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Webcomic / Erstwhile

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"Brother and Sister"

Erstwhile is a collaborative comic project from Strawberry Comics publishing.

The comic focuses on classic fairy tales that may be less well known in modern times, or no longer in their original version in modern tellings. These are all derived from The Brothers Grimm thus far, and are faithful to the versions published by them.

Strawberry Comic members Gina Biggs, Louisa Roy, and Elle Skinner are the current collaborators. Several stories are available online here.


Has Adapted The Next Tales:


Provides Examples Of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the original "Sweetheart Roland", the evil stepsister was described as being very ugly. Here, unflattering facial expressions aside, she's quite attractive. She's just as ugly on the inside, however.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • "Snow White and Rose Red" adds a scene of Snow White and the Bear talking during the winter, and then another where the girls see a sign about the missing prince and meet his brother. Neither was in the Grimms' version but they help set up the ending better.
    • "King Thrushbeard" adds one couple of scenes to explain why Thrushbeard would want to get married to a petulant, cruel princess who mocked him publicly.
    • "Maid Maleen" adds a scene to explain why the bride does not want to show her face to anybody.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: King Thrushbeard. The princess acknowledges that she was proud and shouldn't have mocked him, but she also points out that it wasn't nice to make her life so difficult. Thrushbeard says her father asked for his help in teaching her a lesson and they went too far. He sincerely apologises and wants to make it up to her.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • In "Maid Maleen," both she and her prince (Orland) have arranged marriages; she refuses hers and thus gets locked in a tower, and he goes through with his because he thinks she's lost to him forever.
    • In “The Twelve Huntsmen”, Prince Aster must break off his engagement to Princess Poppy because his father’s Dying Wish was that his son marry Lady Iris instead. Luckily for both the protagonists, Lady Iris didn’t want the marriage anymore than Aster did, and is happy at the news that he plans to wed another.
  • Art Shift: The opening of "Maid Maleen" is told with pictures she drew herself.
  • Bag of Holding: A magic nutshell can hold all of All-Fur's dresses.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The heroine of "A Tale With A Riddle," along with two other women, are turned into flowers.
    • The bear in "Snow White and Rose Red" turns out to be a cursed prince.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Poppy in "The Twelve Huntsmen" is designed this way.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: In "Snow White and Rose Red", Rose does this to the dwarf after he complains about Snow cutting off part of his beard.
  • Break the Haughty: The princess of King Thrushbeard. Her father becomes so annoyed at her constant complaining and mocking of her suitors that he marries her off to a beggar.
  • Bride and Switch: Maid Maleen is talked into taking the ugly bride's place during the wedding, a fact made weirder by the fact that she used to be engaged to the prince herself.
  • Celestial Deadline: The heroine of "A Tale With A Riddle" is set free for only a night.
  • Child Marriage Veto: The princess of "King Thrushbeard" — and boy, does she use it.
  • Children Are Tender-Hearted: The little boy's ghost appears content until he sees his mother crying — then the Tender Tears go on.
  • Composite Character: The Grimms' version of "The Springing, Singing Lark" mentions in passing that the princess' father is a sorcerer; in this version, she is, and seems to run the kingdom herself.
  • Contrived Coincidence: "Doctor Know-it-All" runs on this, with him misunderstanding and then saying the perfect thing to come out ahead.
  • Crush Blush: Quite a few of the stories, most notably "Brother and Sister" (between the king and Jane) and "Snow White And Rose Red" for both canon couples.
  • Cue the Sun: Maid Maleen's description of her happy ending.
  • Curse: In Brother and Sister, the brother, John, is turned into a deer; in "The Singing, Springing Lark," Marcus and everyone else in his palace turn into lions during the day; and three women in "A Tale With a Riddle" are turned into flowers.
  • Curse Escape Clause: The husband of the woman in "A Tale With A Riddle" can save her from being a flower by picking her, but has to choose her from two other flowers that look identical.
  • Damsel in Distress: The wife in "A Tale With A Riddle" is turned into a flower, but will return to normal if her husband can pick her out from two other flowers.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Maid Maleen gets herself out of the tower.
  • Dances and Balls: Three of them in "All Fur," which she attends in her three beautiful dresses and dances with the King.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • The Flash Forward in "The Farmer's Clever Daughter" is done in blues.
    • "The Old Man and his Grandson" is done in beiges.
  • Depraved Dwarf: A mythical one serves as the villain in "Snow White and Rose Red."
