John Batten, 1915
During the reign of Louis XIV, it was the vogue for educated noblewomen, and some men, to gather and spin fairy tales together. The conte de fées told in these salons laid the foundation of the literary fairy tale, a very different creature than the earlier folk narratives from which they sprang.
The story of Beauty and The Beast first appeared under this name in 1740, and was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot Gallon de Villeneuve, a French noblewoman. Villeneuve based her lengthy narrative on a number of other fairy tales and myths, reaching all the way back ancient Greece, and likely much earlier.
The version most people are familiar with today is actually based on a much shorter retelling, published by governess Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, in Le Magasin des Enfants in 1757. Beaumont was one of the first authors to aim her fairy tales at children.
Beauty and The Beast has enjoyed great popularity throughout its life, consistantly ranking among the most well known fairy tales. It has been adapted to film, most notably by Jean Cocteau, in 1946, and by the Walt Disney Company in 1991. Numerous stage adaptations, including ballet and opera, have been born, and many authors have drawn on its themes, both explicitly (Robin McKinley's Beauty) and implicilty (Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre).
The power of the tale comes from its evolving meaning. what was born as a story discussing arranged marriage has mutated and grown with each retelling, finding relevance in many social climates. It continues ot change and rearrange itself today. Just as the women of Louis XIV's court spoke of their own lives through fairy tales, this comic is one woman's exploration of what Beauty and The Beast means to her.
Once upon a time there was a girl who was born into the strangest family. Her father came from a line of sailors and historians. Her mother was the youngest child of a great matriarchy, all teachers and farmers and craftswomen. The family moved a great deal, and so the girl was a perpetual newcomer. She learned to hide from the trials of the world inside of books, which she could take with her where ever she went…
Raised with a healthy love of books and storytelling, and an unhealthy love of comics and cartoons, Megan's twin passions led her to earn her BA in visual arts, with an English minor, from the University of Windsor (during which time she also self-published her first comic) and then to Sheridan College, where she earned her BAA Honours in Animation, and produced her fairy-tale inspired short film, Once Upon a Winter Wood.
Megan has been fascinated with the story of Beauty and The Beast since she was a teenager, living in at the edge of the forest in a small town, surrounded by rosebushes. She currently resides in the equally enchanting Toronto, with her husband and at least one rabbit.
Megan can be contacted via e-mail at
or by old-fashioned mail atBeauty and The Beast c/o Comic Book Embassy 392 Spadina Avenue, Second Floor Toronto, ON M5T 2G5
How often do you update?
Beauty and The Beast updates twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays. The tumblr updates every day.
Have you studied animation?
Yes! In fact, I have a Bachelor of Applied Arts with Honours in Animation, from Sheridan College. Despite this, I consider myself primarily a storyteller, not an animator, as I lack the elegance to really excel in it.
What is your process in creating your comic?
BATB is a big leap for me, as my first truly long-form work. I start from my script and rough out thumbnails in chunks of about 12 pages at a time. When I'm happy with my thumbnails, I draw a rough full size version in blue using an 11x25 photoshop canvas, making sure to leave space for the dialogue. I focus on the characters and the posing at this stage and don't get too tight. Afterwards I go in and resolve the sets, then create a new layer and digitally "ink" everything in black. The heavy shadows are the last part I do…. Sometimes its hard to watch the background vanish under all the shadow!
What's your favourite version of BATB?
There are a few out there that I really love! My favourite book versions are absolutely McKinley's novels "Beauty" and "Rose Daughter". Both have wonderfully full characters and I love the tone of them. I can only dream of capturing some of what they do! My favourite film version is "Panna A Netvor" (The Virgin and The Monster), a 1978 horror-themed Czech film by Juraj Herz. It has some amazing characterization and costuming.
What other fairy tales do you like?
As a kid, I liked "East of The Sun, West of The Moon", because it seemed much more detailed and drawn out than most fairy tales I knew. I loved the image of a girl on a Polar Bear's back, crossing the tundra under the northern lights. I also find salon tales like "The Subtle Princess" hilarious for their bluntness.
The Beast doesnt look very scary. Is he a lion?
While I was workshopping this comic, I got a lot of critcism for The Beast's design looking too "soft". I did make a number of changes based on that feedback, but ultimately I felt that a "soft" design that I could reproduce and that could carry the emotions needed to tell the story was better than one that was more initially jarring but couldn't do the acting longterm. He's mostly a mashup of lion and, oddly enough, Irish Setter. Dogs are very emotive, so I thought that would help make him read (and our studio labradoodle, Jai, is always happy to give me some soulful eyes!). Besides, there's no competing with what Disney did, so it's a lost cause from the start!
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