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Good Faeries / Bad Faeries
Written and Illustrated by Brian Froud
Simon & Schuster Books, 192 pages


Design: Wherefore ART?
Good Faeries / Bad Faeries
Brian Froud
Brian Froud was born in Winchester, England, and went to college at Maidstone College of Art. He now lives in Devon, England. His drawings and paintings have graced the covers of many books. He also designed the creatures for the Jim Henson film, The Dark Crystal (1983) and influenced the creatures in another Henson's film, Labyrinth (1986). His books include The Land of Froud, Goblins, and the bestselling Faeries (with Alan Lee).

Brian Froud Tribute Site
Brian Froud Tribute Site
Brian Froud's Faerielands Tribute Site
Endicott Studio

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jonathan Fesmire

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I've loved fantastic art for as long as I can remember. Even before I could read or write, I illustrated stories about adventures and monsters, then enlisted the nearest grown-up to write in the story as I dictated it. So Brian Froud's Good Faeries / Bad Faeries drew me in and brought me back to my childhood -- appropriate for a book about the little people.

Froud is no newcomer to fantasy art. His creature designs filled the movies The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, but he is perhaps most known for his 1978 bestseller Faeries. But if you don't have the first book or can't find it, don't worry. Good Faeries / Bad Faeries is even more engaging, and longer, than the first.

The style is quite distinctive, with a sketchy quality even in Froud's paintings. I generally prefer a more finished quality in art, but Froud makes this sketchiness work, as it makes his faeries seem more alive.

Froud describes how his paintings come about, if you choose to believe it. He says that the faeries reveal themselves to him as he draws. He starts a piece with a few simple lines. Soon, the faery begins to take definite form. Froud claims not to name them, but to wait for the faeries to reveal their own names, even if that takes a long time.

Now, it's true that while reading this book, I had to suspend my disbelief a good deal more than if I were reading a story that I knew was fiction. When I read a science fiction or fantasy story, I usually have no problem buying into it. However, when someone claims to communicate with faeries, I can't help but think, "Yeah, right. Okay. Where did you really get your information and do your research?"

Accept his claims, or put them aside, and the book is quite enjoyable. Froud says that faeries all have good and bad in their natures, like people, I suppose. Still, the book is cleverly divided into two sections. This is part of the reason I felt I had to buy it. In a sense, Good Faeries / Bad Faeries is two books between one double-personality cover. Held one way, the title is Good Faeries. Flip it over, and you have Bad Faeries.

Each section has its own introduction in which Froud brings up some interesting faery lore. The Bad Faeries introduction tells about their cruelties and physical defects. In Good Faeries, we learn the fine points of faery physiology and about "The Science of Faery." Science? Why not? If faeries talk to Froud, then we may as well accept faery science.

After these introductions we come to the meat of the book, or books: Froud's lively art and descriptions of the faeries. Filled with paintings and sketches, the tome drew me into Faeryland as effectively as a well told fairy tale. Each creature, long and graceful or squat and stocky, has a distinct personality. To me, Froud's greatest talent is making his images seem vibrant and alive.

Often in folklore, the faery realm draws people in or terrifies them. Froud has nicely captured this aspect of the legends. The good faeries seem happy and carefree. They look like they're having fun and would love to have you join their party. Many of the bad faeries are inviting, or frighteningly seductive, like a thought so horrible it won't leave your mind, dark reflections of their good counterparts. The next time you can't manage your hair, perhaps the "Bad Hair Day Faery" has decided to torment you. If you're feeling glum and your matches won't light, your house may harbour a "Matchless Faery." Too bad he won't leave money under your pillow.

So if you enjoy fantasy art and folklore, or just want a peek into a fascinating other world, check out Good Faeries / Bad Faeries. From Morgana le Fay to a being called Honesty, let Brian Froud's faeries show you around their magical world.

Copyright © 1999 by Jonathan Fesmire
Jonathan Fesmire has travelled to France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Ireland. He enjoys speaking French and learning bits of other foreign languages, but most of all, he loves writing, and has sold fiction to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, SpaceWays Weekly, Jackhammer, and others.


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