The Book of Ballads

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Illustrated and presented by one of the leading artists in modern fantasy, here are the great songs and folktales of the English, Irish, and Scottish traditions, re-imagined in sequential-art form, in collaboration with some of today's strongest fantasy writers.

Here are New York Times bestseller Neil Gaiman with "The False Knight on the Road"; popular mystery author Sharyn McCrumb's version of "Thomas the Rhymer"; acclaimed children's writer Jane Yolen with "King Henry" and ...

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Overview

Illustrated and presented by one of the leading artists in modern fantasy, here are the great songs and folktales of the English, Irish, and Scottish traditions, re-imagined in sequential-art form, in collaboration with some of today's strongest fantasy writers.

Here are New York Times bestseller Neil Gaiman with "The False Knight on the Road"; popular mystery author Sharyn McCrumb's version of "Thomas the Rhymer"; acclaimed children's writer Jane Yolen with "King Henry" and "The Great Selchie of Sule Skerrie"; popular novelist Charles de Lint's contemporary reworking of "Twa Corbies"; Bone creator Jeff Smith with "The Galtee Farmer"; Emma Bull's version of "The Black Fox," and much, much more.

Introduced by award-winning editor and writer Terri Windling, and finished with full lyrics and discographies of the classic versions of these songs and tales, The Book of Ballads is an event in the worlds of fantasy and graphic storytelling alike.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Two-time World Fantasy Award-winning artist Charles Vess and an all-star cast of contemporary fantasists join forces in this unique reworking of ballads, folktales, and magical sagas. The selections offer a new slant on old favorites: Neil Gaiman retells "The False Knight on the Road"; Jane Yolen offers her version of "King Henry" and "The Great Selchie of Sule Skerrie"; Charles de Lint reworks "Twa Corbies"; Jeff Smith updates "The Galtee Farmer"; and mystery author Sharyn McCrumb reimagines "Thomas the Rhymer." As a special feature, The Book of Ballad contains the full lyrics and discographies of the classic versions of these songs and tales.
Publishers Weekly
Ballads were little known to the literate world until the 18th century, when scholars began writing them down. Since then, they've received attention from folklorists, folksingers and, now, cartoonist Vess (Stardust; Rose). Vess and his collaborators put a little meat on the ballads' often bare-bones stories, adding fantastic elements not in the originals ("Barbara Allen"), giving them modern settings ("Twa Corbies"), sexing them up ("Savoy") and otherwise putting their own mark on them. Vess approaches them with an appropriately elegant style. His exquisitely detailed art delightfully recalls the Pre-Raphaelites here, Aubrey Beardsley there and elsewhere Winsor McCay or Gustave Dor . The best stories involve passion, whether celebrated ("King Henry" and "Savoy") or cautioned against ("The Demon Lover" and "The Three Lovers"), though even the least effective stories are still beautiful. "The Three Lovers" is especially noteworthy; in it, Vess makes clever, subversive use of comics language, presenting a story that pretends to be a play (complete with proscenium arch). "Tam Lin" may be the collection's consummate piece. In it, Vess goes for straight illustration, with each illustrated page facing a page of verse. Here Vess reaches the peak of his art, standing proudly with the 19th- and early 20th-century illustrators who influence him. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Compiled and illustrated by Charles Vess, this volume employs the writing talents of such authors as Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen and Charles de Lint. Each entry in this work is an interpretation of either a Scottish, Irish or English ballad; some stay true to the linguistic structure, while some of the pieces are more interpretive. Gaiman's adaptation of "The False Knight on the Road" simplifies the heavily accented original form of the ballad, though it remains faithful to the basic storyline. Emma Bull's "The Black Fox" utilizes a more contemporary vernacular in its form, though like Gaiman's piece it stays true to the themes of the ballad, capturing its essence. With a different author of every ballad, Vess's line-driven art acts as a cohesive element for the volume. The art is consistent throughout the work, but the format of the stories is not; some are in a traditional comic panel format, and some are akin to picture-book conventions. While compelling, this volume may not have a wide appeal to teens due to the complexity of the subject matter, and some heavily sensual scenes may keep it out of some collections. Recommend this to more mature fans of Eureka's Graphic Classics series or those specifically interested in songs of the United Kingdom. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2006, Tor, 192p. illus., Ages 15 to adult.
—Jennifer Feigelman
From the Publisher

