Comics Series Reimagines Classic Work of Fantasy Writer That Inspired Lewis and Tolkien

The "true myths" of fantasy stories continue to shape our culture today. But few people know the Scottish author who inspired C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to create their fantasy worlds.

Cave Pictures Publishing desires to “tell stories for the spiritually inclined.” The indie comics publisher has launched with an adaptation of The Light Princess by Scottish author George MacDonald.

By Aaron Welty Published on February 9, 2019

In 1864, Christian minister George MacDonald published The Light Princess. The Scotsman authored dozens of fantastic novels and Christian apologetics during his lifetime. But perhaps none other carries such clear and compelling truths as this medieval tale.

Now his powerful story has been newly reimagined for today’s readers. Partly inspired by Sleeping Beauty, it tells of a young princess cursed at birth. Resolution to her plight is ultimately found in the redemptive actions of a stranger.

Cave Pictures Publishing is adapting the story for comics. For The Light Princess, Cave brought together artist Renae De Liz (Legend of Wonder Woman) with comics writer Meredith Finch, known for her work on Catwoman and her own mythic series Rose. With such talent, clearly the independent publisher has purposed to craft high-quality stories.

Spiritually Minded Comics 

Cave Pictures founder Mark Rodgers says they are crafting stories “for the spiritually inclined,” because of the power of comics in pop culture.

“The comic book industry is in need of redemptive stories [because] the industry has an outsized influence on pop culture,” Rodgers comments. “Comics are not just superhero stories. The culture has accepted graphic novels as a legitimate storytelling medium.”

“The comic book industry is in need of redemptive stories [because] the industry has an outsized influence on pop culture.”

He points out that comics are now often adapted for popular films and TV shows, meaning the reach of the medium is only growing. Rodgers also points to the influence of the Scottish writer, despite being largely forgotten today.

“George MacDonald was a pioneer in creating modern fairy tales and his work ultimately shaped writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis,” said Rodgers.

150 Years Later, Still Shaping the Culture

Without George MacDonald (1824-1905), there might not be The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. Fantasy influenced by Lewis and Tolkien – from Redwall to Eragon and Percy Jackson – might not exist either.

A recent documentary produced by faith-based studio Gateway Films reveals the fantasy genre as a seedbed for biblical truths. MacDonald is highlighted as “the father of fantasy literature.”

Historically, MacDonald’s Phantastes is credited for “baptizing the imagination” of C.S. Lewis. MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin was a childhood favorite of Tolkien’s. This new comic adaptation hopes to impact a new generation similarly.

Rodgers also comments thatThe Light Princess is considered to be the MacDonald story that parallels the gospel most closely.”

A Far-Off Kingdom, A Long-Awaited Birth

“The Light Princess is considered to be the MacDonald story that parallels the gospel most closely.”

In the story, a king and queen of a distant land are visiting fellow royals to celebrate a birth. However, this royal couple is childless. Their decade of infertility nearly embraces a solution that recalls Abraham and Hagar’s story.

This king is wiser. Affirming his vow of love for his Queen, they act. Months later, a princess is born.

Yet national celebration draws shadowy attention. Readers learn the king’s sister is responsible for the infertility. Much like Sleeping Beauty, she has a dark gift for the child.

The first of three issues goes places others may fear to tread, though still appropriate for children. It addresses hardship in love and marriage, grappling with infertility. The art is top-notch. Vibrant colors give these characters new life, and the story is much better for it.

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Renaissance painter Michelangelo advocated artists “criticize by creating.” This means to understand the craft and use it for the better.

With The Light Princess, Cave Pictures Publishing is doing just that. It tells a story from which any child or adult will gain riches of truth.

 

Released this month, the first two issues of The Light Princess are available online and at comic book stores nationwide. Explore The Stream’s complete arts and entertainment coverage.   

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