaguely but have never thought to ask who does what because I don't care: between them they are exceptional storytellers.
There is a tenderness and femininity here where it counts; a sensual aspect too. A luring, exotic nature to the form and colours which to my mind are Indian when those count most, putting you in the metaphorical feet / flippers / shoes of the smitten protagonist: you experience first-hand her dazzled attraction to this world of new wonders, however exotic the one she forsakes. And at fifteen you just want it all, don't you?
I like that when the ship goes down (as do the lights) then so do the words.
Also highly recommended for tears before bedtime then long into that cold and dark night: Neil Gaiman & Lorenzo Mattotti's restoration of the "grim" into The Brothers Grimm HANSEL & GRETEL and (speaking of Los Bros Darkity-Darkoss) Shaun Tan's THE SINGING BONES album of exquisitely sculpted then thoughtfully photographed beauty.