REVIEWS


ABOUT THE RED SHOES AND OTHER TALES

Hope, joy, and pain intermingle in these dark, alluring stories, which may leave readers thinking of Andersen as a precursor to modern horror.
-- Publishers Weekly Full review

A darkly pensive read, perfect for chilly fall evenings.
-- Kirkus Reviews Full review

Three timeless stories receive visually beautiful and cogent treatment in this comics collection… Though the simplicity of line and verbal content are both elegant and accessible, the combination of fairly unhappy endings and pleasant yet wooden expressions cultivates an eerie, vaguely unsettling atmosphere. A worthwhile addition to collections of graphic adaptations of classic works.
-- Booklist

The illustrations in the novel are creative and well done, bringing a more modern style to the original tale.
-- The Guardian Children's Books Full review

Dark, mysterious, completely entrancing and easily the best adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale that we've ever seen.
Charlotte's (7) best bit: The (slightly gruesome) solution to the poor girl's dancing shoe problem. Eeks!
-- Read it Daddy! Full review

The Red Shoes has been a classic cautionary tale of desires and responsibilities for generations, and here it is interpreted wonderfully, a mixture of pathos and delight, magical wonder and dark undercurrents...
-- Forbidden Planet Blog Full review

The Red Shoes And Other Tales is a beautiful book by Metaphrog telling three bittersweet stories that really are suitable for all ages.
-- downthetubes.net Full review

A beautiful but haunting fairy tale brought to stunning visual life.
-- Broken Frontier Full review

I wonder sometimes if the limpid clarity and childlike (but never childish) simplicity of Sandra Marrs’s artwork rather fools people about the dark depths of Metraphrog’s work. Marrs and partner John Chalmers can mix light and shade adroitly as this collection of fairy tales suggests. It’s full of eerie violence and Dickensian sentimentality and it has a potent kick to it. Perfect Christmas reading.
-- Teddy Jamieson, Graphic Content, The Herald
A notable graphic novel of 2015

Wonderful work wonderfully presented and highly recommended!
-- Paul Gravett

The dark story of Andersen’s The Red Shoes is wonderfully retold in this graphic novel, along with Andersen’s The Little Match Girl and an original story titled The Glass Case. The sickly color palette exhibited throughout this book really gives these stories an extra layer of spookiness.
-- Association for Library Service to Children

Their art has a delicate line that reminds me of Charles Vess, but their faces are unique, almost doll-like, adding to the creepy feel of the stories.
-- The Jean Little Library

Bravo, basically... They’ve poured their substantial hearts into this and it shows.
-- Page 45 Full review

ABOUT LOUIS

Can someone please make a Louis movie sometime soon?
-- The Herald

Sandra and John have crafted their best Louis book yet, an utterly gorgeous, colourful, touching fantasy for all ages, with fabulous artwork and colouring and an engaging emotional hook... it’s one of those books that makes you happy just to hold it in your hand ... in fact it’s going right into my Best of the Year list.
-- Forbidden Planet Blog Full review

A sweet, sad fable, beautifully rendered by the Glasgow-based duo of John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs...the story they tell, a gentle fantasy, has an easy tone and a deceptive depth that will appeal to both adults and children.
-- The Sunday Herald

Metaphrog have produced three books about the most adorable character...
-- Julie Burchill in The Guardian

Metaphrog's deep story will have readers contemplating its images and events long after they've reached the final page.
-- Publishers Weekly

An indispensable bedside book, to plunge into as in a dream.
-- Libération

These days we're bombarded with animations or graphic novels that claim to amuse kids while offering a metanarrative to please adults. But few actually fulfil these promises as effectively as this Scottish duo's hand-painted book.
--Art Review

Franco-Scottish duo Metaphrog use simple designs and storytelling techniques to make the reader think about the role imagination has for the "average Joe" making his way through the daily grind. Metaphrog give their work the feel of a great children's book. Louis himself is cut from the same cloth as Charlie Brown and Jimmy Corrigan...
-- The Comics Journal

That Louis’s concerns are universal and his adventures a reflection of modern world make his tales like contemporary fables.  Metaphrog manage to bridge the gap between innocence and experience with real insight, making Night Salad something that can stand alongside Kafka’s short stories — deceptively simple tales that manage to pierce directly to the heart of the human condition.
-- Gavin Lees, The Comics Journal Full review

