It’s the first weekend of the month, which means it’s time to reveal August’s Muse of the Month: Faeries!
When I was in middle school, I stumbled upon a book that changed the way I looked at magical creatures… that book being Brian Froud’s Faeries. If you’ve seen the movies The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth, then you’re already familiar with his work; he did a lot of concept art for the creatures that appear in the films.
I credit Faeries with introducing me to the fantasy world largely because the book presented that world to me in a way that, until then, no other form of media had. As a kid, I was used to seeing portrayals of faeries as being sparkly and glamorous, with iridescent wings and a penchant for granting wishes. Up until that point, my favorite faeries had been those dreamed up by Amy Brown and Nene Thomas.
Then, when I was about twelve years old, Froud’s book showed me that faeries could be wild, strange, and sometimes even haunting or frightening, which contrasted starkly with the images of slender, pale, pretty women with wings and gowns that, for so long, had been the only things to come to mind when I’d think of “faeries.”
Scans from my copy of the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Brian Froud’s Faeries.
Flipping through his book gave me one of those revelations that changes your perspective on what the limits are, and lets you see something you thought you knew in an entirely new light. Just the realization that faeries didn’t have to be cutesy and pink and glittery let me take a fresh look at something that I’d only ever appreciated in the superficial sense.
On top of being a beautiful collection of artwork, Froud’s Faeries is also filled with stories about fae creatures from the United Kingdom. From detailing the differences between the Seelie and Unseelie courts to the macabre truth behind why a Red Cap’s hat is such a vibrant shade of crimson, this book explores the myths and legends behind both well-known and lesser-known faeries, and is a wonderful read for both fantasy-lovers and artists alike. Just a forewarning, many of the illustrations do contain nudity, and the subject matter of the text is often gruesome in nature, so it may not be suitable for all readers. If you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, peruse at your own risk… otherwise, I’d highly recommend it!