Peter & Max, A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham, Illustrated by Steve Leilahola
Peter Piper uses the flute Frost and his brother Max Piper, the flute Fire in this story of fairytales, love and magic. It is a tale of light and dark. One brother is a thief and trickster, the other a murderer and dark magician.
Max Piper is the representation of the Pied Piper who piped the children out of Hamelin. Hamelin plays a part both in our world and the world of fairy. There are many magical places including the house of the witch of the Black Forest, and the dark woods. Max Piper represents the dark fairytale in this novel. The part which kills the father, ensorcels people against their will, and spreads disease and strife. The juxtaposition is very well done.
Peter Piper is the lighter side of fairytales, you can represent where passages of the novel come right out of childrens nursery rhymes. Peter, Peter pumpkin eater had a wife and couldn't keep her and Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers so where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. Peter Piper even gets marred to Bo Peep. Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep, And can't tell where to find them, Leave them alone, And They'll come home, Wagging their tales behind them.
Somehow, through a magic all his own, Bill Willingham creates a complete story weaving the growth and rivalry of Peter Piper and Max Piper until their final confrontation. Thrown into this are various archetypical myths and legends; the man finding themselves in the dark woods and the boy becoming the master thief. Although, there are no footnotes, you can read many famous fairytales into this book.
The setting for the novel is before the graphic novel series starts called Fables. It is a prequel which stands on its own. The illustrator, Steve Leilaloha does a marvelous job with his black and white illustrations. The drawings remind me a bit of Charles Vess with a mix of Jack Kirby. There is final comic book piece at the end of the novel which provides a nice segway into what the Fables graphic novels look like. The Fables graphic novels have won numerous awards in the comics industry.
This novel resonates well with me. It has a comic book feel to it. The descriptions are very visually oriented. The author is painting pictures of things that have never been with words. Some of the images like Puss playing his fiddle, or goblin soldiers, or arrogant knights are quite colorful. Read it for the descriptions, the fairytales, the myths, and the intricately woven plot which makes a complete story.