Good Faeries Bad Faeries

There are no secrets from the Knowing Faery. She knows where all things hidden are; she can find all things that we have lost. But most of all, she knows what you have hidden in your heart.
— Good Faeries Bad Faeries, by Brian Froud.

[Artwork: The Knowing Faery, by Brian Froud.]


Brian Froud Art Book Collection

One thing that I tend not to go into depth about on Tumblr is my huge love of the works of Jim Henson and in particular his collaborations with the insanely talented Brian Froud.

I have a small but respectable collection of Froud`s work and have poured through the pages on numerous occasions. Studying every image and always managing to find something I had never noticed before. 

It`s a shame that Jim Henson died so young and never again had the opportunity to collaborate again with Brian Froud. The two times they did work together the results were magical. 


Gnomes live in the ground and are famous for their stubbornness and their wisdom. Gnomes are practical, down-to-earth, deeply rooted in reality, and disapprove of anything airy-fairy. Unfortunately, a gnome is also prone to being a stick-in-the-mud and can get bogged down with inertia. The thoughts of the gnome tend to be very precise… but also very slow. A sentence might take a whole year to speak (or in the case of certain gnomes, an entire century). Gnome jokes are not very funny because they never get to the punch line.
— Good Faeries Bad Faeries, by Brian Froud.

Artwork: Gnomes, by Brian Froud.

There in the inner realm of Faery, this Frog Queen is surrounded by earthy and watery companions: the little impulses of our nature, and one little whim that needs to be pampered. Pignut the pixie laughs and says: “She hasn’t even got her croak to keep her warm!” The others groan and roll their eyes while the Frog Queen smiles her secret smile. *

The queen has left her crown and robe behind, for today she’s going swimming — in the well of inspiration. Some call it the well well, or healing well — or the need well, for it provides you with what you need. Through our imaginations, we can follow her into the well. Let her leap be yours, and swim downward into the dark and soothing depths.

Many faces peer down at you from the distant surface of the well — faery thoughts and impulses that you must leave behind. Name them if you can, then let them go and leave them at the surface. Follow the Frog Queen deeper and deeper… Darkness gives way to a golden glow surrounding you with pervasive warmth as a rich golden light permeates every part of your body, every part of your soul. Rest here for as long as you desire… then ask this faery for whatever you need most. Her gift takes the form of a radiant golden ball — hold it to your heart, and its buoyancy will lift you to the surface once more. As you break through to the air above, the ball has become part of you, radiating faery warmth, light, and power deep inside you. As you emerge from the well feeling light, refreshed, and clear, remember to thank the Frog Queen for her help. She will reply that you are welcome to return to the well anytime you need to.

* Well, this footnote is more of a leg note — for the Frog Queen has borrowed the legs of a frog, the most favoured and noble of all faery companions. Frogs were known as the healing Lords of The Earth to the ancient Celts of Europe, symbols of good luck and robust good health. They were sacred to Hekit, the Egyptian midwife of the gods, representing fertility and rebirth — while Ch'ing-Wa Sheng, the Chinese frog spirit, symbolised vision and subtle understanding. Frogs were a sign of harmony between lovers in Graeco-Roman myth; they also represented sensuality and were the companions of the nymphs. Frogs were magical rainmakers in Aztec myths, Aboriginal lore, and the folktales of many African peoples. In European faerytales, the frog or toad was an agent of transformation: princes hid in frog disguise and frog wives conjured magic of the heart. In alchemy, the jewel concealed in the toad’s head symbolised spiritual truth — reminding us that outward appearances can be deceptive and that hidden rewards can be found in the most unpromising material or events.
— Good Faeries Bad Faeries, by Brian Froud.

[Artwork: The Frog Queen, by Brian Froud.]

I have been painting pictures of faeries and their magical realm for many years now – yet even when their forms emerge vibrant of the paper before me, their names (and personalities) will often remain maddeningly elusive. … I’ve learned that names, if I’m not careful, can turn them lifeless and flat, nailing the images down to one rigid meaning, lessening possibilities – and greatly dismaying to the faeries … [They] insist on a multiplicity of names, changing from day to day or from moment to moment. … they themselves change their names according to whim, circumstance, or the person they’re talking to. … I waited for the faeries [in my paintings] to tell me the words by which they’d like to be known.

