Little Red Riding Hood, the symbol of naivety growing into maturity (even if a little prematurely), is played with often these days. Just look up “Red Riding Hood” on Netflix: you get a several horror movies, Into the Woods (a musical), and a children’s cartoon version featuring the creepy Bratz dolls. She’s even a popular Halloween costume. Because every one is looking for their Big Bad Wolf to blow down their innocence.
But really, she isn’t the only character getting a make over. We’ve probably all seen the make over of Beauty and the Beast in New York with sewers and a district attorney or the new popular Once Upon a Time or the other legions of remakes. However, the best remakes seem to be in comic style.
A current webcomic called Erstwhile is three young female artists who take turns revising fairy tales in their own words and pictures. They don’t necessarily take the most famous tales either, All Fur and The Little Shroud being two of my favorite remakes thus far. The Little Shroud is done with almost complete silence even, only Gina Biggs’s art telling the tale, until the last few pages. Part of why fairy tales done in comic style are so intriguing and genuinely heartwarming (or breaking depending on the tale), is because a soulfully rendered picture can give a thousand more words and much more nuance than a million English majors crammed into one room together.
They can also help create a much different, much more horrifying and still comical fairytale world, like in the Vertigo comic Fables . Here we find our fairy tales heroes and heroines in the throes of an epic civil world which crosses dimensional lines when the fairy tales flee into our world, specifically New York City. The Beast changes into a monster when Beauty is mad at him (which is all the time), Prince Charming is no good cheating rat, and you don’t even want to know what Geppetto is up too. This comic which raises good humor and still puts on a very emotional war, is well delving deep into, even if these aren’t the fairy tales we know and love.
Sure, we find other modern plays on the fairy tales, such as John Connelly’s The Book of Lost Things (a good read about a little boy who must fight a world of twisted fairy tales to save his mother), but these comic renditions really give us a good view of the other world. Besides that, they help us suspend disbelief: we see the giants, the witches, and the monsters. We have some proof, showing us that what goes bump in the night really can creep up on us.