GRAPHIC HERO­ISM

Geist - - Endnotes - —Kelsea O’con­nor

The One Hun­dred Nights of Hero by Is­abel Green­berg (Dou­ble­day Canada) is a beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated graphic novel of­fer­ing fem­i­nist adap­ta­tions of folk tales wrapped in an epic-feel­ing love story. Green­berg’s new­est book uses the same mythol­ogy pre­sented in her ear­lier graphic novel, The En­cy­clopae­dia of Early Earth, and ex­plores sto­ry­telling as an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of what makes us hu­man. The un­will­ing sub­ject of a bet be­tween her thick-wit­ted hus­band and his friend, Cherry and her girl­friend Hero find them­selves in hot wa­ter as the friend vows to se­duce the seem­ingly chaste and loyal Cherry. Scheherazade-style, Hero de­vises a plan to keep the fool­ish suitor at bay, telling nightly sto­ries of strong women who de­fied cul­tural norms for (of­ten fe­male) love. Retelling fairy tales like the “Twelve Danc­ing Princesses” and the “Two Sis­ters,” in ad­di­tion to orig­i­nal nar­ra­tives, Hero gives the women in the sto­ries fresh agency to choose their lives and lovers. I par­tic­u­larly en­joyed the sto­ries framed by the League of Se­cret Sto­ry­tellers, a ma­tri­ar­chal group of women who live out­side the au­thor­ity of men. Lay­ered sto­ry­telling cau­tion­ing the evils of men give this book a sat­is­fy­ing fem­i­nist twist on fa­mil­iar fairy tales, and pro­vides a sharp com­men­tary on misog­yny and the women who must bloom un­der its con­fines. Fe­male re­la­tion­ships, lit­er­acy and oral his­tory are por­trayed as the an­ti­dote to the poi­son of a pa­tri­ar­chal so­ci­ety. Green­berg’s sim­ple lines and stark colour­ing add to the ten­sion and moody beauty of the sto­ries; I es­pe­cially loved the use of colour in her many moon­lit scenes. There are many things to love about this collection, but my favourite is how Green­berg skill­fully in­ter­weaves her sto­ries and char­ac­ters to cre­ate a rich apoth­e­o­sis to fe­male re­la­tion­ships.

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