Interview: Chris Duffy on First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics

Fairy Tale Comics

Fairy Tale Comics

Chris Duffy is the editor of the upcoming Fairy Tale Comics from First Second. The book features fairy tales ranging from “Hansel & Gretel” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” to “The Boy Who Drew Cats” and “Give Me the Shudders” adapted by an impressive list of creators. How impressive? The creators on the book are Bobby London, Emily Carroll, Gilbert Hernandez, Vanessa Davis, Gigi D.G., Ramona Fradon and Chris Duffy, Jaime Hernandez, Luke Pearson, Brett Helquist, Joseph Lambert, Raina Telgemeier, Charise Mericle Harper, Graham Annable, Jillian Tamaki, Karl Kerschl, David Mazzucchelli, and Craig Thompson. Westfield’s Roger Ash recently contact Duffy to learn more about the book.

Westfield: How did the Fairy Tales Comics book come about?

Chris Duffy: It’s really the second book in a series. The first was Nursery Rhyme Comics, which came out in 2011. The idea for that book had been batted around at First Second for a while before I was hired to edit it. It did well and was nominated for two Eisners… so, First Second followed with fairy tales, which is sort of a natural follow-up. There’s a third book in the works right now, actually.

From "The Boy Who Drew Cats" by Luke Pearson.

From “The Boy Who Drew Cats” by Luke Pearson.

Westfield: You have an impressive list of creators working on the book. How did they become involved with the project and did they choose the stories they wanted to adapt?

Duffy: To give you a long answer, first I read a ton of fairy tales (poor me!) and narrowed the choices for the book down to about 20 with a balance of story types, boy and girl protagonists, and familiar vs. unfamiliar. After talking things over with Calista Brill, the Senior Editor at First Second, I started contacting cartoonists who would be a good match for particular stories. The cartoonists in Fairy Tale Comics are really a dream line up–some are folks I’ve worked with, but many are just people like Luke Pearson (Hilda series) and David Mazzucchelli (Asterios Polyp) who I just really wanted to see draw a fairy tale! In some cases, cartoonists were matched according to subject matter–we gave Karl Kerschl “The Bremen Town Musicians” because he draws such great animals (as seen in his webomic “The Abominable Charles Christopher.”)


From “Bremen Town” by Karl Kerschl.

Westfield: The creators in the book include people known for working on mature titles as well as those better known for doing books for younger readers. Who do you see as being the target audience for the book?

Duffy: When I was an editor at Nickelodeon Magazine (from 1997 to 2009), I learned to work with cool artists anyone would think are amazing, not just some assumed category of “kid friendly” artists. Johnny Ryan did hilarious comics for kids in Nick Magazine that were totally appropriate. I think this is a book for kids in elementary school, for teens and adults who love comics, and anyone who wants to see a great storyteller have a blast with a favorite fairy tale.

From "The Prince and the Tortoise." Script by Chris Duffy, art by Ramona Fradon.

From “The Prince and the Tortoise.” Script by Chris Duffy, art by Ramona Fradon.

Westfield: You’re working with the legendary Ramona Fradon on a story. What can you say about your collaboration with her?

Duffy: Ramona is a great talent who draws as well or better now as she ever has. Plus, she’s really fun to talk to, so I wanted her for the book! I asked her to adapt a kind of obscure Arabian Nights story called “The Prince and the Tortoise.” She likes to work from a script so I made a huge sacrifice and offered to write it myself and thus team myself with a comics legend. No ulterior motive at all! She’s an amazing artist and everything she drew was better and funnier than I’d imagined. Plus, she’s a good critic. I revised the ending a few times at her suggestion and it helped the story a lot.

Westfield: Are there any other projects you’re working on that you’d like to mention?

Duffy: I edit the SpongeBob Comics series for United Plankton Pictures, which is something I’m extremely proud of and grateful to be involved in.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Duffy: Fairy tales and comic books have a long history–including “Fairy Tale Parade” from Dell Comics, which is probably one of the top comic book series of all time. It’s great to be part of that tradition!


Fairy Tale Comics HC



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