Comic fantasy

Comic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is primarily humorous in intent and tone. Usually set in imaginary worlds, comic fantasy often includes puns on and parodies of other works of fantasy. It is sometimes known as low fantasy in contrast to high fantasy, which is primarily serious in intent and tone. The term "low fantasy" is used to represent other types of fantasy, however, so while comic fantasies may also correctly be classified as low fantasy, many examples of low fantasy are not comic in nature.


The subgenre rose in the nineteenth century. Elements of comic fantasy can be found in such nineteenth century works as some of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, Charles Dickens' "Christmas Books", and Lewis Carroll's Alice books.[1] The first writer to specialize in the subgenre was "F. Anstey" in novels such as Vice Versa (1882), where magic disrupts Victorian society with humorous results.[1] Anstey's work was popular enough to inspire several imitations, including E. Nesbit's light-hearted children's fantasies, The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) and The Story of the Amulet (1906).[1] The United States had several writers of comic fantasy, including James Branch Cabell, whose satirical fantasy Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice (1919) was the subject of an unsuccessful prosecution for obscenity.[2] Another American writer in a similar vein was Thorne Smith, whose works (such as Topper and The Night Life of the Gods) were popular and influential, and often adapted for film and television.[3] Humorous fantasies narrated in a "gentleman's club" setting are common; they include John Kendrick Bangs' A Houseboat on the Styx (1895), Lord Dunsany's "Jorkens" stories, and Maurice Richardson's The Exploits of Englebrecht (1950).[4]

According to Lin Carter, T. H. White's works exemplify comic fantasy,[5] L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's Harold Shea stories are early exemplars. The overwhelming bulk of de Camp's fantasy was comic.[6] Pratt and de Camp were among several contributors to Unknown Worlds, a pulp magazine which emphasized fantasy with a comedic element. The work of Fritz Leiber also appeared in Unknown Worlds, including his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, a jocose take on the sword and sorcery subgenre.[1]

In more modern times, Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, Piers Anthony's Xanth books, Robert Asprin's MythAdventures of Skeeve and Aahz books, and Tom Holt's books provide good examples,[1] as do many of the works by Christopher Moore. There are also comic-strips/graphic novels in the humorous fantasy genre, including Chuck Whelon's Pewfell series and the webcomics 8-Bit Theater and The Order of the Stick. Other recent authors in the genre include Toby Frost, Stuart Sharp, Nicholas Andrews, and DC Farmer, and the writing team of John P. Logsdon and Christopher P. Young.

Other media

The subgenre has also been represented in television, such as in the television series I Dream of Jeannie, Kröd Mändoon. Examples on radio are the BBC's Hordes of the Things and ElvenQuest. Comic fantasy films can either be parodies (Monty Python and the Holy Grail), comedies with fantastical elements (Being John Malkovich) or animated (Shrek). It has also been used in the movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Humourous Fantasy" in David Pringle,ed, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, (pp.31-33). London, Carlton,2006. ISBN 1-84442-110-4
  2. ^ Edgar MacDonald, "James Branch Cabell" in E. F. Bleiler, ed.Supernatural Fiction Writers (pp. .789-796). New York: Scribner's, 1985. ISBN 0-684-17808-7
  3. ^ Keith Neilson, "Thorne Smith" in Bleiler, ed.Supernatural Fiction Writers. (pp. 805-812), 1985.
  4. ^ David Langford, "Humor", in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005 ISBN 0313329516, (p.401-404).
  5. ^ Lin Carter, ed. Kingdoms of Sorcery, p 121–2. Doubleday and Company Garden City, NY, 1976.
  6. ^ Carter. Kingdoms of Sorcery.

External links

Abra Cadabra (1983 film)

Abra Cadabra is a 1983 animated comic fantasy Australian film about an optimistic boy and his friends, based loosely on the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The film was directed and written by Alexander Stitt and stars John Farnham and Jacki Weaver. It is the first ever animated feature film to be made in 3-D. Stitt co-produced the film with Phillip Adams.

The film was theatrically released in stereoscopic 3D as well as in a regular version.

Arthur White (actor)

Arthur White (born 1933) is an English stage and screen actor, best known for his occasional role as police archivist Ernie Trigg in the crime drama A Touch of Frost, alongside his real-life younger brother David Jason. His parents were Arthur R White and Olwen Jones. He also appeared briefly along with his brother in two episodes of The Darling Buds of May.

In 1978 White appeared as part of an underworld gang, playing the role of Freddy in an apisode of the hard-hitting 1970s British police drama The Professionals, the episode entitled When the Heat Cools Off.In 2008, he worked with Jason again on the comic fantasy The Colour of Magic, where he starred as a character called "Rerpf". He has also made appearances on popular television series such as Crossroads, The Professionals, London's Burning, As Time Goes By, Heartbeat and Family Affairs.


Arzach (French: [aʁzak]) is a comic book collection of four wordless short stories by artist/author Jean 'Moebius' Giraud, which were originally published in the French sci-fi/fantasy comics magazine Métal Hurlant. The stories follow Arzach, a silent warrior who rides a pterodactyl-like creature through a strange, desolate landscape. The imagery and situations in Arzach are often compared to dreams or the subconscious. These stories had an enormous impact on the French comics industry, and the Arzach character is still among Moebius' most famous creations. It can be defined as a pantomime comic, fantasy comics or an experimental comic.

The spelling of the title, originally Arzach, was changed in each of the original short stories.

Moebius later revisited the character with a story called The Legend of Arzach. This later story contains dialogue, and it ties the Arzach stories into a previously unrelated Moebius story called The Detour.

Moebius' 2010 book Arzak: L'Arpenteur (Arzak: The Surveyor) was the first of a planned trilogy to explore the origin of the character. However, with the death of Jean Giraud in March 2012, this vision was never realised.

Carpe Jugulum

Carpe Jugulum (; Latatian for "seize the throat", cf. Carpe diem) is a comic fantasy novel by English writer Terry Pratchett, the twenty-third in the Discworld series. It was first published in 1998.In Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett pastiches the traditions of vampire literature, playing with the mythic archetypes and featuring a tongue-in-cheek reversal of 'vampyre' subculture with young vampires who wear bright clothes, drink wine, and stay up until noon.

Christopher Moore (author)

Christopher Moore (born January 1, 1957) is an American writer of comic fantasy. He was born in Toledo, Ohio. He grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University and Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California.

An only child, Moore learned to amuse himself with his imagination. He loved reading and his father brought him plenty of books from the library every week. He started writing around the age of twelve and realized that this was his talent by the time he was 16, and he began to consider making it his career.Moore's novels typically involve conflicted everyman characters struggling through supernatural or extraordinary circumstances. With the possible exceptions of Fool, The Serpent of Venice, and Sacré Bleu, all his books take place in the same universe and some characters recur from novel to novel.

According to his interview in the June 2007 issue of Writer's Digest, the film rights to Moore's first novel, Practical Demonkeeping (1992), were purchased by Disney even before the book had a publisher. In answer to repeated questions from fans over the years, Moore stated that all of his books have been optioned or sold for films, but that as yet "none of them are in any danger of being made into a movie."Moore has named Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, John Steinbeck, Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and Ian Fleming as key influences on his writing.As of June 2006, Moore has been living in San Francisco, after a few years on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

Equal Rites

Equal Rites is a comic fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett. Published in 1987, it is the third novel in the Discworld series and the first in which the main character is not Rincewind. The title is wordplay on the phrase "Equal Rights".

The novel introduces the character of Granny Weatherwax, who reappears in several later Discworld novels. The protagonist Eskarina Smith does not return until I Shall Wear Midnight, which was published 23 years later.

Pratchett cast the character of Esk after his daughter Rhianna Pratchett.

Fantasy world

A fantasy world is an author-conceived world created in fictional media, such as literature, film or games. Typical fantasy worlds involve magic or magical abilities, nonexistent technology and sometimes, either a historical or futuristic theme. Some worlds may be a parallel world connected to Earth via magical portals or items (like Narnia); a fictional Earth set in the remote past or future (like Middle-earth); or an entirely independent world set in another part of the universe (like the Star Wars Galaxy).Many fantasy worlds draw heavily on real world history, geography, sociology, mythology, and folklore.

I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight is comic fantasy novel by English writer Terry Pratchett, set on the Discworld. It is the fourth novel within the Discworld series to be based on the character of Tiffany Aching. It was published on 2 September 2010 in the United Kingdom, and on 28 September in the United States, and won the 2010 Andre Norton Award.It centres on Tiffany Aching, who is now fifteen years old and getting on with the hard work of being a witch. The title is taken from a quotation in A Hat Full of Sky: "When I'm old I shall wear midnight, she'd decided. But for now she'd had enough of darkness."

In an interview at the Guardian Book Club, Pratchett remarked that the book is an urban fantasy.

John Salew

John Rylett Salew (1902, Portsmouth, Hampshire – 14 September 1961, Hammersmith, London) was an English stage film and TV actor. Salew made the transition from stage to films in 1939, and according to Allmovie, "the manpower shortage during WWII enabled the stout, balding Salew to play larger and more important roles than would have been his lot in other circumstances. He usually played suspicious-looking characters, often Germanic in origin." His screen roles included William Shakespeare in the comic fantasy Time Flies (1944), Grimstone in the Gothic melodrama Uncle Silas (1947), and the librarian in the supernatural thriller Night of the Demon (1957). John Salew was active into the TV era, playing the sort of character parts that John McGiver played in the US

Mike Ashley (writer)

Michael Raymond Donald Ashley (born 1948) is a British bibliographer, author and editor of science fiction, mystery, and fantasy.

He edits the long-running Mammoth Book series of short story anthologies, each arranged around a particular theme in mystery, fantasy, or science fiction. He has a special interest in fiction magazines and has written a multi-volume History of the Science Fiction Magazine and a study of British fiction magazines, The Age of the Storytellers. He won the Edgar Award for The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction. In addition to the books listed below he edited and prepared for publication the novel The Enchantresses (1997) by Vera Chapman. He has contributed to many reference works including The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (as Contributing Editor) and The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (as Contributing Editor of the third edition). He wrote the books to accompany the British Library's exhibitions, Taking Liberties in 2008 and Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It in 2011.

He lives in Chatham, Kent, England.

Scott Meyer (author)

Scott Oscar Meyer is an American author, comedian, and artist, known for his webcomic Basic Instructions and his comic fantasy series Magic 2.0.

The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man

The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man (1973) is a children's comic fantasy novel by Lloyd Alexander.

The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic is a 1983 comic fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett, and is the first book of the Discworld series. The first printing of the British edition consisted of 506 copies. Pratchett has described it as "an attempt to do for the classical fantasy universe what Blazing Saddles did for Westerns."

The Eye of Tandyla

"The Eye of Tandyla" is a fantasy story by American writer L. Sprague de Camp, part of his Pusadian series. It was first published in the magazine Fantastic Adventures for May, 1951, and first appeared in book form in de Camp's collection The Tritonian Ring and Other Pusadian Tales (Twayne, 1953). The story has also appeared in the magazine Fantastic for November 1965, the anthologies Time Untamed (1967), The Magic of Atlantis (1970), Wizards (1983), and The Mammoth Book of Seriously Comic Fantasy (1999) (also published as The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy II), and the de Camp omnibus collection Lest Darkness Fall/Rogue Queen/The Tritonian Ring and Other Pusadian Tales (2014). It has also been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German and Russian.

The Haunted Castle (1896 film)

Le Manoir du diable or The House of the Devil, released in the United States as The Haunted Castle and in Britain as The Devil's Castle, is an 1896 French short silent film directed by Georges Méliès. The film, a brief pantomimed sketch in the style of a theatrical comic fantasy, tells the story of an encounter with the Devil and various attendant phantoms. It is intended to evoke amusement and wonder from its audiences, rather than fear. However, because of its themes and characters, it can technically be considered the first horror film (and, because it includes a transformation involving a bat, it has even been called the first vampire film). The film is also innovative in length - its running time of over three minutes was ambitious for its era.

The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic is a comic fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett, the second of the Discworld series. It was published on 2 June 1986, the first printing being of 1,034 copies. The title is a quote from a poem by John Milton and in the original context referred to dancing lightly with extravagance.

The events of the novel are a direct continuation of those in the preceding book, The Colour of Magic (the only Discworld novel to follow on in this manner).

The Shepherd's Crown

The Shepherd's Crown is a comic fantasy novel, the last book written by Terry Pratchett before his death in March 2015. It is the 41st novel in the Discworld series, and the fifth of these to be based on the character of Tiffany Aching. It was published in the United Kingdom on 27 August 2015 by Penguin Random House publishers, and in the United States on 1 September 2015.In early June 2015, the custodian of the late author's works, his daughter Rhianna Pratchett, announced that The Shepherd's Crown would be the last Discworld novel, and that no further works or books of unfinished work would be authorised for publication.

The Wee Free Men

The Wee Free Men is a 2003 comic fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, which takes place in his Discworld setting. It is labelled a "Story of Discworld" to indicate its status as children's or young adult fiction, unlike most of the books in the Discworld series. A sequel, A Hat Full of Sky, appeared in 2004 (both books were republished in a combined edition, The Wee Free Men: The Beginning, in August 2010); a third book called Wintersmith appeared in 2006; and the fourth, I Shall Wear Midnight, was released in September 2010. The final book in the series, The Shepherd's Crown, was released in 2015.

While Terry Pratchett's first Discworld book for children, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents had swearing translated to rat language, in this book it is in the dialect of the Nac Mac Feegle which is taken from Scots and Scottish Gaelic.

An illustrated edition of the novel, with pictures by Stephen Player, appeared in print on 2 October 2008.


Wintersmith is a comic fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, set in the Discworld and written with younger readers in mind. It is labelled a "Story of Discworld" to indicate its status as children's or young adult fiction, unlike most of the books in the Discworld series. Published on 21 September 2006, it is the third novel in the series to feature the character of Tiffany Aching. It received recognition as a 2007 Best Book for Young Adults from the American Library Association.In 2013 folk-rock band Steeleye Span collaborated with Pratchett, a fan of the band, to produce a Wintersmith concept album, released in October 2013.

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