Friday, September 30, 2016

Breaking News: A First (Real) Look at Disney's New Belle and the Beast

Looks like we're boarding the ramp-up to the release! The first real picture of  the live action Beast is out, via Stitch Kingdom, as is a look at Belle in her provincial dress (see below) and her ball gown.

Note: at the time of this posting - about 12 hours after the release (leak?) Stitch Kingdom does not seem to be hosting hi-res versions as originally indicated. We can't find any official notice to back up that these were officially released as the post said so we apologize that no more info is currently available. Once on the internet, though, forever out there...

Reactions are, to say the least, mixed. Generally people love Belle's common garb but her ball look is less liked across the board. As for the Beast, a lot of people are having issues with the Legend-ish nature (think Tim Curry) of those horns.
Either way, it's a solid indication of what the film will look like, but when things move, they do look very different and we've been promised some altering of the story to fit the live action (real people) medium, as opposed to animation. In animation you can get away with a lot more but when things are represented live, sometimes things can hit a little close to home.

We will admit we do like the costuming though - both for the Beast and Belle as shown in these two pics.

So what do you think? Still excited?

The Disney List: Current Tally of Fairy Tale and Fantasy Films in the Works (@ Sept 29, 2016)

As promised, so you can keep up to date with the running tally of Disney fairy tale or fantasy projects coming to the live action screen, along with animation that's of interest, here's the latest list of all those in the works, with many just announced in April and May 20146.

These films are all in different stages of production, from early development through to nearing release and are in no particular order.

Not all films have release dates as yet.

As mentioned yesterday, you may want to bookmark this list, just so you have it handy.

Live Action:

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Genie (Aladdin)
  • Cruella
  • Maleficent II (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Peter Pan
  • Pinocchio
  • The Little Mermaid (Universal is still working on an HCA-based version too, though it is plagued by issues)
  • Dumbo
  • The Sword in the Stone
  • Mulan
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Tink (Tinkerbell - note: Fox is also working on a Tinkerbell movie, possibly more tenn/adult oriented)
  • Snow White-Rose Red
  • Prince Charming (Cinderella)
  • A Wrinkle In Time
  • Mary Poppins II
  • Jungle Cruise
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  • The Jungle Book II
  • Night on Bald Mountain (Fantasia)

There are also 3 "Untitled Disney Fairy Tale" live action films (release dates scheduled as: 7/28/17, 4/6/18, 12/20/19)
and 2 "Untitled Disney Live Action" films in the works (release dates scheduled as: 8/3/18, 12/25/18).

  • Moana
  • Frozen II
  • Coco (Dia  de los Muertos)
  • Giants (Jack and the Beanstalk)
Note: All these films are confirmed as being in various stages of production at the time of this post, September 30, 2016.

Multi-Award Winning "H&G" Available to View for Limited Time

We covered this film as it was being made, back in 2013 HERE, knowing with indie film director Danishka Esterhazy at the helm, that it would be a worthy addition to the Hansel and Gretel re-tellings out there when it was complete. Critics and film festivals have confirmed it is, plying the film with multiple awards.

For the coming two weeks - a limited time - you can rent the film online to see it (94 minutes, English and PG), via this website, celebrating excellence in Canadian film making HERE.

From Esterhazy's Instagram account:
My film H&G is featured this week in the Canada Screens VIFF celebration. You can rent H&G for only $1.99 during the sale. There are some great films in this promotion! Visit
(Note for US folk: It's also available on Amazon Prime.)

Might be a good fairy tale film for the coming weekend, don't you think?

Here's the quick synopsis and the trailer below is a must-see:
A girl and boy. Brother and sister. Living in poverty and neglect. Lost in the woods. They see a house, rush toward it… it is magical. Full of good food, soft sheets, love and care. But in this house, danger lurks. And all they have is each other. The Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel takes a modern neorealist twist in H&G.

