Charles Vess’ Book of Ballads & Sagas

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Virtually every art form has a little touch of magic in it. From oil paintings and watercolors to sketches and sculptures, the inanimate can somehow come to life in the hands of a capable artist. But one art form that seems underappreciated these days is pen-and-ink, a seemingly simple style that offers incredible opportunity for depth, resonance, tone, and emotional content.

That has rarely been on display better than in Charles Vess’ Book of Ballads & Sagas, a compendium of retold legends from English, Irish, and Scottish lore, folk tales, and fairy tales, brought to life in charming fashion by a deft pen.

From universally loved classics like Tam-Lin and Barbara Allen to lesser known stories, the sinister and lighthearted yarns alike are reborn in marvelous two-tone aesthetics. Some retain their traditional narrative trappings, while others, like “The Three Lovers,” are reinvented, adding depth by reimagining the work as a play or an allegory bookended by a storyteller’s observations.

And although there is a distinct style at play here, each story feels unique, individually tailored with darker etchings or swooping open curves to help define the narrative. It’s lovely work all around, and even if you know the stories, you’ve never seen them quite like this.


Reviewed By:

Author Charles Vess • Neil Gaiman • Charles De Lint
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Titan Comics
Publish Date 2018-11-27
ISBN 9781782763321
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2019
Category Sequential Art
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