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Comic Book / Nightmares & Fairy Tales

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Nightmares & Fairy Tales is an American comic book series written by Serena Valentino and published by Slave Labor Graphics. It has been illustrated by Foo Swee Chin, Crab Scrambly and Camilla d'Errico. Nightmares and Fairy Tales chronicles the life and adventures of Annabelle, a rag doll and the various women who have owned her throughout time. Eventually she is passed on to Gwen, a young girl who serves as the audience for her stories until the end of the series.

Twenty-three tradeback issues were collected in four graphic novels. They are:

Once Upon a Time

Beautiful Beasts

1140 Rue Royale

Dancing with the Ghosts of Whales


  • Abusive Parents: Gwen's parents physically and verbally abuse her. As did Cinderella's step-mother and Belle's father. Luna's mother tried to kill her.
  • All for Nothing: In Cinderella's story, Verona tried making a pact with a demon in order to ensure she got what she wanted in her step-daughters getting the hand of the prince. However her pact ends with the demon botching her request to make Cinderella ugly and her daughters beautiful, one was offered up to him, and not only does her second daughter have parts of her feet chopped off, but also arrested. And when Verona tries to reveal that it was Cindrella that was the girl with the glass slipper, she gets arrested for lying in the first place. In short, the Deal with the Devil ended up with her losing everything while Cindrella lives happily ever after.
  • Animal Motif: Gwen and the Magic Tree associates Gwen with rabbits. She meets up with a friend named "Bunny" and showing affection to a rabbit is what makes Oberon gift her a magic acorn and affectionately calling her "Gwen of the Bunnies".
  • Ax-Crazy: Luna's mother when she kills her transformed werewolf mother and then tries to kill Luna herself.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: Snow and eventually the Queen.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Said explicitly about Snow. Although it's more that a good heart in general makes a person beautiful. The stepmother becomes beautiful when she puts Snow's heart in her chest, but she's just as evil as ever.
  • Beauty to Beast: In "Beauty and the Beast," Rose, who is cursed by a witch so she can't be with Belle.
  • Bedlam House: Morgan and Catherine are eventually sent there. Neither of them deserve it.
  • Buried Alive: Madame Dephine Lalaurie aka Victoria. Although she wasn't really alive when she was buried. The ghosts of her victims wake her up after.
  • Catchphrase: Paige's is "What a scream!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Gwen and the Magic Tree, Oberon gifts Gwen a magic acorn which she tucked behind her ear. Later, after going to Bunny's house — which was the old haunted house she onced lived in before — and learing that Bunny is really a mish-mash of spirits, she falls down and the acorn falls out and into a hole. The acorn grow into a tree that destroys Bunny and frees all the spirits.
  • Cool Old Lady: Beatrice. She has a garden full of all sorts of fun things, drives Gwen to school when Gwen's Abusive Parents won't (and fixes her a lunch as well!), uses magic to pray for Gwen's protection, and then adopts her after Gwen's parents are killed. She also doesn't bat an eye when Gwen talks about seeing a ghost and is on board with trying to save Beauty.
  • Creepy Doll: Annabelle laments being this.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Beauty. Augustine's a Cute Ghost GUY.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • The monster living in Gwen's house. Also, Annabelle.
    • Almost all of the ghosts in 1140 Rue Royale are twisted and deformed and tend to possess Rebecca. They all were the victims off Madame Lalaurie and only want justice so they can move on.
  • Dead All Along: Augustine and Beauty. Beauty didn't know it. Poor Augustine did.
  • Deal with the Devil: Verona. It ends badly. Very badly.
  • Death of a Child: Betty is drowned by the ghost of her mother. We then see her corpse washed up on shore the next day.]]
  • Death by Childbirth: Lucas. Yup, a MAN. Also, Dominique's pregnant friend.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Gwen and the Magic Tree can either be seen as Gwen encountering Oberon — who looks like a tree — or the magic tree that grows from the acorn he granted her which saves her life.
  • Downer Ending: Morgan's story, Dominique's story and Catherine's story.
  • Driven to Suicide: Beauty. She is rescued by her caretaker but she doesn't live much longer afterward.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Paige BSODs after founding out Augustine is dead and accidentally runs out into traffic.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • Gwen's stories, Snow's story, Cinderella's story and Mea's story.
    • Arguably Annabelle as well, since Gwen is the first girl who can actually hear her.
  • Eldritch Abomination: There's one in Snow White, Cinderella, the nunnery and arguably, Gwen's house.
  • Exact Words: Cinderella's stepmother wishes for the demon to make Cinderella ugly and her own daughters the demon grants making Cinderella ugly by demon standards (gorgeous) and the step-daughters beautiful (monstrous) by his perspective.
  • Fairy Godmother: Annabelle does this for Cinderella.