Fashion & Fairy Tales: Dancing Princesses

We should mention up front: this is less about shoes* than the dresses and the photography.

This fashion shoot is from a few years ago (2012) but we re-discovered it in one of our (many) "potential posts" lists, and with the buzz about The Twelve Dancing Princesses seeming to grow stronger over social media (though we haven't found the reason why... yet), we thought it would be good to show this updated version of many people's favorite fairy tale party girls. (Or are they under the influence of different "enchantments"?)

There's so much to explore in this tale: the three enchanted woods (Silver! Gold! Diamonds!), the nightly draw of all these sisters to underground dancing, the ever-growing pile of ruined shoes (does the King have tailors on retainer? And for how many years?), the unnamed princes (were they human? Were they under enchantment too?), the sort - or sorts - of enchantments at play... It's easy to see how it translates so well to modern party culture, and is thus, perfect fodder for fashion editorials.

This theme was the major portion of the Winter holiday shoot titled "A Fairy Holiday". Anna Palma and Chadwick Tyler, working for fashion retailer FreePeople, did a very interesting interpretation of this, harking back to many of the tale motifs, making for some intriguing photographs (and possibly some writing prompts too).

On the FreePeople blog, Julia reminisced about the tale in such a lovely way, I'm re-posting her summary here:
When I was little, one of my absolute favorite stories was the 12 Dancing Princesses, and it is something that will always bring to mind the holiday season.  The fairytale told the story of 12 beautiful princesses who were drawn from their beds each night by the desire to dance. They would sneak out of their castle and travel through three magical forests, which was always my favorite part of the story. The first forest was shining silver, the second a glowing gold, and the third was the most magical of all, full of shimmering diamonds. The imagery was gorgeous and I dreamed of one day finding these enchanted forests. 

The princesses would reach a lake where they each met a prince who would row them to a castle in the middle of the lake, where they would dance the night away until they wore out their shoes.  Come the morning, the king would find them sleeping in their beds, but with a pile of worn out slippers that were a mystery to him.  He would recruit princes to watch over the princesses and see where they went at night, but the princesses would trick them by bringing them along and at the end of the night, offering them a special drink that would make them fall asleep and forget everything. I always found it to be such an intriguing tale and it has stuck with me ever since. I love that it was the inspiration behind one section of our November catalog!

*Has anyone seen a shoe fashion editorial based on the Worn Out Dancing Shoes? Seems like an editorial waiting to happen.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Breaking News: Blue Sky Studios & Fox Animation to Adapt Garth Nix's "Frogkisser!"

Frogkisser! is not even released yet (due out in February 2017 by Scholastic in the US and in Spring via Picadilly Press in the UK) but has already gotten a lot of interest. So much so that it's been snapped up for a live action-animation hybrid movie by Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Rio, Epic, The Peanuts Movie).

Here's Nix's excited tweet:

Garth Nix: “FROGKISSER! is one of those novels that just bubble out of the imagination and demand to be written all at once and won’t permit anything else to get in the way. I am delighted that my various publishers have all responded to the book with as much exuberance as I felt while I was writing it.”
And i's a musical!

Fox Animation recently announced an initiative to expand what it calls "family hybrid" movies and the Australian author's book is first cap off the rank. Apart from great news for Nix and fairy tale fans, this clues us into a interesting direction for future movies coming from Fox and Blue Sky - a musical family hybrid - aka live action and animation fantasy family-friendly movie! We really are going back to the trends of the 80's and 90's in a good way. (Disney will be taking notice, you can be certain.)

