Wizardly Comic Book Review: Jim Henson's The Storyteller "Sirens" #1

Jim Henson's "The Storyteller" is a criminally underrated gem that used actors and the magic of Henson's puppet productions to bring mythology and folk tales to life. What was particularly admirable, beyond just the polish that is to be expected from anything 'Henson' is the way the titular storyteller and his dog (a puppet) bookend the stories and give listeners something to think about, and applying the message of the tales of the Storyteller. The spirit of the show is well captured here in these comic adaptations of which this issue is one of many. I think that this entire series might be worth reviewing in the context of both being good retellings of myth, as well as being fine examples of the role of a storyteller. This issue gives a great moral about taking value in what is really important, about moderation and it also gives some thoughts about art and the dynamic of the artist in 'selling' their own art, both literally and conceptually. I will end this section in simply saying I recommend this issue very highly, and is my favorite Storyteller comic that I've read so far. This concludes my spoiler-free review. If you don't mind spoilers, read on.

The comic opens with the Storyteller grasping a jar of dog treats, as his dog asks him for one. Storyteller says that the dog seems to never be satisfied, always wanting more, and the dog retorts, asking if the Storyteller was satisfied telling his stories to a dog when he could be sharing them with millions of people, and so the storyteller spins his tale.

He tells of a fisherman who had good family, food on the table and a beautiful and talented daughter, but he seemed to only return home to eat, always returning to the waves. He wanted to save for a larger ship, so he could fish longer and make more coin. He briefly had a run in with a pirate, who warned him about those who are always chasing more, as a pirate, he probably knew many.

That night he heard singing on the ocean, lifting his spirits and he follows the sound only to find a mermaid. He became obsessed with her, and indeed, chained her up in a secret place where he could go to hear her songs, and he did often, all while neglecting his family, He used her song like the dog used his treats, noted our Storyteller.

After a long absence he went back to see his family,but they were already gone. Of course, the song doesn't have the same potency for the broken man, who threw away a loving wife and daughter for mermaid song. He released the mermaid back to the ocean, but before she departed she told the man that the thing he searched for was closer than he realized. He returned to land and ultimately without anything else to fill the void, he shacked up with that very pirate, having countless adventures.

Eventually, he did find his happiness, closer than he thought, as the mermaid said so long ago. His daughter performing, singing as beautifully as any mermaid. And so the story ends with our Storyteller concluding that he doesn't need millions of people to hear his stories, and if they're good stories, they will be heard.

As an aspiring storyteller, this one spoke to my soul. No need to stress about telling bad stories, or failing. I'll hone my technique, and my good stories will prove themselves. This gives me hope and confidence to keep on following that path, to be the next Storyteller.

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