  • Fish People: The mermaid's family, excluding the other mermaids.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: Gwen and the Magic Tree has Gwen falling asleep before approaching a white rabbit that leads her to subsequently meeting up with Oberon.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Notably:
    • Snow White: The evil queen literally rips Snow White's heart out of her body and puts it in her own chest to steal Snow's beauty, leaving poor Snow White as a disoriented zombie.
    • Cinderella: Verona uses a Deal with the Devil to try to get one of her daughters married to the prince and the prince turns out to be an evil sadist.
    • Little Red Riding Hood: Luna and the man she falls in love with are werewolves.
    • Beauty and the Beast: Belle is a lesbian who is locked up and tortured by her religious father. The Beast is revealed to be her lover, cursed by a witch until Belle's love saves her.
    • Sleeping Beauty: Beauty is a strangely spirit-girl who befriends Gwen in San Francisco. She tried to commit suicide years ago, was put in an enchanted sleep by her caretaker to save her, and her body had died of old age by the time Gwen and Beatrice find it.
    • The Little Mermaid: The mermaid was kidnapped and put in a circus freak show by the man she met. He had raped her when he first abducted her and he ended up getting impregnated with their children.
  • Genki Girl: Beauty. She's very friendly and energetic, always flying around and interested in experiencing new things. Upon finding out that her body is dead, she decides to go visit the moon and stars.
  • Ghost Amnesia: Beauty's been dead for years and only really figures it out after Gwen and Bea show up. Interestingly, she was well aware that she was a spirit of some kind and that her actual body was lying in a tower elsewhere. She just was under the impression that she was in an enchanted sleep of some sort, not that it'd gone on for so long that she'd died of natural causes.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Vivian. She kills herself and her daughter just to get back at Catherine. Justified, since Vivian is insane.
  • Green Thumb: Oberon (who provides Gwen with an acorn that grows a huge vine to save her from Bunny) and the Beast aka Rose (who grows a massive wall of thorny vines to kill Belle's father).
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Lucas and the mermaid's daughter, a baby OCTOMAID.
  • Happily Adopted: After Gwen's Abusive Parents are killed by the monsters in her house, she's taken in by her kindly neighbor, Bea.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold:
    • Mea, who seems to be a foil to the mermaid and Lucas.
    • Implied to be the case with one of Mea's "girls", who was killed by religious zealots and who apparently was going steady with one of the carnival workers.
  • Hope Spot: In Paige's story, it seems as if Paige can hear Annabelle's advice when she first finds that Augustine left a note. But when Annabelle tries to warn her that Augustine is acting suspicious, Paige can't hear her warnings.]
    Annabelle:...she can't hear me.
  • Hospital Hottie: Catherine, who serves as Vivian's nurse. This sparks Vivian's insane jealousy, as she's certain that the lovely Catherine is trying to steal Vivian's husband for herself.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Arguably why Dominique puts Morgan in the loony bin. She doesn't quite believe Dominique when she tells Morgan she's a vampire. Morgan's friend's encourage her to dump Dominique. Dominique doesn't take this well.
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: Gwen is blissfully unaware that her parents were killed by the monster sin her house. And it's best that it stays that way.
  • Important Haircut: In Cindrella's story, after the demon gives her a beautiful makeover with long hair, she runs off and cuts it to what it looked like originally. This actually saves her when her stepmother tries to offer her up before her own daughter is to be wed; said stepmother is accused for a liar and gets arrested.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight with Gwen.
  • The Ingenue: Many. Belle, Catherine and Beatrice are the few who've owned Annabelle and weren't.
  • Invisible to Normals: Augustine. Paige freaks out when she realizes this.
  • I See Dead People: Gwen, who has no trouble seeing Beauty, and and Paige, who seems to be the only one who sees Augustine.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Victoria. The portrait of her as Madame Lalaurie is lovely.
  • Karmic Death: Sylas, the Queen, Gwen's parents, Luna's parents, Belle's father, Delphine Lalaurie and Lucas.
  • Karma Houdini: Dominique and Vivian get away with having Morgan and Catherine wrongfully committed.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Assuming the villain doesn't get a Karma Houdini.
    • In Snow White, Snow kills Sylas, the Hunter who cut out her heart and the Queen is captured by the Mirror Demon.
    • In Cinderella, after Verona fools the palace guards into believing her last daughter is really Cinderella, they arrest the daughter and then Verona when she tries to bring the real thing. The other daughter is spirited away by the demon.
    • Gwen's parents abuse her. The monsters in the walls kill them.