It is indeed a "princess kissing frogs" story but with a wonderful Garth Nix twist. Here's the blurb:
The Last Thing She Needs Is a Prince. 
The First Thing She Needs Is Some Magic.  
Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother's new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. 
Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land-and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low. 
With Frogkisser!, acclaimed bestselling author Garth Nix has conjured a fantastical tale for all ages, full of laughs and danger, surprises and delights, and an immense population of frogs. It's 50% fairy tale, 50% fantasy, and 100% pure enjoyment from start to finish. 
Fox seems pretty happy about it. They even seemed to have gotten a jump on the marketing. Appearing on Ralph Millero's Instagram today (Millero is 20th Century Fox Vice President in charge of The Peanuts Movie), with the caption "How many frogs have you kissed?":

Disney's "Lion King" Next To Go To Live Action

Why are we posting about Disney's announcement of this on a fairy tale news site? Despite it's story roots being widely acknowledged as Hamlet, Disney's The Lion King was received as a fable in the general public, and one people responded to - personally and with their wallets. (Until Frozen, The Lion King held the title of biggest money spinner for the Mouse House in history.) While fable and folklore are obviously fairy tale related, there is a more compelling reason that this interests us.
Since the Broadway re-imagining by the amazing Julie Taymor, with actors and dancers playing the parts of animals as if they were coming alive from ancient stories, the folktale representation and resonances of this story got stronger. A lot of this was aided by the representation of the characters, both in their designs, the integration of puppetry and tribal designs, but also, very importantly, the live storytelling aspect that captured audiences everywhere, instilling a love of theater and story exploration in a way the Broadway hadn't seen for a long time.

While the film has always been a family favorite, it's the stage version and blending of human and animal (along with storytelling and song) that has inspired a generation to further explore story telling, folktales, folklore, fables and representation of "world peoples" in Western pop culture. While we've met many people who loved the film, for the majority it's their experience of the Broadway play that changed their world view and inspired them in different creative fields.

The clear success - even by Executive standards - of Favreau's approach to a live action re-imagining of The Jungle Book for Disney, has inspired confidence that the company can repeat, and hopefully eclipse, that success with one of it's hottest animal properties, The Lion King.

Here's the announcement:
We can officially confirm that The Walt Disney Studios and director Jon Favreau are putting a new reimagining of The Lion King on the fast track to production. The project follows the technologically groundbreaking smash hit The Jungle Book, directed by Favreau, which debuted in April and has earned $965.8 million worldwide. 
...Like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King will include songs from the animated film. Disney and Favreau are also in development on a sequel to The Jungle Book. No release date has been announced for either film. (Source)
With the word "reimagining" (a hot word in the media right now, if you hadn't noticed) being key to this announcement, you can be sure fable, folklore and fairy tale folk will be watching how this is done, and how it's received by the public. Will they have singing animals, similar to The Jungle Book approach? Or shall we be treated to a new blending of human and animal which has more in common with the play? While the likelihood is that they will follow the successful formula of The Jungle Book, storytellers around the world should be watching too, as rumors of using a(nother) 'unique approach' to the narrative are strongly hinted as, as well.

While this fan trailer HERE does a good job of recreating key animated scenes in live action, (with generous use of the Aslan animation from Disney's production  of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), we can expect something very different.

It's a risky step, with such a unique and beloved stage play, already so different from the animated film. It's hard to imagine that a way of telling the story so very differently from the film, as was used on Broadway, will evolve. Disney has a long history of live action films and talking animals and without the use of unique media to change the delivery method from storyteller to audience (such as live puppetry that immerses the audience and involves them in the story), it's easiest to imagine this just use similar techniques to The Jungle Book, minus humans this time, and rely on the audience wanting more.

But you never know. We've been happily surprised once - thrilled even - by how this story evolved when it moved to stage and live action is a different medium to animation, so perhaps we'll be pleasantly surprised again.

ALERT: Tomorrow we'll be posting as complete a list of fairy tale and fantasy movies in the works by Disney, both in live action and animation. Although it won't be a complete list of everything in the works (eg we won't be including Wreck It Ralph II since the fairy tale/folklore tie-ins are minimal-to-none as far as we can see), it's still a pretty long list, and deserving of it's own post. (Heck - you may want to bookmark it, just so you have the list handy!)

