Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mermaids in Comics 2 – The Little Sea Maid

 This was one of my favourite books when I was little. It came to me dog-eared and second-hand. There is an inscription on the inside page opposite the title page with the names of four sisters who used to be my baby-sitters so I am assuming it belonged to them and they gave it to me as a gift.

The book is called Children's Favourite Stories in Pictures. There are no authors' or illustrators' names attached to it. There is no year of publication. There is no copyright information. The publisher is Consolidated Press in Sydney. It looks like it was published in the 1950s. It has an orange cover with illustrations of daisy chain around the title but with berries instead of daisies. In the four corners are four spot illustrations including a horse and rider, as well as a dwarf plus two others that are difficult to see. The inside contains 28 stories, ranging from Greek mythology to Aesop's fables to tales from the Arabian Nights. Some are rendered in colour; others in black and white.

Why is this significant?

Most of the stories are told through sequential art. The panels are wordless, and the text is underneath but they fall under the definition of comics simply because of the sequential art. And most significantly, one of the stories is "The Little Mermaid", although it is called "The Little Sea-Maid".

This, of course, was my favourite story in this book of favourites. The images are gorgeous. They're inked.

Here's what I found online about this book:

1950? Children's Favourite Stories in Pictures. No author or illustrator acknowledged. Sydney: Consolidated Press Ltd. $2.70 somewhere in Colorado, March, '94.
This large-format book is unusual in a number of respects. First, it is one of the very few books I have from Australia. Second, it includes an unusually broad range of material, from Greek myths to Australian aboriginal folklore. Aesop is given two three-page sections: 23-25 and 87-89. Three fables are presented on each page with text and illustration equal in size and alternating columns with each other. On 89, the fables switch finally to color. The illustrations of the second set (87-89) seem to me superior in their artistry; they remind one of Boris Artzybasheff.

The National Library of Australia also has it catalogued.

I think mermaid collectors would be hard-pressed to find this book on the antiquarian book market but you can try.

I've scanned in three of the six pages in the story—the ones that feature the sea maid in mermaid form and where the tail is prominent. The pages are not in sequential order.

I'll lend the book to Jozef so he can scan the entire story for his mermaid art archive. I'm sure he'll be thrilled.


Dalida Lopez Rodriguez said...

Good morning!
I'm a collector of the illustrated tale THE LITTLE MERMAID.I was very happy to find this tale as comic. I have also one in Spanish language. I will start a blog just only about the tale THE LITTLE MERMAID.May I posted some of those illustrations? If You are agree You can send to my email If not, don't worry, I can understand. Regards.D.

Black Mermaid Productions said...

Hi Dalida
No worries. We'll email you the photos. Please link them back to this blog post. We'll be very interested to read your blog so let us know when it's gone live.