Emily Carroll gets under my skin.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 7.58.21 PMI have a raging girl crush on Canadian artist and writer Emily Carroll. She has single-handedly shown me that graphic novels and webcomics aren’t just for boys in love with guns. Sure, her comics are violent, but not in the POW! BANG! way of vintage superheroes and their incompetent nemeses. Carroll’s stories are violent in a slow, creeping way. They are dark and twisted, like the original Grimm’s fairytales (nothing like that sanitized Disney junk).

She writes fables and horror stories, fairytales and mysteries, and illustrates them beautifully. There is a layer of mistiness to each image, a sense of distance, a gray wash that only enhances the shock of crimson that comes later (sometimes it’s blood, but sometimes the horror is something else entirely).

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.09.41 PMI had my own little Christmas book flood this year (or in Icelandic, Jolabokaflod) and one of the books I received was Through The Woods, a print collection of Carroll’s webcomics and stories. Some of these are available to read online, including “His Face All Red,” a fantastic story of two brothers and a wolf, and “Out of Skin,” which is about a crone who finds herself suffocating in human skin. They’re spooky and wonderful—wholly original fairytales that pay tribute to the history the genre without being beholden to it.

Go read them on her site, or better yet, buy a copy of her book. It’s the kind of heavy book that keeps you coming back to it (I’ve read it twice already). Despite containing relatively few words, it is captivating in a literary sense and in a can’t-look-away-can’t-look-at-it sense. Also, I’ve realized that graphic novels are great because they make me slow way down and pay attention to exactly what I’m looking at. You can’t rush through them. You have to read the pictures, to pause and look at them, to suss out the clues buried within each pen stroke.

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Grimm plus Gorey equals macabre fairytale perfection.

grimmgorey
Edward Gorey once illustrated classic fairytales from The Brothers Grimm, retold in sparse but humorous language by author James Donnelly. How did I not know this?!? What a perfect combination. If I had a kid, I would buy this for them straightaway. rumpelstiltskinIn case you couldn’t tell, the top picture shows Little Red Riding Hood meeting that big, bad wolf in the forest before it runs off to do some mild cross-dressing. The second picture is Rumpelstiltskin, that little gnome-y scoundrel, dancing in the forest and celebrating the victory that will never be his.

Buy the book here.

Bloody good stuff: illustrators cover Angela Carter.

Company of Wolves by Sidsel Sorensen Angela Carter is the fairy godmother of modern fairytales. Twisted and clever, Carter turns the classics upside down, subverting them in sensual, strange, provocative ways. I like it! Can you tell?

And if there is anything I’ve learned from working at a magazine, it’s that great stories need great visuals. Well, maybe they don’t need them (the oral tradition would beg to differ) but they definitely benefit from the right images. Knowing that, The Guardian issued a call for entries for Carter’s best work. The results are just fantastic. My favorite is this one: Sidsel Sørensen draws “The Company of Wolves.”

See them all here.