Ask Baba Yaga: How Can I Forgive My Narcissistic Mother?

Alex Niño ? From United Komicks 1972

There's a reason therapists always ask about your parents - about your mother. Baba Yaga has some important words for those who had, or have, a very rough road with self-centered caretakers. 

Here's today's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

Poisoned hats.... *shudder* No wonder some people seem so unwell and don't seem to see the world, and events, in the same way as the majority.

This sounds very much in line with "whatever you think you become". The image of a leaking black ink hat is so very vivid though. To break a cycle sometimes the right visual helps you focus on stopping that pattern and this one would be a great boost in that direction.

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
This is the email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Chronotopia's Dark Fairy Tale Visual Novel Seeks to Put You In Donkeyskin's Shoes (Kickstarter Project)

... in a visual novel where you make the choices that save her, or doom her to death - multiple times.

Currently on Kickstarter, with just under a month to go till the funding goal, this project is a "visual novel" with aspects of game play, in which the reader makes choices (by clicking on the options) to move the story forward.
From the site:
A dark and mature rewriting of a forgotten fairytale with many twists. Will you save Donkeyskin or doom her?In Chronotopia, you incarnate a soul who recently found their way in Purgatory. The soul has to find the memories of their previous life again, otherwise they’ll be damned. You’re assisted by a mysterious young girl who has the power to travel through lost worlds –the uchronia, which are actually rewritings of fairytales. During your journey in the fairytale world, you will witness events that can grant the soul fragments of their buried memories. The number of fragments you collect will affect the fate of the soul.

Chronotopia is a dark retelling of the fairytale of Donkeyskin, which is very similar to Cinderella. Here, instead of remarrying, the heroine’s father decides he should wed her instead, so she has to escape with the help of her fairy godmother to finally be able to meet the prince. And that’s where we present our version with a more...realistic and mature approach to spice things up. Of course, the choices you make will also affect her fate: she can either escape with her servant, become a fairy herself or die in a horrible way. Multiple times. 
  • A unique take on a forgotten fairytale with many twists
  • Branching story where choices affect the endings: will you save the protagonists or doom them?
  • Beautiful artwork, with animated backgrounds and special stained-glass illustrations  
  • Extensive use of RenPy 3D camera for a more dynamic presentation 
  • Several segments allowing you to freely explore the castle to discover its secrets  
  • A full original soundtrack with celtic influences
As you can see, even though Chronotopia is a visual novel, there will also be several gameplay segments through the game to enhance the experience and offer a more dynamic presentation.
The Donkeyskin story is blended with a few different gaming, anime and folktale aspects to make for an unusual combination. While the Donkeyskin premise seems fairly apparent, especially at the outset, the journey into Purgatory and taking on the powers of a fairy, for a price, aren't usually part of the package. The time factor is obviously key, with a name like "Chronotopia", but how that works isn't entirely clear.

With grownup themes and the words "dark" and "adult" attached it's also unclear which demographic the novel/game is aimed at, especially with such appealing storybook-like illustrations.

The decision to make Donkeyskin/Kionna a princess of color is an interesting one, and adds interesting and different undertones to an already disturbing tale. Although some aspects like the role of the fairy and why the Princess is the character going through Purgatory are intriguing, it's the choice in having a Princess of color, the implications of such and, as a result, the different lens through which to view the tale, that is the most appealing to us. If you delve into the world of Chronotopia, we'd love to know.

We find no references to apps, Android or iPads for the final product but it will be multiplatform for the most common PCs (Mac, PC, Linux). In the meantime you can download various demos HERE.

If you're interested to know more, head over to the Kickstarter page. There is a lot of information about the developer team and other aspects of the project as well.

Update 9/29/16: A mobile version of the game is a stretch goal at present. Also dark doesn't mean 18+. We have been reassured by the creators that this is quite appropriate for all teens.