Despite this multiplicity of names, faeries (like cats) each secretly possess a single real name – usually hidden and guarded, but sometimes given as a powerful gift. The real name of a faery is an integral part of the creature itself. To possess the name is to possess the faery…

—  excerpts from “Naming Faeries”, from Brian Froud’s brilliant book Good Faeries/Bad Faeries

The faery named Quempel dances to celebrate bright, special moments when something is well done and done well. Then she sits, plump with satisfaction and glowing with achievement.
— Good Faeries Bad Faeries, by Brian Froud.

[Artwork: Quempel, by Brian Froud.]


“Once upon a time, I thought faeries lived only in books, old folktales, and the past. That was before they burst upon my life as vibrant, luminous beings, permeating my art and my everyday existence, causing glorious havoc…." 
- Good faeries, Bad faeris, Brian Froud

I love so much Brian Froud and his books! And this one is my favourite!

Often associated with the rather strange and lurid Boletus Erythropus, this annoying faery is frequently found in the kitchen, where it causes milk and soup (particularly mushroom soup) to boil over and stews to erupt from under pan lids, creating a dreadful mess. The Scots are plagued by a pot pixie that plays havoc with their porridge. The old saying “A watched pot never boils” derives from the antics of the pot pixies. Take your eyes off the pot for a moment, and whoosh! — pixilated porridge all over the stove!
— Good Faeries Bad Faeries, by Brian Froud.

[Artwork: Pot Pixie, by Brian Froud.]

xoBookClub: 12 Illustrated Books for Grownups
from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll

Since it’s the weekend and we’re all too grown up to get jazzed on sugary cereal and watch Saturday morning cartoons, let’s immerse ourselves in books with pictures because what’s the use of a book without them? 

Some of my fondest memories of reading when I was small are of late nights spent with my grandmother poring over one of Graeme Base’s riddle books and trying to decode the verse that lived among the pictures. I remember just as clearly the hours spent with Brian Froud’s Good Faeries, Bad FaeriesAs an adult, I’m still enchanted by a well illustrated text.

From Graeme Base’s The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery

There’s no reason we should be robbed of picture books as soon as we have to pay taxes and vote and go out and get jobs. Hell, there should more picture books available for us to help us through our banal adult existences.

The 12 books in this roundup offer a diverse look at how picture books have evolved over the years — some are dark (I know, I know, I like a heavy nightmare of a story and not everyone else does and I’m working on it), some are humorous, some are 400-page behemoths, and some only have a few words on each page. From graphic novels to short stories to fairytales tales retold, there’s something for every voracious and grownup reader among these 12 titles. 

Hipster Animals: A Field Guide — Dyna Moe

It’s 2016 and we can all agree that it’s time to stop hating on hipster culture, but it’s hard not to grimace and groan and laugh (literally out loud) through Moe’s charming and detailed descriptions of the too-cool-to-even-live-life, Brooklyn-based, artisanal activist, agonizing hipsters. 

Look out! It’s the lead ukulele in a gansta rap cover band!  

Hipster Animals: A Field Guide is broken up into nine sections and feature such familiar faces as the Experimental Coffee Gastronomist, the Social Media Branding Network Analyst or Whatever, the Blog-to-Book Editor, and the Way-Too-Sex-Positive Crusader. Along with markings, call, and habitat, Moe’s field guide also includes the diet of each hipster variety as well as their prey, predators, and behaviors. 

My Friend Dahmer — Derf Backderf 

I don’t know the Genesis of our cultural fascination with serial killers, but I’m a willing participant. 

My Friend Dahmer is an illuminating look at one of the most infamous serial murderers of our time. Backderf attended high school with Dahmer and this illustrated origin story is honest, fascinating and, more than once, surprisingly tender. 

Things I’ve Said To My Children — Nathan Ripperger 

I don’t use the word hysterical lightly, but I’m going to use it now along with the words irreverent, ridiculous, and delightful to describe Ripperger’s slim but rich volume of playfully illustrated actual things he’s actually said to his actual children. 

