I love re-imaginings. I live in a time when it seams like all the stories that could be told have been, and even though I don’t believe that to be true, I still enjoy the fruits of such mindsets. Its easy to go online and find the original stories that sparked imaginations centuries ago, but not everyone has that kind of time. For many it is easier to just absorb the bare minimum of those stories and move on to the next shiny thing that gets our attention. I’m guilty of it plenty of times, as I kid I liked the harrowing tales of King Arthur, but never actually read the stories. This puts myself and many others in a unique situation of knowing just enough about a story for it to catch our attention, but leave us ignorant enough about the source material to surprise us. I distinctly remember growing up with a show on YTV in which Sherlock Holmes great great granddaughter goes around solving mysteries parallel to his old cases.
It’s for that reason that a story like The Wolf Among Us caught my attention. It began as a series of comic-books that re-imagined famous fairy tale characters as being real and struggling to move on with their lives after being forgotten by the world. An episodic video game came out focused in Fable-town…in the Bronx.
That’s right, you cant get much grittier than setting it in the Bronx. You follow the life of the Fabletown’s sheriff, Bigby Wolf. The same big bad wolf who huffed and puffed, and blew them all down. Now he smokes Huff-n-Puff cigarettes as he solves a mystery, and tries to make things right with fables who hate his guts.
This gritty crime noir with a taste of whimsy re-imagined countless fairy tales from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to the Three Little Pigs. Having only a shallow understanding of these stories allows the player\reader to be surprised by obscure details of the original tale, if they are used, or be more accepting when liberties are taken with the source material. Its the feeling of something that once felt familiar becoming fresh and unexplored, or the stark realization that I truly didn’t know the story to begin with that draws me deeper in.
There have been so many times in my life when I come across a re-imagined story that I enjoyed. I am starting to think that there might be some ingrained rules or structure in how all this comes about. Whole books could be written about examining how stories get re-jiggered by writers. It might not be what story you retell, but how you make it your own that truly matters. Take Fate\Stay Night for example, this Japaneses visual novel borrows heavily from European mythology and adds new twists to them, such as King Arthur, who they made a girl in disguise.
It makes me wonder how deep the rabbit hole goes, and that these re-imaginings might be re-imaginings of re-imaginings. Or how crazy this cycle might get in the future. We already live in an age where anyone can type up fiction and upload it sans-publishers. Even if those stories aren’t viewed as on the same level as traditionally published material, they will have their own fan-bases and get re-imagined by them.