Recap #208: Grimm Fairy Tales #1: Red Riding Hood by Joe Tyler and Ralph Tedesco
Grimm Fairy Tales #1 – Red Riding Hood, a.k.a. “Little Red Abstinent Hood”
Writers: Joe Tyler & Ralph Tedesco
Pencils: Joe Dodd
Inks: Justin Holman
Colorist: Lisa Lubera
Designers: Jeffrey Ariola & Jason Sorrenti
Cover Artists: Al Rio (R.I.P.) and Tom Smith
Editor: J.C. Brusha
Exploring the connection between sex and violence, the adaption of Little Red Riding hood confronts that line. The werewolf displays the lust and animal nature of sexuality while Red symbolizes the innocence and purity of love. The hunter is the balance between them both, taking you back close to the original story of the brothers Grimm rather than the doused down version we know today, the true moral behind the story is displayed.
A young girl with doubts about losing her virginity to her pushy boyfriend reads a story about Little Red Riding Hood in a book she finds beside her bed. The story of the fairy tale character parallels her own, and the ending of the updated story teaches her a lesson, which feels all too real.
[Wing: I mean, Little Red Riding Hood has always had sexual threat built into the story, but this will be interesting. That cover, though. Not feeling it.]
Happy birthday, Wing! For the fairy tale theme this month I’m doing a recap featuring your favorite thing, WEREWOLVES! [Wing: I’m scheduling this to go up after my
[Wing: I’m scheduling this to go up after my birthday, because I was too busy around my birthday to comment, but I love this as a gift recap.]
Zenescope’s “Grimm Fairy Tales” is a prime example of a sleeper hit. Back in 2005 when I was in high school, I found the first issue buried within the small pile of independent comics at my store. Being a horror comic and with my interest in fairy tales, I was immediately intrigued. Imagine my surprise when, despite the sexy cover done by the late Al Rio, it was a story about a girl being pressured into having sex by her boyfriend…
And she said no.
I missed the next two issues but attempted to support the series regularly. Unfortunately there were a number of delays with the following issues and I wasn’t sure when they were coming out, but I quickly got into buying GFT on a monthly basis. It was starting to grow pretty big, and spin-offs were being launched such as “Return to Wonderland.” Suffice it to say, nearly 15 years later and Zenescope Comics is still going strong and has created an entire world through their GFT series.
The basic premise of the original issues followed Sela Mathers, a mysterious woman with a book of fairy tales. Sela would present herself to the “Main Character of the Week” and show them a fairy tale relating to their current dilemma. Interestingly, Sela did not appear in the first issue, only her book did. And in the second issue she was startlingly different from every issue onward. It wasn’t long afterwards Sela became the main character as her past was explored, followed by the introduction of her arch-enemy, the redheaded Belinda. At that point an entire myth arc was constructed and I began to lose track as the series moved away from its original, episodic nature.
Unfortunately, I haven’t supported GFT in years. My comic shop became rather erratic in ordering the current issues and I completely lost track of the series by the time the 100th issue came around. Since I hadn’t done anything with Zenescope for a long time, and I needed the space in my boxes, I ended up selling my entire collection on eBay. However, I held on to the first issue (and the 2nd print of the 2nd issue) for sentimental reasons.
That being said, Zenescope and Grimm Fairy Tales will always be important to me because of one reason. It was by supporting “Return to Wonderland” that I befriended colorist Nei Ruffino on DeviantArt shortly after graduating from high school in 2008. Nei is the closest friend I’ve ever had, and the first real friend I made after getting out of the hell that was grade school. She’s been a part of my life for ten years, longer than any friend I’ve known. If it wasn’t for her presence in my life I genuinely doubt I’d be alive right now.
Britney Waters is spending an evening at home, making out with her boyfriend Chad while her parents are out. But the moment Chad puts his hand on her thigh, Britney tells him to stop. He doesn’t listen and tries to open her shirt, at which point she grabs his hands and orders him to back off.
Chad, being a dipshit, gets pissed off because they’ve been dating for two months and he wants sex. He points out their friends Bill and Ammie have been going out three weeks and they’re having sex. Britney reminds Chad that Ammie’s slept with five guys before she dated Bill, but just because her friends have sex doesn’t mean Britney feels ready. Chad derides her by asking if she plans to be the last virgin in class, making Britney cry and slamming the door behind him as he tells her to let him know when she’s ready.
Running up to her room, tears streaming down her face, Britney wonders if she should start to loosen up. But she reminds herself how Chad’s been pushy since date one, and wonders if Chad only sees her as another conquest to brag about. He used to be really sweet before they began dating, indicating he’s another “Nice Guy.”
Trying to take her mind off Chad, Britney digs through a box of books for some light reading. She pulls out an old, leatherbound book with a gold symbol on the cover. Britney looks through the book and finds “Red Riding Hood…”
Once upon a time, there was a young woman named Red. One day, her mother asked Red to bring a basket of food to Red’s grandmother, who lived in the woods by herself. Putting on her red cloak, Red reminded her worried mom this isn’t the first time she’s traveled through the woods. Still, Red’s mom advised her to stay on the path and to avoid strangers.
