Ursula

Fabio Moon, Author, Gabriel Ba, Illustrator , trans. from the Portuguese by the authors and Joan and Guilherme Pinto. AiT/PlanetLar $9.95 (72p) ISBN 978-1-932051-22-3

Brazilian cartoonists (and twin brothers) Moon and Ba originally self-published this odd little fairy tale—literally—about love. Young Prince Miro adores a girl named Ursula. Years later, his father (the king) tells him to go out and find a bride, so Miro tracks Ursula down. But Ursula, it turns out, is a fairy, and fairies explode when they fall in love. Which she does, and the two promptly find themselves inside the wintry landscape of Ursula's subconscious with a magic bird and facing a dragon representing Ursula's heart. And then things get really vague and metaphysical. Even when the story makes almost no sense or threatens to drown itself in recycled double-talk about the nature of love, Moon and Ba's lively pen-and-ink work carries the tale. The kids are big-headed caricatures, but their expressions and body language speak volumes; the older versions of Miro and Ursula are drawn with more sophistication and attention to light and shadow. The authors' fantastic inventions, like the bespectacled dragon, appear in yet another style that differentiates between realism and whimsy. The story's ending is somewhat messy, with chatter about "great love stories" and "deepest wishes" that hits readers over the head with a message. Still, the journey there is fun to observe. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
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