Friday, March 13, 2015

Me on Valor

Title: Valor
Editors: Isabelle Melançon & Megan Lavey-Heaton
Artists & Writers: Isabelle Melançon, Megan Lavey-Heaton, Jayd Aït-Kaci, Elena "Yamino" Barbarich, Ash Barnes, Morgan Beem, Cory Brown, Ran Brown, Meaghan Carter, Nicole Chartrand, Kadi Fedoruk, Tim Ferarra, Sara Goetter, Emily Hann, Megan Kearney, Michelle "Misha" Krivanek, Justin Lanjil, Angelica Maria Lopez, Laura Neubert, Alexandra Singer, Katie Shanahan, Steven "Shaggy" Shanahan, Annie Stohl, Joanne Webster

Valor is a comic anthology of re-imaged fairy tales showcasing the talent of some of the top creators in the field of digital comics. The purpose of this book is to pay homage to the strength, resourcefulness, and cunning of female heroines in fairy tales. Some of these are recreations of time-honored tales. Others are brand new stories, designed to be passed to future generations.

Valor is fun, adventurous, different, wonderful. All the positive adjectives I can think of. Bright, colourful, expressive artwork combined with rich storytelling. Each story is anchored by a heroine who fights monsters, stands up for herself in dangerous times, or rescues loved ones. Because there are 23 stories, comic and prose, it's a bit hard for me to review each one. All are anchored by heroines going off on quests, taking matters into their own hands. There are white, black, Asian, and even metal heroines. There are straight and gay heroines. They can and do rely on others for support, but these are their stories. Their adventures. Their time to kick butt and take names, if the situation calls for it. As always with anthologies, there are some stories I liked more than others.

There's Prunella by Isabella Melançon and Megan Lavey-Heaton, where Prunella's scowl is captured perfectly, where she toils away for a witch that cursed her, where she keeps on working for the witch because she pays well. Prunella is grouchy and stubborn but fiercely loyal.

There's Bride of the Rose Beast by Michelle Krivanek, the story of Kari, forced to marry a monster made from a queen's greediness, and the plan to keep the monster from devouring her on their wedding night.

There's Crane Wife by Alex Singer and Jayd Aït-Kaci (text by Ariana Maher), with soft, gorgeous artwork accompanying a heartbreaking story about an injured crane lost in a snow storm and the gift she gave to the hunter who saved her.

There's The Flower in the Gravel by Angelica Maria Lopez, bright with colour, about an abandoned tower of treasure guarded by a dragon and a young girl who doesn't believe in any of that foolish talk. Instead, she races headfirst into a tower filled with dangerous traps to find the greatest treasure of all.

There's Lady Tilda and the Dragon by Sara Goetter, a wordless, emotional tale of Lady Tilda and the dragon she meets in a dark, creepy cave. The artwork is sweet and expressive. I loved how the characters and the setting told the story, making words useless. The ending always leaves me teary-eyed.

And there's Winter's Gift by Joanne Webster and Isabelle Melançon (letters by Megan Lavey-Heaton), about a rabbit travelling through the seasons, using her clever mind and clever wit to outsmart three of them on her journey to the fourth to ask for the rabbits' gift. Bunny never says no, just talks her way around and out of traps, showing that those who look weak aren't necessarily weak.

If you ever get a chance to read this, read it. It's fun and smart, filled with strong and clever female characters who take matters into their own hands.

(I received an e-book copy of this anthology after backing the project on Kickstarter.)

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