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Advent Day 3 – The Book of Ballads

December 3, 2016

The Book of Ballads
by Charles Vess

Vess is perhaps most well known, at least in my circles, as the illustrator of Stardust, Neil Gaiman’s beautiful fairytale. (There is an illustrated version, but I don’t really understand why.) But he has done so, so many projects and The Book of Ballads is one of my favorites.
I love ballads. Much of that love comes from the folk music of the early ’70’s. Bands like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention sang the old ballads and introduced me to so many stories.
I have all of their albums now along with many, many more from less famous folk musicians. Renn Fairs, by the way, are fantastic places to find people who play those songs. Eventually, I even got myself a set of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads collected by  Francis James Child. Most of my favorites, including Tam Lin, are collected there.
The Book of Ballads takes thirteen well known ballads and retells them as comics written by some of the most well known names in fantasy literature and illustrated by Charles Vess. Sadly, the book is out of print currently, but used copies are available. If you are at all interested in the old stories, this is a wonderful thing to pick up.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Terri Windling
The False Knight on the Road: Neil Gaiman
King Henry: Jane Yolen
Thomas the Rhymer: Sharyn McCrumb
Barbara Allen: Midori Snyder
The Three Lovers: Lee Smith
Tam-Lin: Elaine Lee
The Daemon Lover: Delia Sherman
Twa Corbies: Charles de Lint
The Galtee Farmer: Jeff Smith
Alison Gross: Charles Vess
The Black Bull: Emma Bull
The Great Selchie of Sule Skerry: Jane Yolen
Discography Notes: Ken Roseman (This is a wonderful resource as it tells you places to find different versions of the ballads as recorded by various artists.)

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