  • Dirty Coward: The Dwarf from "Snow White and Rose Red". When the bear attacks him, he (mistakenly thinking he wants him for food) tries to get the animal to go after Snow White and Rose Red instead, saying they'd make a better meal.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The bride in "Maid Maleen" rejects this as causing future problems.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Naturally, there are a few; unless you count villains like in "Maid Maleen," their own flaws are "Arranged Marriage candidates when the male lead is already in love with protagonist." Fortunately, they're treated sympathetically: the one from "The Twelve Huntsmen" apparently didn't want to marry Prince Aster anyway, while the girl from "Sweetheart Roland" seems to hook up with the Shepherd instead.
  • Double In-Law Marriage: The bear suggests this to Rose Red as a solution to her dilemma of wanting to get married someday, but not wanting to have something she couldn't share with her sister.
  • Downer Ending: "The Bird, the Mouse, & the Sausage" and "The Death of the Little Hen."
  • Eating the Eye Candy: In "All-Fur," the artwork makes it look like the princess is ogling the king's rear end at one point.
  • Engagement Challenge: Gender Flipped in "The Farmer's Clever Daughter"—the king agrees to marry her if she can solve his riddle.
  • Exact Words: How the farmer's clever daughter won out in the end.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: All-Fur is a princess who has to work in the kitchens in a neighboring kingdom.
    • The protagonist of "Iron Hans" is a prince who has to work as a gardener.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Or rather, not getting over because it was true love, not only an infaution, despite the speed montage, in "Brother and Sister."
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Expected of the princess in King Thrushbeard.
  • Femme Fatalons: The Bride in "Maid Maleen" has long fingernails.
  • First-Name Basis: The king tells the farmer's clever daughter his name when she calls him "sire" just before the wedding.
  • Framing Device: "A Tale With a Riddle" is told to her daughter.
  • Ghibli Hills: Rose Red and Snow White are perfectly safe sleeping in the woods overnight.
  • Girl in the Tower: Maid Maleen is set in a tower for seven years for refusing to go through with her Arranged Marriage.
  • Grand Theft Me: In "Brother and Sister," Jane is killed and her stepsister uses magic to replace her.
  • Guile Hero: The eponymous character of "The Farmer's Clever Daughter."
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: "Snow White and Rose Red" makes Snow White a blonde, and she's the more gentle of the two sisters.
  • Honor Before Reason: In "The Farmer's Clever Daughter," the farmer unearths a gold mortar while tilling the land the king gave him. He plans on giving it to the king as a token of gratitude, but his daughter warns him not to do so until after they find the pestle to go along with it. The farmer ignores her advice, causing the king to believe the farmer is keeping the pestle for himself and has him thrown into the dungeon until he agrees to produce the pestle.
  • Hypnotize the Captive:
    • In "The Singing, Springing Lark," Marcus is put under a spell to forget Svetlana and marry the villain, Valdis, instead.
    • The title character of "Sweetheart Roland," though interestingly, not by the girl he almost marries—the Wicked Stepmother put a spell on him just to spite the protagonist.
  • Identical Stranger: The first stage of princess Poppy's plan is to gather eleven girls with similar faces and body types to her. This is done without any difficulty whatsoever.
  • Impossible Task: Paradox version.
    King: Come to me, not dressed, not naked, not on a horse, not by carriage, not on the road, not off the road, and if you do, I'll marry you.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: In "All-Fur", the princess is visibly revolted when her father announces his intention to marry her.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The son in "The Little Shroud." He spends most of the story as a ghost.
  • Last Request: In "All-Fur," the protagonist's mother tells her husband not to remarry unless he can find a woman as beautiful as her. He manages to find one, though there's a LITTLE problem...
    • In "The Twelve Huntsmen," the king's last request was an Arranged Marriage for his son, despite him already being engaged to the protagonist.
  • Love at First Note: In "King Thrushbeard," this is a scene added to the story—he hears the princess singing, and thus falls for her despite her less-than-charming personality.
  • Love at First Sight: In "Brother and Sister," the King hears that the fawn they're chasing lives with a girl in the woods, goes to meet her, and proposes at their first meeting.
  • Makeup Is Evil: The bride in "Maid Maleen" tries to hide herself with this.
  • The Marvelous Deer:
    • A deer is one of Rose Red and Snow White's protectors in the forest.
    • In "Brother and Sister", the king and his hunting party pursue the transformed John, because a majestic white deer wearing a golden collar is an enticing quarry to them.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: In "Sweetheart Roland," his eyes turn red when the Wicked Stepmother's spell kicks in.
  • The Mourning After: The first king engages in this for a long time "All-Furs."
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: The bride's last attempt in "Maid Maleen."
  • Nameless Narrative: Averted in many cases, as several characters who were nameless in the original stories are named here.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: In "A Tale With A Riddle," the husband must choose one flower among three.
  • Nursery Rhyme: The Grimms' version of "Maid Maleen" ends with one about her being stuck in the tower; the comic adapted this by having some children playing around the tower after she's already left.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • The villainess at the end of "Maid Maleen."
    • The Wicked Stepmother in "Sweetheart Roland" tries to decapitate Dulcia in her sleep, but Dulcia switches places with the wicked stepsister so that she dies instead.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: "The Farmer's Clever Daughter" opens with the daughter Slipping a Mickey to the king and covering him in a sheet. We find out why toward the end.
  • One Head Taller: Inverted in "The Singing, Springing Lark". Svetla is a good five or six inches taller than her husband Marcus.
  • Only the Knowledgable May Pass: The bride betrays herself by ignorance of the ceremony in "Maid Maleen."
  • Our Angels Are Different: In "Snow White And Rose Red," a childlike angel keeps them from falling off a cliff.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: In "The Little Shroud," he apparently can't "rest" in his grave as long as his mother is grieving. In "Brother and Sister" the sister's ghost is oddly active, even able to nurse the baby she had right before she died!
  • Pair the Spares: The end of "Sweetheart Roland" implies that Ivy and the shepherd will get together. Even Dulcia's father, now widowed from the Wicked Stepmother, seems to be hitting it off with somebody new.
  • Parental Abandonment: All-Fur describes her plight as this. Technically, she ran away from home, albeit for a good reason.
  • Parental Incest: In "All-Fur", the King wants to marry his own daughter.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Maid Maleen says that she will only marry Orland, while her father wants her to marry somebody else. She gets locked in a tower for her trouble.
  • The Promise: All-Furs's mother extracts one while dying.
  • Race Lift: All the fairy tales are European, but the characters vary. For example, "A Tale with a Riddle" has black protagonists, while the other cursed women are Ambiguously Brown.
  • Rags to Royalty: "The Farmer's Clever Daughter" has a peasant marry a king; Maid Maleen and All-Fur were born princesses, but go through a "rags" phase before marrying a fellow royal.
  • Redhead In Green: Rose Red in "Snow White and Rose Red", when she isn't dressed in warmer colors.
  • Red Right Hand: The stepsister in "Brother and Sister" can't get her eye back.
  • Royal Brat: The Princess in "King Thrushbeard." The whole story is basically a case of Break the Haughty.
  • Rule of Seven: How many years Maid Maleen was to be locked up.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Rose Red and Snow White's mother insists on it.
  • Scullery Maid: Where else will you work? The prince in "Iron Hans" even got a job there at first.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Averted in most of the stories, but played straight at the end of "Brother and Sister."
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: In "All Fur," the title character is unrecognizable when she changes from her fur outfit to her beautiful dresses.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The farmer's clever daughter to the king.
    • Also how the princesses give the suitors the slip in "The Worn-out Dancing Shoes."
  • Stealth Pun: The title characters of "Brother and Sister" are named John and Jane. John is turned into a deer. They're John and Jane Doe.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: This sets off the plot of "All Fur." When the main character turns out to be as beautiful as her deceased mother, her father goes mad and insists on marrying her as replacement. She runs away.
    • In "Snow White and Rose Red," the girls initially mistake one prince for his missing brother.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Marcus from "The Singing, Springing Lark," perhaps to make him look more like a lion.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In "King Thrushbeard", while the princess acknowledges that she deserved some punishment for the way she behaved, she is NOT happy at the way she was treated, and wastes no time letting both her father and husband know about it.
  • Sweat Drop: You'd sweat too, if your bride talked about your true love on your wedding day.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Poppy and her crew dress up as huntsmen to see her ex-fiance.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: The bear in "Snow White and Rose Red" does this after Snow White hugs him in gratitude for his advice.
  • Through His Stomach: The second king is much taken with All Fur's soup.
  • Time Passes Montage: Between the marriage in "Brother and Sister" and the baby's birth.
  • True Blue Femininity: Snow White in "Snow White and Rose Red" typically wears light blue, which helps underscore the fact that she's more of a homebody than Rose Red.
  • Walking the Earth: Svetlana does this searching for Marcus in "The Singing, Springing Lark"