Tag Archives: baba yaga

Review: Coven #2

coven002It is common among the independent publishers that they tend to take more chances and to give more creative control to their writers and artists.  Despite that, Zenescope could be identified as one of the companies that does so less than than others.  After the initial success of Grimm Fairy Tales, it mostly figured out this formula and while there is always room for creativity, it has also not deviated too far from this script too often.  This is perhaps most true in the main Grimm Fairy Tales title, which while it has moved into more of a Young Adult setting, is also one which hasn’t really tried to push its own boundaries since its early days.  There is of course another problem for an independent like Zenescope and that is exposure.  With a much smaller portion of the comic market, they have to make calculated decisions more so than the bigger companies, which can give secondary characters a chance to shine in their own series before letting them fail and pass back into obscurity. This leaves many of the more intriguing characters that Zenescope has at its disposal often unused with the likes of Britney Waters, Liesel Van Helsing and Baba Yaga often reduced to only cameo appearances.

What Zenescope does do well though is give its second tier group of heroines a chance to shine in miniseries, and such is the case with Coven.  As was shown in the first issue, a small coven of witches is attacked with their leader subdued and kidnapped while the others are murdered.  Baba Yaga intervenes in order to find one of her disciples and in this issue enlists the aid of some other powerful witches before launching her rescue mission.

While an occult vs. military concept is not exactly new, it is interesting to see it in this setting for Grimm Fairy Tales.  While a lot of the properties for Grimm Fairy Tales can be fun, they also seem to be in somewhat of a comfort zone, and don’t really move much beyond that.  This series on the other hand seems to be trying a few new things, and while they are not spectacular at least deserve to be recognized as such.  Also worthy of recognition is that the series features Baba Yaga, on the surface a strange choice for a series protagonist but also one that works in this setting.  This might not be an amazing series, but it is fun and worth a look for those that don’t mind a bit of a mix between genres.

Story: Zach Calig Art: Diego Galindo
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Coven #1

coven001Grimm Fairy Tales has mostly stuck pretty close to the same formula throughout its entire run.  Although it has vastly modified its source material, it has mostly depended closely on fairy tales, myths and legends in order to tell its stories.  There have been a few diversions where the characters involved are more or less completely original, although that has been the exception.  One of those cases was one which was a bit of a non-starter for Zenescope, a series called Salem’s Daughter and which told the story of Anna Williams, a witch who sought out to help people despite being constantly threatened because of her powers.  Although set in a different time, the character was still identified as part of the Grimm Fairy Tales universe on multiple occasions.

This new series is a combination of both inspirations.  The first part of the story deals with this same inspiration as was for the series of Salem’s Daughter as it shows a modern coven of witches in the Salem Woods, still targeted by witch hunters, though these witch hunters are a bit more refined than those in the past.  Out are pitchforks and in is full assault gear with state of the art weaponry.  While this serves as the introduction to the series, what follows is probably of note to many fans of the ongoing series, as it shows the return of Baba Yaga, a fan favorite who plays the anti-villain role, a female antagonist, who equally sometimes sides with the heroes when she doesn’t like what other villains are getting up to.  She leads the search for the abducted coven although she apparently isn’t aware of all of her actions as she seeks out help.

Grimm Fairy Tales has a tendency to get a bit bogged down in its main stories as it is so intricately woven together with its different inspirations.  This series on the other hand proves that there is a lot of hidden talent at this company, with the creative teams that it puts together to cover different concepts.  The result is this series which is a deviation from the usual Grimm Fairy Tales script, but a welcome one as it adds something extra to the universe which hasn’t been seen in some time, and manages to do so in an engaging way.

Story: Zach Calig Art: Diego Galindo
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

We Talk Grimm Fairy Tales with Nicole Glade

gft002Editors are the unsung masterminds of the comic industry, bringing together multiple talented artists and creators to produce a single finished product. Nicole Glade is one such editor, who has been working behind the scenes at Zenescope for a few years on various titles. She thus has an interesting insight into the inner workings of a comic company and she joined us to share her thoughts on fairy tales, swimsuits and the changing demographic of comic readers.

Graphic Policy: It is not very often that we get to talk to an editor as opposed to writers and artists, so can you start by telling us a little about what you do for any random issue?

Nicole Glade: Very true, and I appreciate the recognition! As lead editor, I oversee projects from concept to completion. I act as a bridge between all the creative personalities and make sure everyone is both accurate and on pace to get the project done in time for print. I even get a hand in the creative aspect, because I may have an idea that I suggest to the writer or one of the artists.

