Megan Kearney’s Beauty and the Beast is a recent web comic that started in 2012. It updates on Tuesdays and Fridays. This iteration of Beauty and the Beast is influenced by Robin McKinley’s classic Beauty and by Rose Daughter. (The influence is strong enough that I suspected the artist had read McKinley’s work before I even read the artist’s “about” page.) This iteration of the story brings a new twist to the story: Beauty’s mother appears to have also made a deal with the Beast, years before Beauty’s father got himself in trouble.
After this opening, we skip to many years in the future. If you’re familiar with the fairytale, you know that the merchant eventually had a number of financial setbacks and retreated to the country with his family. Its clear that in this version the family has managed to put down roots, because one of the Beauty’s older sisters is married, and expecting a child. From here, the merchant returns after having gone on a business trip and greatly offending the Beast after spending the night in the Beast’s castle. The merchant has to go back to the Beast, but Beauty goes in his place. So far, everything is more or less following the fairy tale.
I am slightly ambivalent about this iteration of the fairy tale. Beauty’s interactions with the Beast are awkward and extremely hesitant, and the Beast himself does not seem to know what to say to Beauty, given the circumstances that brought Beauty to his castle. Watching these two characters plod their way through small talk limbo is painful to read, even if the interactions are emotionally accurate. What mostly caught my interest with this web comic are Beauty and Beast’s backstories. (The former mostly involves Beauty and her family adjusting to country life, where Beast’s backstory seems to be revealing how the Beast ended up cursed.)
The update schedule does not allow for much advancement of the plot. This web comic is probably best read in an archival mode.