"A cloth of rare delight."
--James Gurney, author of Dinotopia, on The Book of Ballads

"[Vess's] exquisitely detailed art delightfully recalls the Pre-Raphaelites here, Aubrey Beardsley there and elsewhere Winsor McCay or Gustave Doré…Here Vess reaches the peak of his art, standing proudly with the 19th- and early 20th-century illustrators who influence him."
--Publishers Weekly on The Book of Ballads

"If you're a fan of both traditional folk music and comic books, there's no way you should miss Charles Vess' Book of Ballads."
--Dirty Linen

"Vess's work is as slyly subversive as the young Rossetti, Morris, and Burne-Jones . . . and it has captivated large audiences for many of the same reasons. By wedding mythic and folkloric material to a distinctly modern form of visual storytelling, this artist is keeping myth alive, and creating a magic all his own."
--Terri Windling on The Book of Ballads

James Gurney

"A cloth of rare delight."
Dirty Linen

"If you're a fan of both traditional folk music and comic books, there's no way you should miss [this]."
Terri Windling

"This artist is keeping myth alive, and creating a magic all his own."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765312143
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 7.04 (w) x 10.64 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

As an illustrator and as a collaborator, Charles Vess has worked with Neil Gaiman, with whom he shared a World Fantasy Award for the "Midsummer Night's Dream" issue of Sandman; with Charles de Lint on children's books and illustrated novels; and with Jeff Smith on the Bone prequel Rose. Vess has won the World Fantasy Award twice. His Ballads series won him the comic-book industry's prestigious Eisner award. He is currently illustrating a special limited edition of George R. R. Martin's bestselling A Storm of Swords.
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Table of Contents

"Introduction," by Terri Windling
"The False Knight on the Road," with Neil Gaiman
"King Henry," with Jane Yolen
"Thomas the Rhymer," with Sharyn McCrumb
"Barbara Allen," with Midori Snyder
"The Three Lovers," with Lee Smith
"Tam-Lin," with Elaine Lee
"The Daemon Lover," with Delia Sherman
"Twa Corbies," with Charles de Lint
"Sovay," with Charles de Lint
"The Galtee Farmer," with Jeff Smith
"Alison Gross"
"The Black Fox," with Emma Bull
"The Great Selchie of Sule Skerry," with Jane Yolen
"Discography," by Ken Roseman

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great graphic novel

    Fantasy and comic book illustrator Charles Vess (see his work on the early Sandman comic books) provides thirteen illustrative stories written by eleven different highly regarded authors that are based on famous ballads. The tales are cleverly conceived as Mr. Vess and a renowned fantasist take a well known verse and turns it into a delightful illustrated story. The original ballad follows the animated tale for those who seek the complete package. The pictures are in black and white, but that brings a historical feel to the retelling of the ballads; thus this enhances the conversion as color would make it prettier, but subtract from the wonderful total affect. A rather different type of anthology, fans of graphic tales will appreciate this marvelous unique collection that contains wonderful interpretations of famous ballads like the Black Fox and Thomas the Rhymer by a who¿s who of fantasy................ Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2004

    Beautiful

    I'm so glad this volume was published! The illustrations are wonderful. I was able to read familiar tales in new skins and discover new ones as well. All of my favorite authors are here, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, Charles de Lint. I didn't think it possible to better their words until I saw them paired with Vess' illustrations. You will not be dissapointed! I would especially recommend this for those who are interested in the old tales but not familiar with them yet. And follow up on the music recommendations! They are worth it. If you enjoy any of the following - art, music, folktales, fantasy, mystery, comics, fairy tales - you or someone you love will love this book!

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