New in the Birdcage Bottom Books shop:

Paul Hoppe’s “Tales To Behold #5”

Created under THE BEHOLDER persona, this fifth issue of the gonzo-superheroes series continues the mis-adventures of a very odd and random super-team that includes a living skeleton, a griffin, and an immortal knight. This volume marks the beginning of Season 2 of the BEHOLDER comics.

Our heroes are recovering from the earth-shattering developments that happened in the last couple books. But they don’t have much time for a breather, as their precious off-time gets rudely interrupted by some drug dealers with strange powers. And upon their return to the Big Apple, they get attacked by – their own shadows!

5.25″ x 8.25″, 40 pages. $7
2-color Risograph wraparound cover with b&w interior on cream paper 

- See more at: http://www.birdcagebottombooks.com/shop/tales-to-behold-5/#sthash.i2F2Utds.dpuf

Webcomix United!

These are characters from some of the far out comics that can be found online. They are from the following webcomics (some are for mature audiences):

On the very top: Emea and Wakatonka from Spun-Off

From left to right:

Cassandra from Iothera

Alya from Alya The Last Child of Light

Paula and Ann from F.U. Point M.O.D.I.C.

Jenny Everywhere from my own Tales To Behold and many others

Lucidus from Alya The Last Child of Light

Abúi from Abúi’s Travels

Kaza and Gwenna from Kaza’s Mate Gwenna

All characters belong to their respective creators of course.

Except Jenny Everywhere, she belongs to everybody!


New in the Birdcage Bottom Books shop:

Paul Hoppe’s “Tales To Behold #4”

Created under THE BEHOLDER persona, this fourth issue of the gonzo-superheroes series continues the not always serious adventures of a very odd and random super-team that includes a living skeleton, a griffin, and the internet character Jenny Everywhere. In this thick volume, earth’s mightiest woman joins their ranks. And they have to go up against a whole team of powerful villains while being betrayed by one of their own. Plus other short comics and answers to questions and loose ends from the last eight (!) Journey Into Misery and Tales To Behold issues. Season 1 of the BEHOLDER comics ends with a bang!

5.25″ x 8″, 52 pages. $6
B&w cover on colored paper with handmade block print elements with b&w interior on cream paper 

- See more at: http://www.birdcagebottombooks.com/shop/tales-to-behold-4/#sthash.jyermg4q.dpuf

Sleeping Beauty meta: Merryweather and Maleficent

I rewatched Disney’s Sleeping Beauty yesterday for like the first time since I was a kid, and I was, for one thing, surprised by how much characterisation the non-main characters get - arguably more than the two “leads”, Aurora and Phillip. The movie is worth rewatching just to appreciate the fairies, including Maleficent. Specifically, there are two characters I want to appreciate here.

Part A: Maleficent: Yeah, she’s wonderfully written, nothing new there. But what I had never been able to appreciate as a kid is just how full of personality she is and how fantastically written her evil scheme is.

Maleficent: Oh come now Prince Phillip. Why so melancholy? A wondrous future lies before you - you, the destined hero of a charming fairy tale come true. Behold - King Stefan’s castle. And in yonder topmost tower, dreaming of her true love, the Princess Aurora. But see the gracious whim of fate - why, ‘tis the self-same peasant maid, who won the heart of our noble prince but yesterday. She is indeed, most wondrous fair. Gold of sunshine in her hair, lips that shame the red red rose. In ageless sleep, she finds repose. The years roll by, but a hundred years to a steadfast heart, are but a day. And now, the gates of a dungeon part, and our prince is free to go his way. Off he rides, on his noble steed, a valiant figure, straight and tall! To wake his love, with love’s first kiss. And prove that “true love” conquers all!

This scheme - letting Phillip go when he’s an old man, Aurora and the kingdom waking up only for her love to die shortly thereafter, is, without question, exceptionally cruel, and yet it this is not just “for the evululz” that you see in so many stories. This is an evil scheme of truly immaculately evil design, designed not merely to bring someone personal misery but to laugh in the face of fate and the very laws of magic which “true love conquers all” can be easily considered, since it’s something the “good” fairies deliberately invoke to save Aurora).

Maleficent is not simply taking her justified (in her eyes) revenge and punishing humans for the slight made against her, the offense of not being invited to a major event in the kingdom. She is using the opportunity as the ultimate power show, to demonstrate how she can twist even the laws of fairytale magic to her whims and render them meaningless, and in so doing establish herself as the ultimate mistress of all evil. It is breathtaking because, in one short taunting speech, there is so much complicated history we can infer from it, so much more depth that her character gains.