Just as Red was about to enter the woods, her male friend Samuel approached her on his horse. Samuel mentions he hasn’t seen Red in days, to which Red adds he hasn’t bothered to visit her in days. He says something about tending to his father’s affairs and would like to see her again. Red proposes he can take her to the fair next week, which is when Samuel starts getting too intimate and kisses her neck.
Red asks Samuel to stop by alluding to a previous affair (most likely sex) they had which she is ashamed of. Samuel reasons, for a “Proper lady,” Red enjoyed what they did. Red sticks to her guns, saying it doesn’t matter if she enjoyed it; it was wrong because they’re not married. Samuel tries to make an excuse for why he hasn’t proposed to her yet, so Red continues on her trip to her grandmother. She departs saying Samuel can see her again when he asks her to the fair. Samuel… does not look happy.
Heading into the woods, Red chides herself for thinking Samuel would marry a girl of her social standing. The woods are dark, and after walking in silence for a while Red is startled by a noise she’s sure is the wind.
Red happens upon the home of her woodsman friend, Jacob. Jacob asks what Red is doing in the forest by herself, and warns her it might not be safe. Red is confident she can make the trip to her grandmother like she’s done before, but Jacob offers to escort her. He cites some wolf tracks he found earlier, but Red promises she’ll be home before nightfall. Respecting her wishes, Jacob at least gives Red a machete to protect herself in case of trouble. Red is thankful when Jacob bashfully asks if he could bring Red to the fair next week, though she replies Samuel already asked her. Jacob apologizes for bothering her, but gets a dark look on his face at the thought of Samuel.
Back on her trip, Red heads deeper into the woods armed with Jacob’s weapon. She stops to notice a butterfly on a nearby bush…
Until she sees the leaves are bloody, because nearby is a severed deer’s leg.
Red drops the basket of food and readies herself with the machete, looking up to see two wolves feasting on the rest of the deer carcass. Terrified, Red tries to run away from the wolves and, in her panic, trips and falls. Her face is cut, she’s lost her way, and the moon is starting to rise. The FULL moon.
Somewhere else in the woods stands a man hidden by shadow. Hidden in the darkness of the forest, the man’s body begins to morph and change into something decidedly… inhuman.
Further into the woods, Red’s grandmother is all alone in her house wondering where Red is. She hears a knock on the door and thinks it’s her granddaughter.
Red panics as she reaches her grandmother’s house because the front door is open. As Red gets closer and enters the building, she discovers a giant pool of blood right at the entrance. The blood makes a trail, as if something large was dragged across the floor. In the next room, all Red finds is a severed hand.
In her terror, Red didn’t hear Jacob approach her from behind. And she notices he’s holding an ax and there’s a bloodstain on his shirt. Jacob tells her they have to go before whatever killed her grandmother returns, but when Jacob grabs her arm Red stabs him with the machete and flees the room…
Right into the arms of the wolf.
The wolf slashes at Red’s dress, ripping her clothes up and throwing her to the floor. Red is sobbing as the wolf gets on top of her, ready to kill and devour her. If she’s lucky. But the wolf stops for just a moment, recognition lighting in its eyes. That hesitation is all Jacob needed to drive his ax into the wolf’s back.
Red is able to get away from the wolf as Jacob collapses by her side, alive by bleeding to death. Crying, Red watches as the wolf transforms back into Samuel. Before he dies, Samuel says he couldn’t control himself because of how much he wanted Red and apologizes.
All that Red’s left with is her dead grandmother, her dead boyfriend who wanted to rape and/or kill her, and a friend who’s pretty much dying in her lap.
Britney wakes up from her fairy tale induced nightmare. Standing up, she figures this is the wakeup call she needed to dump Chad’s ass once and for all. Wondering what happened to the fairy tale book, Britney is shocked when she looks in her mirror and sees a cut on her cheek. Behind her, there are leaves in her bed.
Wow, so despite the objectifying cover we got a version of “Red Riding Hood” that was a slightly heavy handed story about how “No Means No.” Of course you can’t really make that message heavy handed considering how often people STILL refuse to understand “No” means “NO.”
Britney would return in the spin-off series “Myths and Legends” as the focus character of the first arc, which showed her now working as a counselor at a center for teenagers.
It still amazes me at how far Zenescope came from this first issue, given how simplistic the comic was in terms of formatting compared to all the ads and shit that come with the recent books.
Sorry this wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, but happy birthday Wing.
[Wing: Wow, this was not at all what I expected! I really like it, too, though that ending of the story-within-the-story is quite a downer. Red survives, yes, but no one else (barring her mother), and people she cares about die around her and/or in front of her. Interesting (if heavy-handed) use of the animalistic werewolf as a metaphor for the way society cuts straight white guys a break for demanding sex. Boys will be boys. It’s natural for them. It’s instinct. Etc.]