"Peter Rabbit" Is Getting The Big Screen Live Action Treatment (In Oz)

Not lots of news about this yet, although there is some regarding casting, but we're posting the news since children's literature often overlaps with fairy tale interests. The Australian studio Animal Logic, that handled the animation for the (amazing) film The Lego Movie, will handle the animation (of which there will be a lot, as this is a live action-CG hybrid film). 

James Cordon will be Peter's nemesis Mr. McGregor.

The live action portion will also be shot in Australia, in Sydney, in handy proximity to Animal Logic.

Here's the initial report:
With this film, Columbia and Frederick Warne will bring Beatrix Potter’s beloved character Peter Rabbit to a new family audience. Warne has been Beatrix Potter’s publisher since its publication of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” in 1902, and is home to the Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter brands.
“We at Penguin Random House UK are delighted to be working with Columbia Pictures,” said Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK. “As custodians of Beatrix Potter’s brand and legacy, we are excited about the opportunity this production will bring to engage a whole new audience with the world of Beatrix Potter and one of her best-loved characters, the mischievous Peter Rabbit.”Sony Pictures Entertainment will create and execute a worldwide licensing and merchandising program for the new “Peter Rabbit,” in association with Warne.Production on “Peter Rabbit” is due to commence in January 2017, and is set for worldwide release in April 2018. The film will be made with the support of the Australian Government through Screen Australia and Screen NSW, and in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation. Lauren Abrahams will oversee the project for the studio.

"Stardust" To Air Via BBC Radio (& Gaiman's Many Other Projects!)

One of a number of covers for Vertigo comics by Charles Vess for Neil Gaiman's Stardust
Neil Gaiman is one busy and prolific creator, there is no doubt, but even while he is busy promoting no less than two new books and six re-releases with new artwork, (all of which you can see below and will be of great interest to fairy tale folk), as well as giving his stamp of approval to the upcoming American Gods TV series (airing in 2017 for Starz), he always seems to have other projects bubbling away in the background.
See an amazing preview of the Troll Bridge graphic novel HERE.
We are guessing the hammer will not spin as the book sits on your shelf...
This is a re-release with Chris Riddell's illustrations
(who was critically praised and awarded for his work on Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle)
One of these that we'll be treated to in the Winter/Yule/Christmas Season, is a new, adapted, dramatized, audio performance of his story "Stardust".
The just-released new cover, painted by Robert E McGinnis.
While we're always happy to see more unicorns, Charles Vess' Yvaine and flowing ink lines
will always be iconic for us
Stardust is Gaiman's work du jour it would seem! There is a new release of the novel with a new cover by  - along with new covers for three other books of Gaiman's, (see below) and you did see Lisa Stock's lovely photo story posted a few days ago with Gaiman's blessing, correct?
Also painted by Robert E McGinnis
There's also a contest for those in the UK, to create some artwork to be featured as the front cover.
Charles Vess
The two competition winners will have their work featured as the episode image for the drama, as well as receiving a script signed by the cast. You’ll also get a beautiful print donated by Neil with a personal note. One winner will be selected from each of the following categories: entrants aged 13 - 16; entrants over 17.
Entries will be considered by four judges. They are:
  • - Artist Chris Riddell - UK Children’s Laureate, political cartoonist for The Observer and illustrator for a number of Neil Gaiman stories
  • - Actor Sophie Rundle - As the female lead Yvaine in Stardust, Sophie is close to the spirit of the Stardust story
  • - Artist Sean Phillips - Sean has been a professional illustrator for over twenty-five years, mostly drawing comic books. He was the main artist on Radio 4’s Good Omens and has also worked for DC, Marvel, Vertigo and 2000AD
  • Jeremy Howe, commissioning editor for Drama at Radio 4
You can find those details HERE.

