Jessica: True Blood’s Little Red Riding Hood

I’ve been considering doing a post on fairy tales in “True Blood” ever since the beginning of season 4.  In episode 1 of this season (“She’s Not There”), Sookie (Anna Paquin) learned that Claudine (Lara Pulver)  was actually her fairy godmother.  Then, two episodes later, in episode 3, “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin’?”, Sookie’s “fairy godmother” comes up, yet again.  While it’s clear to me that the fairy godmother is an obvious Cinderella reference, I just didn’t think this was enough for a whole post.  Certain that we would learn more about the denizens of Faery, I decided to wait a while to make a full post on fairy tales in “True Blood.”  After seeing Jessica’s (Deborah Ann Woll) Little Red Riding Hood getup in the season finale, however, I couldn’t resist a mini-post.

For those of you who didn’t see the episode, here’s the first scene in which we see Jessica as Little Red.

Although the footage of Jessica running through the woods with her cloak flowing behind her is lovely, HBO’s post to the fictional character’s blog is much more interesting.  In the original fairy tale, Little Red is clearly the victim; she’s a helpless little girl who falls prey to a devious wolf.  Jessica, however, is anything but prey.  In the world of “True Blood,” she’s the ultimate predator: a vampire.  Werewolves (or regular wolves, for that matter) are no match for her supernatural powers.  By dressing up as Little Red, Jessica is turning the story upside down.  This Little Red isn’t exactly innocent.  In this story, she’s the irresistible evil lurking in the forest.

The thing is, the original fairy tale paints a picture of a darker Little Red Riding Hood–one a bit more like Jessica.  In the earliest versions of the story, the wolf makes the little girl into a cannibal by convincing her to eat her grandmother’s blood and flesh.  That sounds more than a little vampiric to me.

Not only that, but Jessica’s version of Little Red is an extremely seductive one, and what is “Little Red Riding Hood” if not a cautionary tale about resisting temptation?  If the girl had listened to her mother rather than leaving the path to pick flowers, she would never have run into trouble in the first place.

For those of you interested in replicating Jessica’s costume for Halloween, the True Blood Fashion Q & A has a great article on putting it together, including tips as well as links to stores at which some of the pieces can be purchased.

As I said before, I expect many more fairy tale references from this show in the future, what with the recent addition of fairies and fairy godmothers.  Until then, however, at least we have Jessica as Little Red.

Advertisements

Fables 15: Rose Red

As fans of the series may know, the fifteenth Fables trade paperback came out earlier this week, on April 11, and it contains the series’ 100th issue.  The collection, titled “Rose Red,” follows the Fables community as it rallies to fight a new enemy, Mister Dark.  Of course, with Rose Red still in a deep depression over Boy Blue’s recent death, and all of the New York Fables living at the farm due to Mister Dark’s destruction of Fabletown, many different Fables and factions are vying for power.

I’ll try my hardest to not to give too much away,with this review, but I must warn you that there may be some SPOILERS.  If you don’t want to know anything about what happens in this story arc, stop reading now.

Rose Red

One thing I really enjoyed about this collection is that we finally had the opportunity to hear Rose Red’s whole back story.  We have known for years that Rose ended her sister Snow White’s marriage to Prince Charming, but this book shows us why and how.  It also shows us that this event was not actually what tore the sisters apart to begin with.  It was nice to be able to put Rose’s choices over the past few centuries into context.

Another thing that I loved was getting to see Frau Totenkinder unleash her full magical power to battle Fabletown’s newest adversary, Mister Dark.  Their battle is fantastic, and I always love plotlines that involve her.  Seeing as she’s one of the series’ richest and most interesting characters, I was saddened by this edition’s suggestion that we won’t be hearing any more about her.  The witch of the Black Forest will be greatly missed.