Louis - Dreams Never Die is their most satisfying, poetic work to date.
-- The Herald

A delightful all-ages tale of Louis' quest for adventure, Louis - Red Letter Day is the sort of comic book that draws you into its world. It's a distinctive work, fully envisioned and not in the least imitative,and has the potential of becoming a children's classic.
--Comics Buyer's Guide

The emotions are powerful, the issues fundamental and the imaginative power spellbinding. Louis - Night Salad is a visual and narrative journey unlike any other - and yet emotionally and philosophically utterly recognizable.
-- New Internationalist

A dream-quest theme persists throughout this colorful book [Louis - Night Salad], which brings to mind many classic, if somewhat less unsettling, adventures: Harold and the Purple Crayon and Where the Wild Things Are. Established fans will delight in this volume; like Louis, new readers will enter the story perplexed but exit with joy.
-- John Gehner, Library Journal Full review

Imagine an alternate universe - let's call it Metaphrogland - where there is no distinction between stories for children and those for adults... Metaphrog has crafted something unique, uncompromising, and greater than the sum of its parts.If only more comics were so genuinely transporting.
--Rain Taxi Review of books

Maybe it's the palette that makes the Louis series look as though it's meant for kids. Louis is an unassuming worker with a head like a potato who lives with his pet bird. But Metaphrog, the Glasgow-based duo behind the books, have weighted Louis's world with a few dystopian twists. His bird's name is Formulaic Companion; his post is monitored; and in one episode he's questioned about his knowledge of 'the underground'. Poor Louis is also saddled with existential woes. 'Why do I feel so hollow?' he asks the Comforter, a machine in his house that dispenses answers for cash. ('Because you haven't been watching your entertainment centre enough' is the reply.) Louis dreams of escape, but his plans are constantly foiled by the forces at work around him...
--The Guardian

An insinuating, multi-levelled fable for our disconnected age.
--Paul Gravett in The Comics Journal

Strange, disturbing, allegorical... Louis, and his caged bird FC, take you into a world that is at once utterly strange and alarmingly familiar. In a quirky, highly imaginative and quite surreal way, themes of surveillance, social control, exploitation, consumerism and punishment are explored. Ostensibly a children's cartoon book, its subtle humour and sinister quality will appeal to all ages, while unassuming, slightly melancholic hero, Louis, is just totally heartwarming. Beware: this stuff is probably addictive.
--New Internationalist

With squibs for eyes and delicately inked circles for nose and mouth, Louis' reduced features magically express a life spent daydreaming, writing letters to possibly fictional aunts and reading signs that say 'you look like a potato'. Infused with shadowless light and written in precisely elusive balloons, Louis - Red Letter Day is a seriously spaced enigma from Metaphrog aka Glaswegian cult artists John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs. Like nothing else around.
--Kodwo Eshun in i-D

Louis - Red Letter Day is disturbingly wonderful; you don't want to miss out on this book. Trust me when I say this is the book that people are going to be talking about for a long, long time.
-- icomics.com

Luminescent and haunting illustrations add to the surreal feel of a magical modernist mystery with implicit 1984-style warning which repays repeated readings...
--The School Librarian

A truly wonderful piece of storytelling. Go on, treat yourself!
-- Comics International

Louis, we love you.
-- SFX

I'm sure you remember Curious George, that cute little monkey who's curiosity would always get him in and out of trouble as he turned the simplest of tasks into the most wonderful of adventures. Alright. Now take that little guy and place him inside The Village, the Orwellian setting of Patrick McGoohan's cult classic, The Prisoner, and you've got LOUIS, one of the most intriguing children's worlds in literature today. Louis is a rotund little fellow with a round head and a button nose that lives in a strange hamlet where mysterious parties monitor everyone. He toils all day on weird machines, and plays with a clockwork bird. He dreams of adventure and a life beyond the daily tedium of the village, if only he could escape its borders. One day, Louis decides to express his ambitions to his Aunt Alison in the form of a letter.
They begin to correspond, back and forth, with each new missive rekindling his desire for freedom. Is Aunt Alison the key to Louis' escape, or is she simply another machination of his mysterious wardens? Metaphrog, the creators of LOUIS, are actually a duo hailing from Scotland that broke into comics with a number of very sophisticated and surreal thrillers.
LOUIS is their first foray into children's books and they've been able to successfully translate that strange energy to something equally inspirational, as it is fascinating. And with its vibrant art and painted colors, this is truly a special book. LOUIS is simply something that must be seen to be believed.

