The Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm) were German academics who published folk tales and fairy tales in the early 1800s. Essentially, they are the reason popular stories such as "Cinderella," "Hansel and Gretel," "Sleeping Beauty," and "Snow White" are known today, but their versions were decidedly different, often violent and gruesome.
The latest edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, published by IDW, has been brought into the 21st century with contemporary illustrations by Eisner Award-nominated artist Kevin Colden. Even though the illustrations are sparse when compared to other graphic novels, Colden's brooding artwork, featured at the beginning of each tale, is effective in making characters look more psychotic than the Grimm brother's words ever could.
Grimm's Fairy Tales features a number of tales most children and adults have likely never read or heard of, though they'll see similarities in some of today's most popular animated movies. The more recognizable tales in the book, like "Rapunzel," "Hansel and Gretel," and "Little Red-Cap" (Little Red Riding Hood) will only be recognizable by name, as they differ drastically from the stories we grew up with.
In "Little Red-Cap," for example, the little girl meets a kind wolf on her way to deliver cake and wine to her ill grandmother. The wolf, after obtaining directions to Little Red-Cap's grandma's house, suggests she pick wild flowers in the forest for her grandmother. Going against her mother's instructions, the little girl ventures deep in the woods picking flowers as the wolf rushes to her grandmother's house and "devours" the old woman. When Little Red-Cap finally arrives at her grandmother's house, she gets "swallowed" whole.
In an unexpected and gruesome twist, a huntsman spots the wolf snoring in the grandmother's bed with a full belly. He wants to shoot the wolf, but decides to slit his belly open instead and out pops a frightened Little Red-Cap and her grandma. Once over the shock of being eaten and allowed to live again, the little girl stuffs stones in the wolf's belly, sews him back up, and when he wakes and can't run away because of the weight of his stomach, he dies on the spot. The tale ends with Little Red-Cap encountering another wolf on her way home, but this time she has learned her lesson and ignores him. He follows her home and hides out waiting for her, but the little girl, known for her kindness and good looks, cleverly drowns the wolf in a trough of boiling water.
Admittedly, the stories featured in Grimm's Fairy Tales are much more interesting and compelling than the average fairy tales geared toward kids today. Though they may be inappropriate for children, there's no denying they're more true to life than anything Disney's churning out these days.
-- Tina Vasquez