Notes: Unicorns Walk Among Us

This story started as a series of illustrations that I first started painting in 2007.  As for the story that only has been recently posted, it was drafted in 2011 during a long coffee filled afternoon.  Although the story ties to the images fairly well, due to the format I have chosen for the story, the role of some characters in the overall story was changed.

In that first image, “To Catch a Unicorn,” I recall clearly wanting to insert the hunter into the image, poised ready to destroy the otherwise pretty image of a little (likely female) unicorn coming upon a virginal maiden.  I also recall feeling quite bad about that idea, and left him off camera xD.   The notes for the image (on Deviantart) actually are quite funny, as I do recall I was in a period of creation where I kept wanting to mess around with various fairy-tale tropes in a slightly pretty, slightly wicked way.  (Tales of the Big Bad Wolf originates from this similar timeframe.)

“Do Not Be Afraid,” was another attempt to play around with Painter and the characters.   While I painted it, however, I had envisioned a slightly different take to the story.  In this version, the girl’s memories would have returned while in jail, and she would find a way to contrive to break free to protect the child.    At this point, too, the child was genderless.

And finally, in “Unicorns Walk Among Us” I had come to the point that I wanted to create something emblematic of a “novel” cover or short story cover. This started as a bit of a pencil sketch during a period where I was looking at a lot of art nouveau work a la Tiffany and Mucha.  While painting this, I knew I wanted a mysterious catchphrase to add to the image, one that reminded me of the iconic “Frodo lives” — a phrase that symbolized hope and victory (to Tolkien nerds everywhere). 

In writing the story as a short work, I had to diminish some planned plot complications.  Had this been a novella, the main character Lily would have been more actively involved in her own self-discovery and in the liberation of the child.  And the Swan Queen would not have appeared at all in person.  But following the title, I decided to not make this story about self-liberation (from the point of the unicorns) but about restoration and forgiveness.   Those themes are ones I felt would work well for all the principle characters in this particular story.

One of the unplanned instances was actually the inclusion of the Swan Queen as a “fairy godmother”/”liberator” type.   I’m actually quite pleased to include her and give folks a glimpse of her power and a hint at her burdens.  I think regular readers of “Tales of the Big Bad Wolf” will come to appreciate this look at this character, for in time she will play a huge role in the  lives of Elanore, Edmund and Maximilian, our dear Wolf.


Notes: Unicorns Walk Among Us — 6 Comments

  1. I was really pleased to see the Swan Queen. I got the strong impression in the story that she watches over and protects (to an extent) those beings that we’d consider unnatural in our modern day world (unicorns, etc).

    I was pleased that you had a balance between the sense of justice and the sense of forgiveness. It’s a quality that should be seen more often in characters such as her.

    • You’re right in that regard, but it’s a small piece of her larger role in the world. I have in mind that she is one of the strongest females in this world, although in the fairy tale sense, she also has her own story that needs to be played out. She, too, is a bit unnatural. While there are plenty of “ordinary” people in this world setting, she is a definite anomaly.

      • I got that impression. She certainly seems to be immortal, for lack of a better word. As in she lives a LONG time.

        • Yes, you are correct on that. The timeframe for this story versus the current Tales shows that she has indeed been alive for quite a long time 😀

  2. I love that we got to see the swan queen and her brothers. Especially since I have always loved their story. I had a vhs when I was little that had the Swan Queen, Spirit in a Bottle, Little Red Riding Hood, and one other fairy tale that I can’t remember on it. I watched that thing and I would usually fast forward to the Swan Queen and Spirit in a Bottle because I loved seeing the non standard fairy tales. I have unfortunately lost the tape. T_T I am glad that you utilize the story so much. It is nice to find people who know it since most of my friends have never heard of it and even my parents couldn’t remember me having this vhs.

    • Wow – I didn’t know someone had animated that. I’d love to see someone actually pick up these projects and flesh them out as high-quality releases for families. On a random note, since you’re a fairy tale enthusiast, oneo f the animation studios in Japan ran Snow Queen (not Swan Queen) last year or the year before . YOu might be able to still find the subtitled versions online… it was a pretty faithful (and sometimes slow) rendition …