    • Madame Victoria spent her youth torturing the slaves working in her house to death. When she returns, their ghosts kill her, with help from her niece.
    • Lucas captures and rapes a mermaid. He dies from giving birth to their child.
  • Light Is Not Good: The nuns, who are hinted to not be truly human.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: Luna doesn't die but tragedy follows her nonetheless.
  • Look Both Ways: Paige dies by running into traffic after realizing that Augustine is dead.
  • Magic Mirror: Snow White's wicked queen has one, which seems to house a demon and which drags her in at the end.
  • Magical Negro:
    • Justified in 1140 Rue Royale. They ARE.
    • Bea is implied to have some magic powers as she is the one who asked Annabelle to tell the monsters to kill Gwen's parents.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Verona may not give two fishbones about Cinderella but there's nothing she won't do for her daughters. Also, the mermaid, but Lucas ends up using it against her.
    • Also, Beatrice. Her prayer to protect Gwen from "the monsters" prompts the monsters in Gwen's closest to eat her parents, saving her from their abuse.
  • Meaningful Name: Usually in the Fractured Fairy Tale stories.
  • Mister Seahorse: A character ends up pregnant after messing with an otherworldly creature. When he complains about it, another character points out that it wouldn't have happened if he'd left the creature alone.
  • Mysterious Protector: The monsters in Gwen's house.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: Vivian accuses Catherine of being this with her husband. Catherine DOES eventually marry Vivian's widower but it was HIS idea.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Beatrice asks Annabelle to tell the monsters to kill Gwen's parents.
  • Never My Fault: Lucas insists on blaming the mermaid he kidnapped for impregnating him with her eggs. This is completely ignoring the fact that it never would have happened if he hadn't raped her after kidnapping her.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Augustine, Vivian, the slaves and Beauty. Eventually, Paige as well. They can be seen by certain people, usually only ones who they want to see them, and seem quite aware of their current situation (Beauty notwithstanding - she did know she was in an enchanted sleep, though). The slaves are also shown to be capable of possessing people and, in doing so, are able to show them memories.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: In the retelling of The Little Mermaid, a flashback shows Lucas encountering mer-people who have all sorts of human/fish body combinations. The mermaid he abducts does look like a traditional one, but her tail turns into feet when she's out of water. Also, having sex with her causes the male to be impregnated with eggs, which result in babies that need to be removed via C-section.
  • Revenge: The ghosts of Rue Royale want this. Snow also indulges.
  • Sinister Minister: Nuns are recurring villains. Some retain a semblance of humanity and kindness but they always make every situation they're in worse.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Oberon in Gwen and the Magic Tree arrives to hand Gwen a magic acorn. Said acorn saves her from being killed off by Bunny.
  • Spirit Advisor: Annabelle is Gwen's. She tries to advise some of her previous owners, but Gwen is the only one who can hear her.
  • Together in Death: Paige and Augustine finally get to dance together.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Paige realizes that her boyfriend is a ghost, Luna realizes that her grandmother, her boyfriend, and she are all werewolves, and Beauty realizes that she was Dead All Along.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Subtle, but in Gwen and the Magic Tree, Gwen is ready to arm herself with a chair to fight off against Bunny. She didn't have to fight — due to Oberon's magic acorn growing into a tree to save her — but that still takes courage.
  • Tragic Mistake: Morgan and Catherine fell in love with the wrong people.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Dominique was a much nicer person before she was bitten by the monster the nuns fed her baby to.
  • The Watcher: Annabelle. This saddens her because it means she can't do much to help her owners.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Gwen. Over the course of her stories, she's moved into a house inhabited by strange monsters in her closet, had a Cool Old Lady witch as a next door neighbor, was gifted with a sentient doll who she's the first person ever to be able to understand, meets a ghost girl on a vacation in San Francisco, gets a gift from a tree spirit, and finds out that her school friend is a terrifying monster.
  • Wicked Witch: Verona, though her powers come from a Dealwith The Devil. Snow White's evil queen also counts.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Sylas cuts out Snow White's heart, the palace guards readily beat and drag off Cinderella's stepmother and stepsister on the prince's orders, and Belle's father has her locked in the basement and beaten for being a lesbian (and hits Belle's younger sister when she suggests they forgive Belle and bring her home).
  • Would Hurt a Child: Gwen's parents hit her, Luna's mother tries to kill her, and Vivian drowns her daughter to frame Catherine.
  • You Can See Me?: Annabelle is shocked that Gwen can hear her warnings. And pleased.