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Fairy Tale Lust: Mother Goose Was A Naughty Bird, Part 2

Fairy Tale Lust: Mother Goose Was A Naughty Bird, Part 2 J. Scott Campbell
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  Who You Calling Princess?

It’s an idea that’s not at all lost on Ralph Tedesco, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Zenescope Entertainment, which produces the successful “Grimm’s Fairy Tale” comic book series, though he describes the content between its racy covers as decidedly PG-13.

GFT’s heroine is the comely Sela Mathers. A velvet ribbon tying the stories together, Sela is smart (clearly indicated by the glasses she wears with whatever bustier, negligee or saucy wench costume she is packed into) and has the ability to counsel characters in crisis via an enchanted book, pulling them into a fairy-tale world. “As the story unfolds, it shows them how their dilemma relates to that particular tale,” says Tedesco, who writes much of the series. “Many demonstrate how the character within doesn’t make the right decisions and faces some horrifying consequences.”

The stories tackle some heavy issues. The “Cinderella” story dealt with bullying. “Red Riding Hood” is a young girl whose boyfriend is pressuring her to have sex. “Hansel & Gretel” were potential runaways, while Jack, of beanstalk fame, is a drug dealer.

It might be a stretch to call the series a slick, beautifully illustrated new take on the ’70s-era after-school special, but Tedesco notes that they have a significant female following for a product whose marketing segment is primarily males 18 to 34. “It’s a growing fan base,” he says. “I see it in the women who come to the conventions, who like our Facebook page, who write in.”

He cites a storyline from their “Beauty & the Beast” comic in which a young woman in an abusive relationship overcomes her situation. “Many of our stories are, if unintentionally, female empowerment stories.”

The Zenescope team sees the value in knowing its roots. Readers familiar with earlier adaptations of the classics will notice nods to the bloodline. “In one of the older versions of Cinderella, the stepsisters have their eyes pecked by crows,” Tedesco notes. “We retain that in ours, a small homage.”

  And This Bed is Just Right

As a longtime horror buff, I roll my eyes at all the graphs and charts saying I don’t belong in the demographic. Author Kristina Wright falls under a similar heading. “When I was growing up,” she says, “I was the only girl I knew who read comic books.” She preferred the darker storylines: the Dark Knight, vampires, stories that blurred the lines of good and evil.

“Although the romantic-relationship elements of fairy tales often overshadow the quest aspects while comic books tend to slant the opposite way, as a woman I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that [comics] are for men … I think a good story is going to appeal to an interested reader regardless of gender.”

Or orientation. Mitzi Szereto’s In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed has found many a fan in the gay community and she is delighted to have them. “I never think in terms of gender when I write,” says the woman who’s “The Turnip” – the tale of a modest farmer who finds both blessing and curse in the elephantine root vegetable growing from his groin – brought down the house during a reading at a London literary event at the Royal Festival Hall.

Szereto suspects comic books have been a format giving male readers “permission” to read fairy stories. “Many potential male readers might be put off by the whole fairy tale idea,” she says, noting that the product marketing tends to target women. “I think that’s unfortunate… I’m very proud of the fact that the title has been well received by a diverse readership.”

“eHarmony’s always going to have its place,” observes James. “And I still overhear more female students discussing ‘relationships’ while the boys talk about ‘hooking up,’ but speaking from a male’s perspective, a lot of that comes down to young men posturing for one another, anyway. Women might enjoy imagining themselves in the role of helpless princess in need of a savior, but I think that might be as much a fantasy as placing yourself in a Tolkien-style battle with a shield and a sword so massive no one outside a comic book could lift it.”

  Happily Ever After?

For those who revel in sexualized fairy tales, there’s a plethora of material rife with lovely, lusty lasses who could give any of the fandom universe’s favorite sex symbols – “Avatar’s” Neytiri, “Star Trek’s” Seven-of-Nine, Lucy Lawless’s Xena – quite a run for the daydreams of their many admirers. Plus, they put out. But, ultimately, Mother Goose and her brethren are safe and familiar. And so erotica, deftly dissolved into a fairy-tale format might be Baby Bear’s porridge – making things just right for those less likely to indulge in the pleasure of carnal reading to take the plunge.

“It’s the form of literature most of us were weaned on, regardless of where we’re from,” says Szereto. “This alone gives it special appeal. There’s a comfort in the familiar, a sense that it’s okay to pursue it.” On a more simplistic level, she theorizes, it’s simply fun. “And who doesn’t enjoy a bit of fun now and again?”

Whether your handsome prince is straight out of Disney, with a coach and a palace and the promise of marriage, or a leather-bound slave satyr who loves the sting of the whip – or perhaps a creature who’s the former by day and the latter by night – there’s no boundaries in the realm of the faerie.
After all, the phrase “happy ending” has more than one definition.

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