Once Upon a Webcomic: Erstwhile Tales

Although I’ve done many posts in my “Once Upon a Webcomic” series, Gina Biggs’ Erstwhile Tales is perhaps my favorite find among them.  Strangely, it’s also the one that seems to require the least amount of explanation.

Instead of just referencing the most obvious fairy tales (i.e. Cinderella, Snow White, etc.), this webcomic’s entire purpose is to shed light on some of the lesser known stories from the Grimm Brothers’ collection.  As someone who loves these less remembered stories best of all, I could hardly believe my luck when I stumbled upon this ongoing comic series that tells some of my favorites in comic form.

The stories, however, are not the only things to love about Erstwhile Tales; Biggs’ playful, storybook-style illustrations are lovely and perfectly capture the feel of the tales she uses this medium to share.

If you love lesser known fairy tales or would like to give some of them a try, you’ll delight in the magic of Erstwhile Tales.

Warehouse 13 and Fairy Tales

If any of you watch the SyFy Network’s original series, “Warehouse 13,” you might have noticed the following lines in this past week’s episode (“Insatiable,” season three, episode ten).

Myka: “We deal with artifacts, not fairy tales.”

Pete: “Well, a lot of those artifacts come from fairy tales…”

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the show, the basic concept is this; the Warehouse agents (most of whom are in the Secret Service) travel around the world collecting dangerous objects imbued with  supernatural powers.  Many of these artifacts are historical in nature and get their power from contact with now well-known historical figures or situations.  For instance, a piece of driftwood from the Titanic can give people hypothermia, and Edgar Allen Poe’s pen allows its wielder to bring Poe’s stories to life.

This is far from the first time the show has hinted at fairy tales.  In fact, as you can see in the clip below, a shot of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” appeared in the season one opening theme.

Although this episode was more about zombies than princesses, “Warehouse 13” has previously confirmed that in the world of the show fairy tales are based in reality.  This is evidenced by Cinderella’s Knife, an artifact the team chases in season two, episode ten (“Where and When”).  According to Artie (Saul Rubinek), the story of Cinderella and her glass slippers originated from the real Cinderella’s use of the knife, which turns its victims into glass.  The show has also played with artifacts and ideas from other fictional stories, such as Carlo Collodi’s “Pinocchio” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  Although these are NOT true fairy tales, they often get lumped in together.

Considering the fact that this season’s main villain is after a Pinocchio themed artifact (author Carlo Collodi’s bracelet), it seems that Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka’s (Joanne Kelly) conversation may not just have been simple banter.  Although Myka is skeptical, Pete recognizes the potential for truth behind fairy tales.  They’ve encountered one fairy tale item (Cinderella’s knife), so why not others?  After all, the Warehouse did introduce them to “a world of endless wonder.”  I can’t help but think that more fairy tale artifacts are in store for the Warehouse agents.  There’s just too much foreshadowing and suggestion here for this not to pan out.

What do you think?  Are there more twisted fairy tale artifacts to come in this season of Warehouse 13?

Leatherbound Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales

I have been trying to get my hands on a copy of the Barnes & Noble exclusive leatherbound “Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales” for several months, but the book has always been sold out.  In fact, when my fiance tried to order it for me, we were later contacted and told that the order was canceled because the book would not be restocked in the foreseeable future.  Today, however, I received this beautiful tome as an early birthday gift.

As you can see, the book itself is gorgeous.  The craftsmanship of it is fantastic; each page is decorated with gold edges.  It contains more than 100 stories and many beautiful, full color illustrations, plus a great and informative introduction by none other than Jane Yolen, a frequent reteller of fairy tales.  I’ve only had it for a few hours, but I would already recommend it to any lover of fairy tales.

To my delight, Yolen touches on the continuously evolving nature of fairy tales in her introduction.  Yolen explains that, although the Brothers Grimm collected these old stories and sometimes penned them in a more grisly fashion than today’s versions might suggest, even they softened the original tales for their perceived audiences, removing the most erotic scenes to avoid offense.  Once they realized the tales were being read to children rather than studied for their academic value, they began to make their stories altogether tamer.  While some of the tales recorded by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm may seem dark in comparison to the Disney versions of more recent years, it is fascinating to remember that even older, more sinister tellings are at the root of the oral fairy tale tradition.

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