Blancaflor is a folktale with Spanish and Latin American roots from a category of folktales called “Girl helps the hero flee.” High John the Conqueror is an African-American version you may have read in Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly. In this type of folktale, a man ends up being captured by a devil or magician, and has to complete a series of impossible tasks. But the devil/magician’s daughter falls for the hero, and helps him complete the tasks and escape with his life.
TOON Books has published Blancaflor, The Hero with Secret Powers: A Folktale from Latin America, a delightfully cute take by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez. It reframes Blancaflor as the actual hero and the Don Pedro character as a guileless, handsome, artsy dimwit who is lucky to have Blancaflor on his side. It also eliminates some of the old problematic elements of the tale (the magician tends to be abusive towards his wife), and reworks a few of the magical elements in fun ways.
The artwork will be very appealing to kid graphic novel readers (or anyone who likes their comics CUTE AF). I think Marvel kids could be persuaded to read it, because Blancaflor very much has superhero vibes (she even does some Ms. Marvel stretching at some point). But my favorite part of this version is that in an afterword, the creators briefly (but frankly) discuss the fairy tale’s relationship with women’s emotional (and physical) labor in heterosexual relationships. And any kids book that starts a conversation around weaponized incompetence and other modern marriage problems gets a gold star from me!