Through the Woods — Emily Caroll

Hark! A collection of short stories! A collection of short scary stories! Rejoice! 

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods has been called “ sinister” and “compellingly spooky,” and evokes some of our most visceral fears in a way only a picture book can. Caroll is well known for her webcomics which range in genre from horror to romance to fairy tales. Check out her website to see if you’re ready to take the plunge into her full-length collection.

Was She Pretty? — Leanne Shapton

What’s more intoxicating — and very, very, very bad for you — than wondering (and obsessing) about your lover’s ex’s? Shapton’s Was She Pretty? explores that painful behavior that we just can’t seem to quit with thoughtful sketches that cut right to the heart of how we love, by proxy, the ones our lovers have loved before us.

From Hell — Alan Moore, illustrated by Eddie Campbell 

Two serial killers in one picture book roundup? Shocking. 

Moore’s graphic novel (which is infinitely more impressive and nuanced than the infamously bad movie it was made into) tells the tale of the infamous — and never captured — Jack the Ripper. 

Girl in Dior — Annie Goetzinger 

If you’re a fan of couture sketches or the vibrant history of one of fashion’s most iconic designers, immediately get yourself a copy of Girl in Dior. 

Annie Goetzinger is a bestselling artist and the glamorous illustrations in Girl in Dior make it obvious just why she’s is so successful. This “biography docudrama… marries fiction with the story of one of the greatest couturiers in history,” and it does it all in a glorious medium well-suited for the tale.

Beautiful Darkness — Fabien Vehlmann 

Image courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly 

I’ve been warned of and enchanted by this dark, dark, VERY DARK graphic novel for some time now. Vehlmann begins with a fairy tale trope and turns it on its head with gorgeous watercolor illustrations that brutally illuminate the morality (or lack thereof), betrayal, and emotional turmoil that makes the human experience raw and magnificent. 

Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection — Kate Beaton 

Lesley dubbed Beaton’s most recent collection her favorite book of 2015 and, as we all know, Lesley can do and say no wrong. Many of you are familiar with Beaton’s witty and literary comics and if you aren’t, you’ve probably seen them pop up on your Facebook newsfeed at one time or another. 

If you’re sitting at your computer, scratching your head and murmuring, who? it’s high time you get acquainted. No more excuses. 

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic — Alison Bechdel

You know a book, or in this case a graphic novel, is a stellar creation when it’s turned into a Broadway musical that wins FIVE Tony Awards (and is nominated for 12). 

I usually try to avoid highlighting or underlining in graphic novels — after all, the artist has ideas about what your eyes should be drawn to and illustrates as such — but I couldn’t help underscoring the many moments in Bechdel’s autobiographic graphic novel that sang with exceptional beauty. 

Abarat — Clive Barker 

This is a YA series of novels but — CALM DOWN — Clive Barker is an exceptional painter. Often, when reading one of his novels, my mind buckles under the weight of depicting the fantasmagoria he describes so well. 

Barker has been painting the Abarat — an archipelago where every island exists perpetually in a single hour of the day — since 1995 and the adventures of Candy Quackenbush mean just as much to me as an adult as they did when I was 12-years-old and stepping into the Abarat for the first time. Not without his trademark nightmares, the Abarat series has at least two more volumes on the way.

Found Poems — Bern Porter

Let’s round off this roundup with the bane of this book club’s existence — a book of poems. I stumbled across Bern Porter’s Found Poems by accident while roving the shelves of the Hollins University library. David Byrne said of this strange and artful collection, “here is the hidden literature of the 20th century. Hidden in plain sight.” 

No need to brace yourselves, this isn’t exactly a book of poetry. Rather, it is a book of mass media images “cropped, manipulated, and arranged in unconventional and non-intuitive ways." It’s a collection of our social consciousness — nearly 400 pages of diagrams, advertisements, and sketches, "used to reflect American culture as in a funny-house mirror: twisted but true.”

Do you agree with Alice and see little use for a book without pictures and conversations? What’s your favorite illustrated book  from childhood or last year or this year or this very minute in the here and now? 

Let’s talk about it the comments where, naturally, pictures in place of words are most heartily welcome.