-- Peter Siegel in Artbomb

A supposed children's story, this blackly humorous adventure comments on social structure and routine in a devilishly cute/sinister manner, amusing both juveniles and dodderers alike...
-- Sleazenation

Franco-Scottish husband-and-wife team Metaphrog are working wonders with material that hovers in the borderland between children's and adult fiction, that shadowy neutral zone where the young can see dim reflections of their own maturity and the old can regain briefglimpses of the insights of vanished youth.  Which is a high falutin' way of rewriting the cliché "for kids of all ages". Louis - Lying To Clive is a dark treat for kids of all ages. Read it.
-- James Lovegrove in Alien Online

Louis - Red Letter Day, the weirdest thing to come out of Glasgow for a long, long time, has "cult" written all over it [...] Metaphrog paint a world of pastel coloured protagonists with dull lives, living in the despair of 1984 or Brazil. Lonely Soul will empathise. Others will sympathise. Children - ostensibly the main audience of this work - will be baffled but, hopefully, charmed.
A comic that belies its simple exterior, with intelligent and cynical dialogue. Read it when things look bleak, and you're guaranteed to end up smiling.

--Jayne Dearsley in SFX

This self published comic strip is something of a phenomenon; the Glasgow based Metaphrog received two Eisner Award nominations for the first instalment of Louis' adventures, (Louis Red Letter Day) those of Best New Graphic Album and Best Title for a Younger Audience. This latter seems a little odd to me, in that Louis's adventures are dark to the point of being unsettling, and so cryptic and downright weird at times that I suspect any child picking up this book will go away with fractured minds …Coming on like a children's Absurdist primer, this charming but uncomfortable little book will amuse and disturb you. Oblique, sinister and cute in equal measure.
-- FLUX

The cult of Franco-Scottish artists that make up Metaphrog have been producing comics since 1996...Their latest effort, Louis - Lying to Clive charts the continuing troubles of life for Louis and his friend as they set out, along with saucer-eyed accomplice Clive, to discover the secret of the Bee-Hive... Louis - Lying to Clive is a darkly humorous tale of a search for excitement beyond the mundane boundaries of every day life. Masquerading as a magical children's story Louis - Lying to Clive amuses and bemuses in equal measures.
-- Mosquito magazine

L'apparente naïveté de cette pochette/bande dessinée mettant en scène un personnage imaginaire naïf et sincère (Louis) n'a en fait rien d'apparente et n'a d'autre objet que de réfléchir, tel un miroir la belle candeur et innocence de cette musique. ... Frais.
-- Jade

Et c'est peut-être là que s'opère réellement une fusion touchante: lorsque l'un et l'autre genre se complètent, se répondent, et, ensemble, nous touchent tous les sens dans une même volée et nous vont ainsi tout droit au coeur.
-- Les Inrockuptibles

Beginning a new story from the surreal yet unnervingly real world of Martin Nitram." So states the fine print on Strange Weather Lately's back cover. Surreal/real; Martin/Nitram. Mirrored images. This tale, or act, rather, deals with shifting weather patterns in the human condition. Suspicion. Depression. Frustration. Confusion.Loss of identity and self-worth. The simple conversation that can inexplicably bring forth suppressed memory. Fear. Loss of control. Mystery. It's all here, flowing effortlessly back and forth between the dozen characters that inhabit this moving, brooding twenty-one page black and white chapter. I don't know where this story is heading, but I'm glad I'm along for the ride [...] It's a play within a play, real emotions at conflict with acting sensibility, high drama on the outskirts of affairs of the heart. Strange weather, indeed, but I feel it's only the calm before the storm [...] this comic lingers with you long after you set it down, and bears several rereadings.
-- Comic Effect

Creative Scotland interviews:

...Connecting: about the creative process (12/11/2014)

...Catching up with Metaphrog: new graphic novel The Red Shoes, EIBF Residency and on being Patrons of Reading (28/10/2015)

The Guardian guest blog about our experiences at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011, on being in Conversation with Shaun Tan

The Comics Journal interview

Drawn Out Podcast:

Evening Times March 2016
The Sunday Herald
 
 
 
 
 

 

All contents © 2015 Metaphrog unless otherwise stated.

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