Little Red Riding Hood brushes claws with Beauty & The Beast in this macabre send up of fairy tale classics. In the dark yet humorous webcomic No Rest For The Wicked, there are no heroes.
The story, which Peterson started in 2003, revolves around Princess November, who brushes off an old woman in the woods and receives a curse for her trouble.
Almost driven mad from a lack of sleep, November flees from home (and a pending engagement to a strange boy) in search of the moon. On her travels, she meets Perrault (also known as Puss or Puss-in-Boots), as well as a hooded companion named Little Red.
While many people remember the tale of a sweet Little Red Riding Hood (or Little Red Cap), Little Red in Peterson's world is a bit different than imagined.
Reborn as a bad-ass with a dark past, Peterson's Little Red is haunted by her grandmother's death...and perhaps still coping with her own.
Red is a stoic character, preferring to fight, rather than speak, but seems to take great pleasure in scaring people:
Along their travels, November, Little Red, and Perrault run into a variety of story characters. They have a fun encounter with the Beast:
And a harrowing encounter with the cannibalistic witch from Hansel & Gretel:
The three also stumble across a fourth companion, a woman accused of witchcraft with a unique feature:
In this case, the townsfolk are correct about one thing:
However, this does not dissuade our heroine.
Where Peterson's story shines is her knowledge of the darker side of fairy tales. On her Extras page, Peterson includes links to lesser known stories like Bearskin (in which a man makes a deal with the devil to wear a bearskin and stop bathing for seven years), The Girl Without Hands (where a girl's parent's sell her to the devil in exchange for worldly riches), and The Buried Moon (in which the moon is captured and buried by monsters). It can be addictive diving into each of these stories and their references to theology, good and evil, and human darkness. (As a special extra, the SurLaLune site also provides a feminist perspective on many fairy tales and decodes some of the symbolism.)
The comic is ongoing, but as Peterson warns on the site, sporadically updated. Still, the archives are well worth a read.
(All Images from No Rest for the Wicked)