With 280 pages to pore over, Ballad is a miniature sized tome that breathes new life into the age-old fairytale. The book is divided into seven chapters, each longer and more fantastical than the last. As a young girl’s imagination spirals into mayhem, will this fairytale have its happy ending?
Let us walk you through the first chapter; “the school, the road, home,” these three pages are the totality of chapter one. The second chapter is similar though interspersed with a few additions, and as each chapter is read new pages weave themselves into the tale allowing the story to gain momentum and become ever more surreal. The to-ing and fro-ing of the story retraces the steps of the young girl whose tale we become absorbed in, and though the repetitive format offers some comfort as the peril escalates, we find ourselves reading faster and faster in order that we might outrun the danger within.
Ballad contains an undercurrent of darkness made all the more tangible through Blexbolex’s screen-printed illustrations, which being by Blexbolex are naturally stunning. The grainy reprographic texture lends itself perfectly to the fairytale subject matter, and what’s so unusual to see is the inclusion of fluorescent orange which creates a wonderful juxtaposition of modern pop against the page. Though isolated from the illustrations, the typography created by Patrick Doan, with all its curves and loops is the perfect accompaniment to the imagery, evoking as it does our memories of fairytales. Whilst the images repeat themselves they are never identical, and you begin to find yourself hunting out the minute changes, becoming ever more engrossed in the book.
In Blexbolex’s hands the idea of a fairytale has been beautifully remoulded into something altogether original and engaging. Ballad is a book like no other, and as such should be treasured. With so much contained between its covers, this a story that you are certain to visit again and again.