A few plotlines appeared in this collection that I’m really looking forward to hearing more about.  For one thing, the ever unpleasant Nurse Spratt appears to be more than just a bitch; she’s on her way to great betrayal.  Secondly, it seems like Snow and Bigby’s secret seventh child, Ghost, will finally be featured in the story that’s been hinted at for years, now; his grandfather, the North Wind, has discovered his existence.

One thing that got a little frustrating in this story arc was its overuse of twist endings.  In quick succession, a character dies, returns, and kills another character who also returns several pages later.  The last fifteen pages of the story are unnecessarily roller-coaster-esque.  While interesting, it was frankly a little ridiculous.

Overall, however, this collection was fantastic, and I loved the opportunity to read more about Fabletown’s most terrifying enemy to date.  This is a must-read for any fan of the series.

Steampunk Fairy Tales Part Two

Since my previous post on steampunk fairy tales was so popular, I decided to do a second entry on the subject.  As before, I’d like to share a few of my favorite steampunk fairy tale images as well as some reflections on them.

“Snow White” by Craig a.k.a. ~xiwik

This steampunk rendition of “Snow White” is fantastic.  The artist kept some of the traditional Snow White elements, such as the dwarf, the apple, and the short dark hair, but was not afraid to branch out.  I love that Snow’s traditional Disney garb was ignored completely.  I also adore the details on Snow’s belt.  Those hanging gears remind me of this steampunk harness I spotted on Etsy.  The pick-axes and striped arm-warmers are beautiful details, while the goggles, shoulder armor, and gears give this image a truly steampunk flavor.  To see more of ~xiwik’s art, visit his deviantART gallery.

“Steampunk Fairy Tale Goldylocks” by Lavah

I can’t get enough of this gorgeous steampunk Goldilocks!  Since her story is so rarely retold, it’s a special treat to see this fairy tale character re-imagined.  My favorite part of this drawing is definitely the bears; their steampunk-style helmets are fantastic.  I also like Goldie’s goggles.  To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of her nearly completely revealed bum, as I don’t feel it really adds anything to the picture, but it doesn’t really detract, either.  Overall, this is a wonderfully detailed image, and I’d love to read a retold fairy tale based on it.  To see more of Lavah’s work, visit her deviantART gallery.

“Steampunk Fairy Tale: Red” by Paul Reck a.k.a. ~o ding raphics

Not only is this an awesome piece of art, but it comes with a story concept as well.  The artist had this to say about it: “This is Red Riding Hood.  She has to get the basket, a revolutionary power source, to ‘Granny’s House’ before the Big Bad Wolf gets her.”  Best of all, he says he might do a short comic starring these characters.  Red’s outfit is incredible, and I love the wolf’s stilts!  The idea of dressing the wolf up in steampunk garb even makes sense; even in the original version of the tale, the Big Bad Wolf is prone to dressing up in other people’s clothing.  For more of Paul Reck’s (~o ding raphics) work, visit his deviantART gallery.

As I mentioned before, the only thing I love more than these two genres is seeing them mixed.  Hopefully, we’ll keep seeing more combinations of the two.

Once Upon a Webcomic: Ryan North Strikes Again

Some of you may recall last week’s Once Upon a Webcomic on Ryan North’s “Dinosaur Comics.”  Apparently, since that time, Ryan North has become determined to blow my mind.  His last three webcomic posts have been a fantastic series on fairy tales.

The first of these retells “Little Red Riding Hood” including some of the more disturbing details from older versions of the story.  Yes, in some versions, Little Red actually did eat her dead grandmother and escape because she told the wolf she had to poop and didn’t want to have an accident in the bed.

In his next comic, North addresses “Sleeping Beauty.”  Some of the information he gives us is true; the Prince really did rape the title character, causing her to give birth to the twins who woke her from her slumber.  Of course, he also provides us with some false information.  “Sleeping Beauty,” while it describes the character, is not her name.  She has been known, in different versions of the tale, as Talia, Aurora, Briar Rose, and more.

