X is for X-men

Illustration by H. J. Ford in Andrew Lang's Yellow Fairy Book, 1894.

Illustration by H. J. Ford in Andrew Lang’s Yellow Fairy Book, 1894.



Before there was Stan Lee, there were X-men, mutant heroes. Storytellers call them “magical friends” for, with their mutant capabilities and unnatural powers, they befriend the hero in his quest. When I tell “The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship,” I call the seven heroes Hearsalot, Runsalot, Shootsalot, Eatsalot, and—by the time the last three arrive, kids are joining in: “Drinksalot!” “Strawsalot!” “Sticksalot!”

Without them, the Fool of the World could never have brought back the water of life from the well at the world’s end or foiled the Tsar’s tricks or married the Tsarevna!

Hooray for X-men!

Your quest for mutant heroes ends here: a picture book, a Classic Russian Collection, and a beloved Andrew Lang:

Ransome, Arthur, The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, illustrated by Uri Schulevitz. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968.

Ransome, Arthur, Old Peter’s Russian Tales. Mellon Press, 2008.

Lang, Andrew, The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford. Reprinted by Flying Chipmunk Publishing, 2009. (Also available for Kindle and on the Gutenberg Project.)

6 responses

  1. I tend to look at the Fool and the Flying Ship as being the traditional version of the X-Men. It’s interesting in seeing parallels between these two stories!

    • I only recently considered the connection, rabbitearsblog, but it fell right into place immediately! And “X” coming up on the April A to Z blogging challenge provided an opportunity to explore it at least a hundred words’ worth! Enjoyed my first visit to your blog, too!

  2. Thanks for adding some other examples, Nick! With my self-imposed hundred word limit, I was hoping for an additional paragraph or two.

  3. Looked at in that way, a lot of traditional stories have such characters. Characters from sources as wide-ranging as The Five Chinese Brothers and the stories of the great Irish heroes have characters with unusual “super powers”. For instance, the Irish Fianna had to display superhuman strength, speed and agility, along with a good memory for poetry. Tom Thumb and others were supernaturally small, inspiring superheroes such as Ant Man. The intelligent and erudite Beast from the X-Men was probably patterned after the one from Beauty and the Beast.
    This letter of the A to Z challenge was a surprising choice, but a good one.