Part B: Merryweather: You remember Merryweather. Blue fairy, gets shafted the less interesting tasks like cleaning while others make cakes and dresses and create crowns. Seems a bit sharper than the others, often pointing out flaws in ideas before others spot them. Got a bit of a temper on her and tries to bullrush someone who’s making her angry like a tiny blue bulldog on more than one occasion. Altogether, harmless enough. Right?


First off, I want to take a moment to point out a conversation early in the movie (precisely one of those parts I didn’t pay attention to as a kid):

Flora: I’ll turn her into a flower.

Merryweather: Maleficent?

Flora: [chuckles] No, no, dear. The princess.

Fauna: Oh, she’d make a lovely flower.

Flora: Don’t you see? A flower can’t prick its finger.

Merryweather: It hasn’t any.

Fauna: That’s right.

Flora: She’ll be perfectly safe.

Merryweather: Until Maleficent sends a frost.

Flora: [laughs, then stops abruptly] Yes… oh dear.

Fauna: She always ruins your nicest flowers.

I think this goes to show just how curiously inhuman they are. They think nothing of turning a sentient being into a plant to “save” her, although it reads more as just wanting to find a way to somehow thwart Maleficent, the well being of the humans in play here being secondary. It’s like a power play between them (well, I say 'almost’. Really, the line about maleficent ruining Flora’s flowers shows that power plays ranging from prank wars to major conflicts are a consistent thing between them.). They only discard the idea until Merryweather points out Maleficent would have other ways of ruining a flower.

This show of… inhumanity, or lapse of human-like morality is curious, given that just earlier in the conversation..

Merryweather: I’d like to turn her into a fat ol’ - hop toad.

Fauna: Now, dear, that isn’t a very nice thing to say.

Flora: Besides, we can’t. You know our magic doesn’t work that way.

Fauna: It can only do good, dear, to bring joy and happiness.

Merryweather: Well, *that* would make *me* happy.

It’s almost like they do not, in fact, have an ingrained sense of morality similar to a human’s and their morality system is entirely different. They’re the self-proclaimed “good fairies” because they try to limit themselves to doing things that humans find good, because otherwise, what difference is there between them and Maleficent?

This is also another example of Merryweather being just a little too trigger-happy, just a little too dark for what a “good fairy” is supposed to be Fortunately, nothing ever comes of that, and nothing sinister happens to show she might be-

External image

Oh. Uh. Nevermind, then.

Turning Maleficent’s pet crow to stone (and irreversibly, too, because if Maleficent had been able to turn him back, she sure as hell would have) rather than less fatal means of containing him seems a tad… extreme, doesn’t it? It’s certainly not the sort of thing that brought anyone joy and happiness unless you count satisfying Merryweather’s vindictive side. Clearly that “our magic doesn’t work that way” is less “doesn’t” and more “shouldn’t”, pointing to a divide between them and “evil” fairies that is entirely constructed and self-imposed.

And that’s about it for this ramble. Potential things to take away:

1. This has been a short compilation of hints in the story that depict fairies as an Other with Blue and Orange Morality, inhuman at their core (though it’s possible and even likely that the sixteen years spent raising Aurora without magic influenced them, certainly they seem to  have a lot more empathy for the emotional state of Aurora’s parents and Aurora herself by the end of it). I think it’s pretty interesting because the fairies seem like archtypical helpful magical entities on the surface, but show far more depth and complexity than, say, the fairy from Pinocchio or the fairy godmother from Cinderella.

2. Now I really want a sequel in which Merryweather has gone dark and is growing into the new Mistress of Evil, fuelled by feeling like she can do no wrong and her wanting to change things is justified, as well as by the little petty mistreatment she’s put up with from the other two “good” fairies.

(And THEN she’ll be able to turn EVERYTHING blue. >:{D )

That is all.


New in the Birdcage Bottom Books shop:

Paul Hoppe’s “Tales To Behold #2”

Created under THE BEHOLDER persona, this spin-off series picks up steam with a double-feature issue that also contains various bonus stories to expand the BEHOLDER universe.
In the first story, Captain Evening and his new collaborator Jenny Everywhere encounter Merv The Griffin, a Demon of Vengeance. In the second story, Captain Evening’s odd super-team enlists another compatriot, Armstrong Fatbuckle a.k.a. the Worst Man in the World. Also, he’s a living skeleton. Featuring the first appearances of of Dr Brain’s daughter Jesse, the awesome Centennia, the evil Nefario, a sausage golem and Evil Cloak.

6″ x 9″, 32 pages. $5
Full-color cover with b&w interior