Until recently, fantasy has always had an uphill climb in America. Such stalwarts of children’s literature like L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll were relegated to cobweb infested corners of libraries, surrounded by adult sentries more concerned with the possible, practical, and real, and not so much the fantastic and imaginative. Ultimately, such gatekeeping was unsuccessful—look at Tolkien and the current explosion of genre fare across our society–but there has been no great writer of children’s literature that attitude has been more effective on that Edith Nesbit, an author all but forgotten today.
Publisher and project editor, April Brown, helped to change that with her comics adaptation of THE BOOK OF DRAGONS from Bronco Ink Publishing. Not only did she bring the stories back to life, but she also helped to lay the groundwork for the next generation of readers of the fantastic.
THE BOOK OF DRAGONS isn’t one of Nesbit’s most famous books (assuming you’ve heard of them at all), but it is one of her most imaginative. Nesbit takes the readers on a journey through multiple fantasy-filled dragon tales, each with a lesson for its young protagonist to learn, whether the perils of curiosity, bad business deals, or even a bit of logic. And the stories are told with the wit and sophistication of our modern young adult fare, perhaps a subconscious influence on their being overlooked for so long.
The new Bronco Ink adaptation, assembled by April, cuts through to the heart of each story and adapts it in an immediately accessible way. Sometimes, the process left the stories more or less intact, but with either modern twists, or streamlined storytelling to work within the comics medium. Other times, the stories were completely reinvented into a new genre, but with their hearts still on their sleeve. She reached out to a lot of great writers and artists to make it happen, including Shawn Aldridge (GoGetters), Rickey-Marcel Pitcher, Stew Magazine artist Amberin Huq, and many others. Not to mention gorgeous covers by Daniel Govar. Nesbit’s stories matter. They are part of our cultural heritage. Edith Nesbit wrote literature on par with, if not exceeding, the wit, class, and style of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. The goal is to bring them back to public consciousness; April’s adaptation does so, and is just the tip of the iceberg of more to come.
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