There’s More to the Story in This Un-Disneyized Version of “Beauty and the Beast”
We’re all familiar with the popular “tale as old as time.” A beautiful young woman is held captive in an enchanted castle by a beast who is actually a prince under a curse. Beauty and the Beast has been retold and adapted for centuries, but not many people know its origins. Its genesis was as a novel by 18th century author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot Gallon de Villeneuve, who combined several fairytales into a sweeping and detailed narrative. The version that American audiences are most familiar with is the heavily edited version aimed towards children as told by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1757.
Megan Kearney is a storyteller and cartoonist who is taking this enchanting tale and bringing it back to its roots. Her own beautifully gothic and bewitching version of Beauty and the Beast utilizes Velleneuve’s narrative while also providing a personal touch that heightens both the humanity and emotion of the story and its characters.
Kearney’s comic is excellently paced, and just suspenseful and enigmatic enough to keep readers coming back for more. Best of all it is unfailingly original. Her Beauty is not a rehashing of previous heroines, and her Beast could not be further from the ever-popular Disney iteration. The fantasy is kept grounded by a firm sense of historical period, and yet with each passing chapter it’s clear that there are unknown forces at play, and more than one fairytale at work in this narrative.
Perhaps what I enjoy the most about this story is that it treats these fantasy archetypes as flawed and multi-dimensional beings. Beauty’s sisters are not (as popular retelling suggests) cruel or selfish; the manor in which the Beast lives is as much a living presence as the Beast himself; and our main couple is given time and interaction to better facilitate their own personal growth, as well as their burgeoning relationship that has captivated us since childhood.
Megan Kearney’s Beauty and the Beast updates Tuesdays and Fridays.