Did you ever have a favorite fairy tale when you were a kid? If you didn’t, now you can have one as a grown-up.
Shame is a story, cunningly crafted by writer Lovern Kindzierski (whose very name evokes images from the Black Forest itself), about the need for those who stand for good to be ever vigilant against the persistent influence of evil. It’s a fable wonderfully imaged by John Bolton, whose work in comics is sadly under-utilized. Remember The Books of Magic? Simply mesmerizing.
In Book One of the trilogy, Shame: Conception, we are introduced to Mother Virtue, a kindly village wise-woman who cares for the villagers’ ailments and loved by all, especially the children. In her life, Mother Virtue has never had a selfish thought, but one night, she yearns for a daughter of her own. The evil spirit of ignorance, Slur, overhears the selfish wish and uses it to magically father a child upon the noble Mother Virtue – a child of limitless evil named Shame.
What a twisted premise for a fairy tale. Of course, this is obviously a fable meant for adults who can begin to appreciate the warped genius behind Slur’s curse: inflicting an evil child upon a good parent. Of course, Mother Virtue comes to realize that her child cannot be let out into the world. She casts a spell to entice local dryads from the nearby flora to care for Shame and turns her home into a protective dwelling/prison to keep Shame hidden. And then, knowing that her own love for Shame could lead her to let Shame loose upon the world, Mother Virtue then abandons her daughter despite her love for her.
It’s a true testament to the resilience of good. In Book Two, Shame: Pursuit, Slur and Shame have combined their powers, Mother Virtue’s form has changed and Shame is free. Mother Virtue is now the prisoner and Shame is following her father’s ambitions. Still, after a lifetime of imprisonment, Mother Virtue still retains her faith and continues to prepare for the time when she will, though reluctantly, challenge her child.
In fairy tales, female characters are often powerful ones (contrary to the notion that fairy tales indoctrinate sexist fantasies). The characters in these comics are sterling archtypical fairy tale female literary characters that rely upon their sense of will and purpose rather than their powers. These are not your typical comic villains or heroes who proudly announce their intentions: Mother Virtue is kind, merciful, but no thrall to evil and her actions show her character to its fullest. Shame is thoroughly wicked and simply performs her plans with a steadfast malevolence, rather than waste time on boasting or bragging. Their actions demonstrate their force of will and this makes them completely believable.
The third book in the trilogy is to be released in 2014, but will it be a happy ending? The story is dark but spellbinding, and the art’s gorgeous realism makes the tale compelling and take on a life of its own. Whatever ending, the final volume will have in store, there can be no doubt that this is a grown-up’s fairy tale that demands one’s attention and to remind people of the need to be good in this world.[subscribe2]