The Pied Piper of Hamelin was a story I remember reading when I was a kid and feeling uneasy afterwards. It was my first experience with an unexpected ending to a story. Revisiting that particular story was not something I had considered but the idea of exploring it within the merits of electronic literature made me very intrigued. I wondered about the potential innovative or creative possibilities that could be applied to it by an update in a digital medium. The result is the wonderful digital narration called Hobo Lobo of Hamelin. The story that made me feel tense in its traditional form is now one of my absolute favorites in its digital form.
It is always fascinating to observe reinterpretations of old stories or folktales in modern era. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a great example of mixing the traditional storytelling with modern satire and snark. The author simply describes his work by claiming that “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a thing by a dude, who’s all like, “I’m gonna make a thing.” and I interpret it as “don’t take it too seriously.” Political satire has the potential to upset people with strong and very serious political stance. Literary works such as this requires an open-minded approach to enjoy and examine it properly. The subtle – and often not so subtle – metaphorical imagery used in this story makes it a distinctive work.
The first major change that is noticeable from the original work is the main character, the piper, being a wolf instead of a human. The animal wolf is “a symbol of guardianship, ritual, loyalty, and spirit.” This seems to work more in line with the story’s satirical nature by introducing the character in this manner only to contrast it with the ending. The other obvious changes include modern aesthetics such as the rats being drug addicts and the major being depicted as present day politician who goes on a television program to spread his message. Along with certain details placed in the background of the images, such as the poster with “teamwork: town that prays together, stays together” on page 5, the author manages to offer his commentary on current political and social issues in subtle but arguably appropriate manner. It also proves how timeless the original work is by being very open to interpretation.
It would also be unfair not to mention the gorgeous artwork that is presented along with the story. The still animation of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin obviously resembles the pop-up books designed for younger readers. Their colorful and immersive nature often make them more attractive in comparison to more conventional examples. Some may argue that pop-up effect is a simple gimmick or an illusion that only offers the young reader a distraction. This notion is perfectly captured by the overwhelming size of the artwork over the written section on the page that showcases the concept of distraction and it creates irony. An effect designed for younger readers is used to divert attention from political threads of the story intended for adults. The use of newspaper comic strip drawing style, along with single color appliance over each page, which no doubt represents particular emotion that matches with action represented in the story, is also nothing short of brilliance. Imaginatively constructed shifts and alternations in animation truly captures the mood that the author is attempting to present.
The story examines the concepts of fear-mongering and alternative truths. Its open-ended conclusion, which is no doubt intentional, allows its reader to ponder upon many issues that we face on almost daily basis. Its navigational structure that resembles a newspaper reading is a compliment to its delicate nature. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a great reinterpretation of a classic story that everyone should experience.