It’s easy to become set into a routine, not anticipating change or surprises, and perhaps miss a glimpse of the fantastic that’s right around the corner. The graphic novels in the Vertigo Fables series play with this idea. In these stories, figures from fairy tales and myths have run away from their homelands because of a terrible adversary. Now these figures live in a hidden enclave in New York. Cinderella owns a shoe store and has a double life as a spy. Bufkin, one of the winged monkeys from Oz, is Fabletown’s librarian and lives in the business office. Frau Totenkinder, the witch from the Hansel and Gretel story, has turned over a new leaf and is the leader of Fabletown’s magicians. And, Old King Cole is the town’s mayor. (to discover more about the Fables series, click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fables_(comics) ).
All of these figures from legends and story draw their strength from readers – they are alive because of people’s reliance on the idea of the fantastic, the strange, the marvelous. And, in reading the Fables saga, the reader gives power to the concept of these fairy tale figures interacting with one another and creating new stories and tales. The Big Bad Wolf can learn to do more than huff and puff. Snow White can reconcile with her sister, Rose Red. Boy Blue can demonstrate his courage.
However, I discovered recently that sometimes the marvelous is indeed around the corner, right here in the mundane world. I’ve worked at The Filson for over a year, but had never fully explored the second floor. That’s where the library is located, and I simply had never had much occasion to go into the back rooms. Searching for a coworker, I came across a room with these whimsical lamps. Bronze dragonflies with delicate wings held globes of light. There they were, Tiffany Art Nouveau light fixtures suspended above a desk piled with papers and folders, quietly shimmering. Now I know that all I have to do to experience a bit of fairyland is to go upstairs.
I don’t even have to crack open a book.