Nightmares & Fairy Tales: Dancing with the Ghosts of Whales by Serena Valentino (author), Camilla d’Errico (artist)
Series: Nightmares & Fairy Tales, Vol. 4
Published: 2008 by SLG Publishing
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Horror, Fiction
I know I shouldn’t start with the final book in a series, but Nightmares & Fairy Tales: Dancing with the Ghosts of Whales is the only volume I can find in local bookstores…Anyway, it’s the fourth and final volume to the Nightmares & Fairy Tales series written by Serena Valentino in which Annabelle, a cursed rag doll is the main character.
In contrast to my previous review of The Lost Boy, this graphic novel has incredibly messy art and alright typesetting. While I’ve been a long-time fan of Camilla d’Errico, I find her sketchy art style here distracting. It works at some points but honestly, would it have hurt to erase the unneeded base sketch lines? I’m taking a guess that this graphic novel was done traditionally (but never have I ever read such a messy traditionally-done one!) and maybe it was difficult to erase parts in case it ruins the art, but couldn’t someone on the team use Photoshop or some similar software to erase those unnecessary lines after scanning them or something? It only takes a few clicks from the mouse/swipes from the tablet pen for one panel.
Now, on the typesetting department. There’s no random bold words whatsoever in this book, font size is consistent and I like the usage of text warp for some of the SFXs but other than that? Not so much. The lack of breathing space inside some bubbles makes the text look squished. Though, it’s the lack of font variation that irks me the most. Really, the same font for normal dialogue and in-bubble shouting? The same font for crashes, bangs and outside-speech-bubble screams? There are thousands of fonts on the internet and the typesetter couldn’t pick a different, more suitable one? And, that’s not all. There’s something called “stroke” under “Layer Style” in Photoshop and it has its own purpose. Use it when there’s text on various-toned or coloured backgrounds because it separates the text and ensures that fair attention is given to it as well. Other than that, there are slight inconsistencies between character speech (again, use of contractions in one bubble and none in the other).
As for the plot, I rather like ‘Harmony’, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty set in the present day. The pace is nice and the story’s pretty interesting. However, it lacks a wow factor to it. ‘Song of the Siren’, however, gives off vibes of “I’m a rushed work!” Characterization isn’t done well, making the characters unrealistic and the plot slightly patchy. Annabelle is basically in the back burner for this one.
I might consider picking up the first few books in this series but with such a weak ending, I might not either.