With two Snow White films out this year alongside Brave, not to mention Jack with his beanstalk and Hansel and Gretel hitting screens in 2012, fairy tales are big business once again. Ahead of the curve then comes Into the Woods, a fairytale anthology, released back in February. Nine individual stories play on the fairytale theme in stunning black and white, and for the very tempting £5 price tag.
Anthology comics are a particular favourite of mine, from the flowing narrative of Nelson to the clashing styles of Team Girl Comic, and Into The Woods was a book I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about - not least due to the stellar line-up of small press writers and artists on board. My own affection for horror and twisted tales further piqued my interest, as fairytales are perhaps the ultimate source of grisly ends.
Happily, my high expectations were met, and Into The Woods serves as a great platform for some of the up and coming talent in the UK comics industry today. Hit the jump for my full spoiler-free review!
Andy Bloor's gorgeous cover is almost enough to sell this comic by itself. A creeping menace, the blend of real and fantasy, a girl who is prey but perhaps with more to her than it seems... it's a cracking start.
Into The Woods, edited by Stacey Whittle, contains nine individual stories: Red Riding Hood; A Time For A Change; The Madness From The Sea; Samhain; The Lang Pack; Blood And Sacrifice; Changeling; The Black Shoes; Amber And The Egg. It is worth noting that there are three women artists in this book, as well as Vicky Stonebridge who provided the back cover art, and the editor herself.
In an effort to avoid spoilers I will mention only briefly my favourite stories. A Time For A Change, written by Ollie Masters with art by Valia Kapadai, is a lovely gentle story that contrasts nicely with some of the darker tales within the anthology, yet still has some rather grotesque imagery that segues nicely with the overall flow. The Madness From The Sea, written by Scott Harrison with art by Lee Grice, has a wonderfully Lovecraftian feel and an excellent line technique that reflects the wild weather and storyline.
Blood And Sacrifice, created by Stu.Art, has some genuinely stand out art, with bold lines, excellent panel composition. This tense comic would not look at all out of place in 2000 AD.
Changeling, written by Alexi Conman with art by Conor Boyle, is a tightly plotted uncomfortable story that will stay with you long after you've finished reading. First person narratives are a favourite of mine, though notoriously difficult to pull off, but it's handled well here, adding to the claustrophobic build of desperation. A couple of out of panel illustrations are fantastic. And finally Amber And The Egg, written by Nic Papaconstantinou with art by Bevis Musson, is a super cute little tale that is an inspired choice to finish the book with. Musson's clean art style is very polished, though I must admit I'd love to see it lifted up a little by colour.
Overall, this is a really impressive little anthology, and well worth the £5. Hopefully this will lead to more stand out anthologies from editor Stacey Whittle, as this is a fantastic way to not only showcase talented comic creators, but to celebrate the diversity of comics too.
Editor: Stacey Whittle
Front Cover Art & Book Design: Andy Bloor
Cover Colours: Steve Howard
Back Cover Art: Vicky Stonebridge
Red Riding Hood: Richard McAuliffe, Sara Dunkerton
A Time For A Change: Ollie Masters, Valia Kapadai
The Madness From The Sea: Scott Harrison, Lee Grice, Filip Roncone
Samhain: Matthew Gibbs, Alice Duke
The Lang Pack: Lee Robson, Simon Wyatt, Filip Roncone
Blood And Sacrifice: Stu.Art
Changeling: Alexi Conman, Conor Boyle
The Black Shoes: Daniel Clifford, David Wynne, Ian Sharman
Amber And The Egg: Nic Papaconstantinou, Bevis Musson, Filip Roncone