This is a fairy tale. By fairy tale, I mean that this is true without being fact. There’s an important distinction we used to believe in that we don’t believe in so much any more, and that is the idea that there are truths outside of facts. The forms of story telling that best house this claim are Myth and Fairy Tale, for they are not about facts, but are about truth.
“That’s what stars are made of, not what they are.” - Rahmandu, from Dawn Treader
Tolkien, Lewis and Chesterton have been my guides on this journey, and each was a kind of artistic defendant against some of the horrible ideas coming down the pipe of Modernism. How does this apply to today’s comic? Well, it’s actually against the rules of fairy to explain structure, because structures are put together in this world. They break the illusion of fairy… but I’ll indulge you.
“The definition of fairy story–what it is, or what it should be–does not, then, depend on any definition or historical account of elf or fairy, but upon the nature of Faerie, the Perilous Realm itself, and the air that blows in that country. I will not attempt to define that, nor to describe it directly. It cannot be done. Faerie cannot be caught in a net of words, for it is one of its qualities to be indescribable, though not imperceptible. It has many ingredients, but analysis will not necessarily discover the secret of the whole…” – Tolkien on Fairy Stories
Is it true that Weretoads exist? Yes, it is. Is it a fact that Weretoads exist? No, it is not a fact. You might think I’ve gone mad at this point, but I’ll tell you that Weretoads exist and I just saw one this week! Read the comic and see that Gullimar is running home in the middle of a horrifying disaster, only to smack into the worst thing imaginable. That’s just like us selling our house and having everything packed up, when we smacked into a terrible problem… the house we were going to rent got taken off the market. That’s a Weretoad. We were in a difficult time, and something even worse came up.
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed .” – G.K. Chesterton
Modernism demanded that everything be reduced to its fact statement. They would say that not only did the structure of the Weretoad not exist, but that the meaning also did not exist. C.S. Lewis hinted that Modernism destroyed half of the tools he could use to tell stories, and I believe this is what he was talking about.
Fast forward to me pitching a movie to one of the major studios and the executive didn’t like the use of a magic idol in the story. This is the same kind of magic idol you’d find in anything from Indiana Jones to Harry Potter but he said something interesting, “Instead of an idol, can we put in an explanation that is real instead of magic? Like maybe the creatures are evolving instead of under the spell of an idol?” Lewis was right.