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Françoise Mouly Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

review strange york tale

Born 1974; Education: Attended École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (architecture).

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins, 10 East 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.

Career

Editor and publisher. Worked variously as a secretary, electrician, house painter, and cigarette girl; Raw (magazine), New York, NY, co-publisher and editor, beginning 1980; New Yorker, New York, NY, art editor, 1993—.

Writings

"LITTLE LIT" SERIES; EDITOR, WITH HUSBAND, ART SPIEGELMAN

Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Strange Stories for Strange Kids, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

It Was a Dark and Silly Night, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

OTHER

(Editor, with husband, Art Spiegelman) Read Yourself Raw (excerpts from issues 1-3), Pantheon (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor, with husband, Art Spiegelman) Mark Beyer, Agony, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor, with husband, Art Spiegelman) Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Covering the New Yorker: Cutting-Edge Covers from a Literary Institution, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Editor, with husband, Art Spiegelman, of Raw (magazine), Raw Books (New York, NY), beginning 1980.

Sidelights

In addition to her work as a magazine editor, Françoise Mouly and her husband, graphic artist Art Spiegelman, have worked together on a number of publishing projects, including the illustrated adult magazine Raw and, more recently, a series of books for children called "Little Lit," which features full-color, illustrated stories. The first volume of "Little Lit," titled Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies, was published in 2000, and includes a mix of comics, games, and prose literature for children. Among the seventeen artists represented in the book are Spiegelman, who presents the folk tale "Prince Rooster"; author David Macaulay's retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk," featuring a wisecracking Jack who is dismissive of the dumb giant; a 1943 "Gingerbread Man" strip by the late Walt Kelly, creator of the long-running "Pogo" comic strip; Daniel Clowes' comic-book version of "The Sleeping Beauty"; and Paris-based author/artist Lorenzo Mattotti's interpretation of the Italian tale "The Two Hunchbacks."

In addition to stories, Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies also contain fun, in the form of four puzzle games, including Chris Ware's board game titled Fairy Tale Road Rage and a what's-wrong-with-this-picture Rapunzel. Other contributors include children's book author William Joyce, as well as Barbara McClintock, Harry Bliss, Charles Burns, and others. In School Library Journal, Nancy Palmer praised the series as a whole for its "stylish graphic design and layout, full-color art, large format, and quality, heavyweight paper," as well as for its imaginative concept, all of which are present in the first "Little Lit" volume. As reviewer Kate McClelland explained in another School Library Journal appraisal, as Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies shows, what comics and folk tales have in common is that they "both depend on our understanding of universal symbols and icons" as well as readers willing to "fill in the details with their own imaginations."

The second volume of "Little Lit" is titled Strange Stories for Strange Kids. Here Mouly and Spiegelman include a story by "Where's Waldo?" creator Martin Handford, "Cereal Baby Killer," by Maurice Sendak, "Trapped in a Comic Book" by Jules Feiffer, and Posy Simmonds's global-warming tale, "Mr. Frost." The other stories cover a wide range of off-kilter subjects, including a happier version of a classic Twilight Zone television episode. A 1942 reprint of a "Barnaby" installment by Crocket Johnson, author/illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon, is also included. Like the first book, Strange Stories for Strange Kids includes jokes and games, and the end papers contain cartoon-drawing lessons by Kaz, who says that a "cute" character can be created by adding a pierced nose and a goatee.

The third book in the "Little Lit" series, It Was a Dark and Silly Night, features the work of popular writer Lemony Snicket, J. Otto Siebold, British graphic novelist Neil Gaiman, Gahan Wilson, and Joyce, as well as a reprint of an installment in Basil Wolverton's 1952 comic "Jumpin' Jupiter." Most of the seventeen tales collected in the volume are original and begin with the book's title phrase. A Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed It Was a Dark and Silly Night "alternately cute and creepy," while in another review for the same magazine a contributor wrote that the series would appeal to "oddballs of all ages." In School Library Journal Grace Oliff noted that the colorful format used by Mouly and Spiegelman in their "Little Lit" series "will entice both reluctant and enthusiastic readers to return again and again."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Art Journal, fall, 1991, Rebecca Zurier, review of Raw: Required Reading for the Post-Literate, Volume 2, number 2, pp. 98-103.

Booklist, December 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Strange Stories for Strange Kids, p. 726.

Newsweek, January 18, 1988, Peter S. Prescott and Ray Sawhill, review of Read Yourself Raw, pp. 70-71.

New Yorker, February 19, 2001, Françoise Mouly and Lawrence Weschler, "Covering the New Yorker: A Conversation," pp. 22-32.

New York Times Book Review, November 19, 2000, Leonard S. Marcus, review of Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies, p. 48.

Publishers Weekly, June 23, 1989, review of Raw: Open Wounds from the Cutting Edge of Commix, Volume 2, number 1, p. 54; October 16, 2000, Calvin Reid, interview with Mouly and Spiegelman, p. 44; January 1, 2002, review of Strange Stories for Strange Kids; August 4, 2003, review of It Was a Dark and Silly Night, p. 80.

School Library Journal, December, 2000, Kate McClelland, review of Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies, p. 136; March, 2002, Grace Oliff, review of Strange Stories for Strange Kids, p. 221; September, 2003, Nancy Palmer, review of It Was a Dark and Silly Night, p. 208.

Tikkun, March-April, 1992, Paul Buhle, review of Raw 3: High Culture for Lowbrows, pp. 9-16.

Wall Street Journal, November 3, 1987, Raymond Sokolov, reviews of Read Yourself Raw and Agony.

ONLINE

BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (August 15, 2003), Alan Bird, review of It Was a Dark and Silly Night.

January Online, http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (November, 2000), Claude Lalumière, review of Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies.

Little Lit Web site, http://www.little-lit.com/ (December 15, 2004).*

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