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The Fir-Tree

It Books

Hans Christian Andersen, Adapted by Lilli Carré

Dec 08, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The Fir-Tree is Lilli Carré‘s sometimes enchanting graphic interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic Christmas tale. (Read the original here.) The meteroic graphic novel artist/author also penned Nine Ways to Disappear, The Lagoon, and Tales of Woodsman Pete, and she contributes to This American Life. Prior to reading this “stocking-sized” rendition of the seasonal story, I had only seen Carré‘s work on the covers and within the pages of The Best American Comics and Fantagraphics’ Mome anthologies. After reading The Fir-Tree, I look forward to seeing more of her own work. This is a fine adaptation of a beloved, abeit bottom shelf Yuletide narrative, but Carré squeezes the drama out ad infinitum. (The ShamWow® guy would be proud.)

Andersen’s whimsical yarn, originally published in 1845, recounts the story of a small fir tree living in the forest who basically whines a lot. First, he/she/it/whatever wants to grow tall to become a stately Christmas tree. When the fir finally achieves that life goal it yearns for the sanctity of its arborous home after getting set on fire by a Christmas candle. The lesson that the tree learns at the end is slightly cruel and alligns well with Andersen’s slightly dark storytelling (the original The Little Mermaid.) Even though the plot is extremely slim, Carré has a masterful grasp of the clear line style and imbues a lovely watercolor palette into the mix.

The other books in the series fare slightly better than The Fir-Tree. Alex Robinson’s re-imagining of L. Frank Baum’s farcical A Kidnapped Santa Claus is amplified by a fine balance of taut suspense and jovial lampooning. O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, as told by Joel Priddy, is the best looking graphic novel of the It Books triptych. He uses the same chiaroscuroed surrealism of his Eiser-nominated/Ignatz-winning debut, Pulpatoon: Pilgrimage, in a subtly affective manner. On the other hand, The-Fir Tree is definitely nice with a warm glass of milk before bed, but you won’t dust this off for too many Christmases. (www.lillicarre.com)

Author rating: 5/10

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Greenhouses
January 22nd 2010
6:26am

Thanks for this well crafted piece of writing about such an important issue facing us. Excellent write-up there! The information that you have shared regarding The Fir-tree book is too good. Thanks a ton for putting this out.