Finally, North writes a comic strip in which T-Rex tries to write his own less disturbing fairy tale.  Of course, he fails when he creates a story with a gender-confused protagonist (reminiscent of Ozma) who uses magic to enable her friends to cannibalize an evil wizard.

With any luck, Ryan North will keep reflecting on fairy tales in their grisly, original forms and make comic strips about even more of the old favorites.

Once Upon a Webcomic: Dinosaur Comics Fairy Tales

Since last week’s post on XKCD fairy tales was so popular and many of my favorite webcomics have referenced fairy tales in the past, I decided to start a new recurring feature called Once Upon a Webcomic.  My second webcomic post centers around another of my favorites: “Dinosaur Comics” or “Qwantz” by Ryan North.

Although Dinosaur Comics has referenced fairy tales on a number of hilarious occasions, the following comic is my favorite example of this.

As you can see, this comic takes a humorous poke at fairy tale retellings.  While many of them are interesting and inventive, some do seem a little silly.  For instance, take a look at the plot of Disney’s upcoming film, “Snow White and the Seven“; if Snow White is a British woman in China in the 1800s and the dwarves are actually not dwarves but international warriors teaching her how to fight, is it really even the same story?  Sure, the concept sounds pretty cool, but at what point does it begin to distract from the actual story and become a little pointless?

I can’t help but feel the same about Maureen McGowan’s new books “Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer” and “Cinderella: Ninja Warrior.” I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and read them on the off chance that they may actually be cool and funny mash-ups, but frankly they sound a little ridiculous.  Hopefully, that’s intentional.

When retelling fairy tales, it can be easy to get caught up in trying to make everything “totally sweet” and forget about what you were actually trying to do in the first place; breathe life back into an old story.  Of course, that doesn’t mean space travel and fairy tales should never mix; in her book of short fairy tale retellings “Red as Blood,” Tanith Lee masterfully reconciles these genres in “Beauty,” a futuristic retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”

To see some other fairy tale references in Dinosaur Comics, check out the comics from November 20, 2003 and May 31, 2006.

Fairy Tales and Comic Books: Not Just For Kids

As the sort of people who would read a fairy tale blog, you probably already believe that fairy tales are not just for children.  In my opinion, neither are comic books.  In fact, there are more and more comic books out there geared toward mature audiences.

That being said, fairy tales and adult comic books are a match made in heaven.  Vertigo’s “Fables,” although it is not the only adult fairy tale comic (Its main competitor is probably Zenescope’s “Grimm Fairy Tales.”), is arguably the best.

“Fables” is based on the premise that all of our favorite fairy tale characters are real beings from magical parallel worlds.  After being chased from their homes by “the Adversary,” they fled to New York City, where they began a secret community right under the noses of us “mundies,” meaning “mundane, non-magical people”–sort of the “Fables” version of J. K. Rowling’s “muggles.”  These “fables,” as they call themselves, are essentially immortal, and are kept alive by the mundies’ belief in them and love of their stories.

Their lives in New York City, however, are not a paradise.  The Adversary is still out to get them, and they have their own drama to deal with.  Snow White is now the deputy mayor of Fabletown, the Big Bad Wolf has taken human form and works as the town Sheriff, Prince Charming is sleeping with anything that moves, and Cinderella works at a shoe store, which gives her time to moonlight as a Fabletown secret agent.  Let’s just say that these are not your little sister’s fairy tales, and you should never read them to her.  These are definitely meant for mature audiences.

Overall, “Fables” is a brilliant series.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll marvel at the darkness its creators have brought to the series, and you’ll love every second of it.  Not only that, but there’s also a spin-off series to keep you occupied; “Jack of Fables” chronicles the often sordid adventures of Jack Horner following his banishment from Fabletown.

This is a perfect example of modern fairy tales done correctly.  This series has been running for almost ten years (since 2002), and I am hoping for at least another ten.

%d bloggers like this: