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Webcomic / Peritale

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Once Upon a Time, there was a fairy with no magic.

Peritale is a fantasy webcomic by Mari Costa.

In the fairy realm Ítera, the most prestigious job is that of the Fairy Godmother, tasked with fulfilling Fairytales in the human world. An eager young fairy by the name of Periwinkle E. Poulaine would like nothing more than to become a godmother herself. Despite not having a drop of magic to her name, she manages to land the job through sheer determination, and sets out on her first assignment.

Periwinkle's first Fairytale brings her to a reclusive witch named Vallery, who's destined to fall in love with the Prince and live Happily Ever After. However, she runs into some complications along the way, not the least of which is that her charge is actually pretty satisfied with her life, and isn't really on board with the whole Fairytale thing. With strange omens afoot, having no magic at her disposal could end up being the least of her problems...

The comic also has a Spin-Off, Life of Melody, originally released to Patreon backers and later published as a full graphic novel. The comic takes place in the same setting as Peritale, and centers around a fairy godfather named Razzmatazz and a troll named Bon raising a human child together. The comic was eventually posted to the main site during a break in the main story.

Peritale contains examples of these tropes:

  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Unlike a good majority of the fairy population, Periwinkle has no magic. She can't even fly. Most of her classmates and instructors are rather dismissive of her as a result.
    • It's implied that Peri's brother Cedric is somewhat of an outcast among the fairy elite for being an academy dropout.
    • Side material in Life of Melody mentions that Razzmatazz had in interest in human paraphernalia in his youth (in particular, a toy piano), which didn't earn him many friends growing up.
  • The Archmage:
    • Hydrangea is extremely powerful, and Peri's other sister Celeste is currently the second most powerful fairy in the Fairy Realm.
    • Vallery is implied to be similarly powerful compared to normal human magic users, and could apparently do some impressive feats if she wished.
  • Because Destiny Says So: From a human perspective, the fairies' justification for meddling in their affairs. Hydrangea is of the opinion that there is no such thing as destiny; everything that happens does so by design, and a fairy godmother's purpose is to carry out that design, no matter what. If that happens to result in a Doomed Hometown or two along the way, then...
  • Badass Family: At least four of Periwinkle's six siblings are fairy godparents, and her other siblings have strong magic flowing through their veins. Their mother is also the current "Grandfairy", ruler of the fairy realm Ítera, and given the strong hints that magical strength is directly connected to social standing in the fairy realm...
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Mr. Lefèbvre claims that books about fairies cannot be trusted since they're tainted by author bias... specifically, they all have the same bias (see Written by the Winners below).
    Lefèbvre: There isn't a single book or Fairy historian who isn't heavily biased. Not as far as I've read.
    Olive: I don't get it. What's so bad about that? Doesn't everyone have a bias?
    Lefèbvre: Correct.
    Olive: Hey! Dontcha talk down to me just 'cause I— Wait, what?
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Despite having males and females, it's implied that fairies reproduce asexually. Periwinkle is surprised to hear that Vallery had two parents.
  • Character Overlap:
    • Minty the fairy archivist appears in the first chapter of Peritale to give Peri her first assignment, and has a recurring role in Life of Melody as Razzmatazz's beleaguered coworker and sole contact in the fairy world.
    • Razz, Bon, and Melody appear in a brief scene in Peritale as Periwinkle is exploring Crescent Port City, with Razz recognizing her as Íteran nobility and introducing himself.
    • None of the major characters from Peritale appear in Life of Melody, but certain characters are mentioned in passing. Razz justifies his planned absence from Ítera by saying that no one will notice he's gone: "what am I, a Poulaine?", and some of the local human children are enamored with the story of "Legendary Qing".
  • Crapsaccharine World: The fairies tend to be very dismissive of humans outside of their roles in Fairytales, and don't care whether or not the humans want those roles, assuming that they know best. The way Periwinkle is treated for her lack of magic also shows some serious flaws in their society.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Fairies are outright feared in the human world. Olive identifies Periwinkle as a fairy, but expresses relief that she's not "one of the bad ones"; when Peri asks her who "the bad ones" are, her response is succinct: all of them.
    • "The Witch" doesn't have a particularly good reputation, either; she spends all her time in her tower and never interacts with anyone outside, so she must be plotting something, right? Vallery insists that she's "probably not" evil, but doesn't care enough to correct the record.
  • Fish out of Water: Most fairies, considering the three that we've seen so far, don't have a great idea of what humans act like. This presumably isn't a problem for most fairies since they can just magic their way to the end of their story, but Peri doesn't have magic which means she has to try and fit into human society for an extended time, making the lack of social knowledge more obvious.
  • Flashback B-Plot: Hydrangea's B-plot takes place around the same time as the prologue, fourteen years before the main story.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The fisherwoman that keeps bugging Hydrangea is all too happy to praise the mysterious Agatha Qing because she is her.
  • Low Fantasy: The stakes of Peritale are fairly intimate, with consequences affecting only Periwinkle, Vallery, and their immediate circle of acquaintances. Magic is present, but the only fantasy creatures around are fairies and beasts, who live in their own realms separate from the human world and rarely interact.
  • The Magocracy: It seems social standing in the fairy world is at least partially dependent on magical strength. Besides the way Periwinkle is treated, it seems one needs to have certain magical rankings for certain things, like an automaton refusing to send Periwinkle's brother a return message because she has insufficient magic.
  • Masquerade Ball: A big part of the plot is actually about Periwinkle getting Vallery to attend a masquerade ball, supposedly so she can meet her "prince" and fulfill the fairy tale. Things get shaken up a bit, though, when Periwinkle decides to disguise herself in order to watch over Vallery.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Peri is the sixth of seven siblings.
  • Missing Mom: It doesn't seem like Periwinkle's mom is... there all much. Nor does she expect much from Periwinkle, either.
  • One-Word Title: Peritale, a combination of the protagonist's Periwinkle's name and the word "fairytale".
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The central protagonist is a fairy and a significant part of the story centers around fairy society and the stigmatism associated with having no magic.
  • Painting the Medium: Characters' speech bubbles are color-coded. In one instance, when Peri lists off all of her siblings, their names are highlighted in their respective colors. In another instance, when Lavender addresses Peri using Hydrangea's old nickname for her, it's highlighted in Hydrangea's color.
  • Production Throwback: The bookstore owner Mr. Lefèbvre and his apprentice Marie first appeared in one of Costa's previous works, The Well by the House on the Hill.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Magical ability is ranked on the character bios on a five-star system, but Hydrangea and Celeste are so powerful that they are simply rated as 5+.
  • Smug Super: It seems that fairies tend to assume that they know better than humans, and put them through Fairy tales even if they don't want to participate. Hydrangea also had no problem destroying a corn crop simply to move through it and needs to be convinced not to.
  • Truly Single Parent: Most fairies, apparently.
  • Written by the Winners: Anyone who tries to make a written account of fairies ends up showering them with praise and adulation, and it's implied that some sort of magical compulsion is to blame. Eventually, most folks stopped bothering, and spread their accounts through word-of-mouth instead, which is harder to corrupt. The only book seen so far not affected by this is a personal journal.

Life of Melody contains examples of these tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: Razzmatazz and Bon adopt the human aliases of Raj and Lancelot.
  • Arranged Marriage: Razzmatazz and Bon use this as their cover story in their human aliases.
  • Changeling Fantasy: The impetus for the story: Razz has grown frustrated with humans' "uncooperative" nature (though his colleague would rather chalk it up to his own incompetence), and comes up with an idea to circumvent it: adopt his protagonist as an infant and raise her himself until she's old enough to complete her tale.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, Bon prevents Melody from putting a magic artifact in her mouth — magic can't be digested, and swallowing one would make its effect permanent unless the artifact was surgically removed. Near the end, after Razz turns himself into a human, Bon follows suit by swallowing his glamour ring.
  • Fantastic Racism: While human/fairy relations are also explored in Peritale (see: The Dreaded, Smug Super), this story implies that human/beast and beast/fairy relations aren't much better. Bon's backstory involves a road trip in the human world where he was chased out of at least one town via Torches and Pitchforks.
  • Glamour Failure: The glamour that Razz applies to Bon can't hide his Third Eye. Bon prefers to keep it closed anyway, and the glamour does give him enough hair to conceal it.
  • Humanity Ensues: Razz tears out his own wings, turning himself into a human.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Razz failed to consider that his fairy lifespan is over twice the length of Bon's or Melody's and that both of them will likely die off while he's still in his prime.
  • Parental Abandonment: It's left ambiguous, but Melody being alone in the middle of the woods at the start of the story implies that her biological parents abandoned her for some unknown reason.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Neither Razz nor Bon are willing to entrust the human child to the other, and end up posing as a married couple to buy a home in a small human town and raise her together. Over time, they fall in love and end up marrying for real.
  • The Unreveal: Neither Melody's past nor her future is revealed. Bon's Third Eye can see into others' memories, and he can identify who Melody's real parents are and where she came from (and, presumably, how she ended up alone in the woods), but Razz tells him that "the humans who made her" don't matter, because they're her parents. Razz has the book containing the Fairytale that Melody will one day fulfill, but destroys it when he renounces his position as godfather.

And... Once Upon a Time... There was a fairy with more magic than she knew what to do with.