GP: Are there any particular issues or stories that you worked on which surprised you for how they turned out?

gft004NG: I suppose the biggest surprise for me would be Grimm Fairy Tales. GFT has been a mature title for a long time, but 101 changed all that and became Young Adult. It made a lot of sense, given that it now has several young adult characters. While I’ve read plenty of YA that I enjoy, it’s not my go-to genre. That said, I have really, really enjoyed each issue. I love the students and it’s been so much fun to watch their characters come to life.

GP: You have said that you are interested in making comics more inclusive towards everyone, especially female readers. On the one hand there seems to be somewhat of a shift underway, but on the other there still seems to be some distance to go. What do you think is the most important change needed in the medium to make this possible?

NG: Widening the audience is a huge personal goal, yes. I think a lot of creators are on board and taking steps to make this happen. It really seems to me that it’s the higher-ups who need to catch up. I see publishers at least acknowledge that they’d like to create comics that speak to a larger readership. However, they’re still not able to directly point out titles that meet that goal, or the titles they can name are few and far between. It’s definitely time to stop making promises and actually get to work.

gft003GP: Fairy tales in comics have a strange history in the medium. They started off as common staples in the early years of and then all but disappeared until recently. What do you make of their relatively recent comeback?

NG: I think fairy tales are never going to truly go away. There’s clearly something timeless about them that we love to explore time and again through various mediums. Perhaps it’s the morals they tell, or how the darker aspects shine a light on the most basic parts of being human.

GP: As an editor you get to work on a lot of different titles at Zenescope, and have had a hand in practically every Zenescope property at one time, from Wonderland to Neverland and from Oz to the Jungle Book. Does doing so give you a new outlook on any particular characters or settings?

NG: I oversee over half of Zenescope’s titles. It can be a bit of a handful to manage, but I really enjoy seeing how it all connects. Readers generally won’t miss out on anything if they prefer to stick to one, but there are always little easter eggs lurking in the background that allude to other titles.

GP: Did you find yourself liking any specific characters more after being exposed to all of them?

gft005NG: I can’t think of a character I don’t like the more I get to know them through editing a title they’re starring in. Cindy in particular stands out. When I first read her, she was a side character and I found her really annoying. But then I edited the Cinderella Age of Darkness miniseries. Pat Shand managed to write her in a really funny way and suddenly I saw her in a whole new light. It also helped that the art team did a fantastic job as well.

GP: Is there any specific series or characters that stand out to you as being the best that the company has to offer? On that same note, is there any specific character that you would think needs to be put in a little bit of a different direction so as to better use their potential?

NG: Robyn is easily a fan favorite. Pat has given her such a distinct voice that it’s hard not to fall in love with her. Personally, I love Baba Yaga. I’ve always had a soft spot for antiheroes and she’s constantly in this morally grey space.

gft001As for characters that I’d like to see more of, definitely Adraste. She certainly stands out in Oz, but the spotlight is still on Dorothy. When she got her one-shot in Tales from Oz, she had to share it with Glinda. I’d love to see her with her own a miniseries in the future.

GP: You have edited the swimsuit editions for Grimm Fairy Tales, and as they come our every second year, there won’t be one this summer, but how do you go about choosing themes for the selection? How do you choose the (sometimes fictional) locales?

NG: Dave definitely did most of the work when it came to concepts. He didn’t want to reuse a lot of covers, so he focused on coming up with about 30 unique and new concepts. He basically just made a list of the various realms and characters, then combined them. He also threw in a few real locations because who doesn’t like seeing beloved fictional characters in the real world? Once the list was complete, he turned it over to me. I spoke with each artist and asked what character they wanted to draw, then I tried to match them.

gft006GP: It seems that a lot of the variant covers for Grimm Fairy Tales often have the main characters in swimsuits. Is this kind of planned out to get a better field to choose from for the special?

NG: Like I said, Dave came up with totally new concepts to avoid reusing covers. Having so many bikini covers in order to compile them into the Swimsuit Special may have been the original line of thinking, but we’d like to create more content now. Fans deserve fresh material if they’re paying for the issue.

GP: Zenescope is putting on a big show this summer for its ten year anniversary, but where do you think that they will be in ten years?

NG: This year is definitely a major milestone for Zenescope and we’re all very proud to have made it to this point. What I’d really like to see for the company is less of a reliance on covers. That’s all well and good for the collectors and it certainly helped Zenescope during its early years, but it’s definitely time to let our interiors speak for themselves. This does not mean doing away with the flashier variants, but I think the interiors deserve an equal amount of attention.