LITTLE LIT, the brainchild of comics master Art Spiegelman, was created to fill a void in comics: There is nothing out there anymore for kids. He looked around himself and saw talent brimming over the surface, but no one creating for the people who made comics popular in the first place. On the back, it says, "COMICS -- They're not just for grown-ups anymore!" The oversize hardcover is a collection of seventeen artists -- some comics creators, some illustrators, some children's book authors -- for this book of fairy tales. Let me say straight out that the art is downright beautiful. Gorgeous. Breathtaking. However, with the exception of one Japanese folk tale, there is absolutely no diversity: All white, and mostly male. There is no excuse for that. Beyond that, however, most of this book is solid gold.
Firstly, it's designed by Chip "BATMAN: ANIMATED" Kidd. He is, quite simply, the best graphic designer in the business. In this volume, he strikes the perfect balance between old-fashioned and avant-garde design. And the covers (no dust jacket -- just the leather hardcover) are by Art Spiegelman. The paper is thick and matte. The only problem here is that the book seems a little fragile, like the pages will come out at the slightest provocation. But I could be wrong about that.
"Prince Rooster" (Spiegelman), "The Leafless Tree" (Joost Swarte), "The Two Hunchbacks" (Lorenzo Mattotti), "The Baker's Daughter" (Harry Bliss), and "The Princess and the Pea" are all lushly drawn, fairly simple fairy tales. "Humpty Trouble" (William Joyce) and "Jack and the Beanstalk" (David Macaulay) are light satires. "The Hungry Horse" (Kaz) is a wonderful story, my favorite *story* of the batch, but "The Fisherman and the Sea Princess" (David Mazzuchelli), the Japanese folk tale is my favorite overall. The only story here that I don't like is "The Sleeping Beauty" (the ending that nobody knows) by Daniel Clowes, because he can't draw people who look good or smile or anything that you need in a fairy tale. Also thrown in is a lost Walt Kelly cartoon, "The Gingerbread Man," originally from FAIRY TALE PARADE (?!) in the 40's. Shorter features are a memory game, a laugh-out-loud "What's Wrong With This Picture," find the twins, and Spookyland (Charles Burns), which is absolutely terrifying -- I think it's too scary for little kids myself. In the front and back is FAIRY TALE ROAD RAGE (Chris Ware), a game with little cars to assemble and chits to punch out and instructions to read. Essentially, you move around the board and create a story by picking random chits and putting them in the appropriate places on your card. When it fills up, you read the story and make up a moral. It's a lot of fun. And the pictures and instructions are absolutely hilarious.
All in all, this book is highly recommended for small children of any age! :)
E-mail if you would like to discuss (firstname.lastname@example.org) ...... -Koby.