Here's the cast list:
We hope BBC will see fit to broadcast this online so BBC - and Stardust - fans around the world will have the opportunity to hear it.
From the 2007 movie adaptation of Stardust, starring Claire Daines

One Upon A Time Opener Adds Refugees from The Land of Untold Stories

"Nothing is more dangerous than an untold story..." 

So begins the 6th season of Once Upon A Time. And we truly hope this is a promise and not just a catch phrase (though it appears it's going to take a few episodes to get to the 'untolds' in question #wevoteCinderellastepfamily).

In this season Storybrooke will be "invaded" by "The Land of Untold Stories", where characters from the series have discovered that "there are more stories and tales out there than we ever dreamed..". (Note: while this was the teaser, the first episode treated inhabitants from this land more like refugees, given blankets after surviving the crashed dirigible.) Our optimistic hearts leapt at the thought that perhaps the producers and writers were finally open to delving into the myriad fairy tales (and myths and legends) from around the world. Where the lands of Storybrooke and other realms of Once Upon A Time had seemed limited and going in circles, it seemed there was finally the possibility of developing and exploring the hundreds and thousands of unexplored tales. Our optimism was abruptly bridled on reading the cast from the series had expressed thoughts that it "seems like we're running out of tales" at ComiCon, even though they hastened to add, "but of course that would never happen". 
It's a strange dichotomy: the series becoming open to "the land of untold stories" and delving into 1001 nights of Scheherazade's stories, while the show seems to be struggling with finding tales to tell. They're also making sure to mention that they're going "back to basics" with this season so the hope is that rather than just watching another version of having the reset button hit, that any first season story lines that are revisited will be explored in greater (and we hope, fairy tale related) depth. We do know Cinderella is set to return (although living in Storybrooke this whole time, we really haven't seen, if nay of her), but this time we'll see more of her stepmother and stepsisters as well. Since Cinderella has already been given her "happily ever after" (she was Emma's first success story, which, in part, led her to stay on in the town) we're curious to see if this will be dismantled and redefined or if indeed the show is taking a serious look at what "happily ever after" really means.
Meanwhile, the season opener on Sunday reported boosted ratings, due to the expectation of Aladdin, Jasmine and flying carpets, further exploration of the Disney version of the Beauty and the Beast story, along with a resurgence of the Wicked Queen persona. It probably helps that the budget seems to have had a boost as well. (Cue full sized dirigible set/prop piece #piratescaribbeanleftovers? and decent 3D animation for its appearance.) Though the special effects continue to be less than stellar from time to time, (#oraclebirdredeye) the production values are better and the sets, props vehicles and costumes seem to have noticeably improved (or the photography of those has improved - either way - things look better overall than they did).

The Belle-Rumpel story line (we left Belle pregnant and in an enchanted sleep at the end of last season) has its usual complications, though, without spoiling too much, it was refreshing to see "dream Belle" resist falling into her old ways with Rumpel. Children give you strength to do the most difficult things, which it seems will be a theme that will be explored in this season. And hers isn't the only baby around. Zelena (the Wicked Witch and sister of Regina/Evil Queen) has a baby too. But we're wishing on stars that isn't the only role these children will fill. With so much fairy and fairy tale lore surrounding births and babies, we sincerely hope the writers will be exploring some of these aspects as well, rather than just having infants complicate a situation (not to mention there is potential for both children to be "magical" given their parentage). Pregnancy, birth, infants and new motherhood in fairy tales is a fairy new area being explored in depth in fairy tale scholarship and, along with related fairy lore, there's so much potential for furthering fairy tales here.

Regarding the plot for the opener, not a lot happened, (other than the set up for which certain moments were included) so there's not much, if anything to truly spoil. Things should begin to develop in the next episode though, so we have eyes-on to see if any of these potential threads are followed.
The preceding hour recap of the series and introduction to season 6 with Kitsis and Horowitz 'answering questions', was much more intriguing. Things often take a long time to happen on the show just due to the enormous amounts of conversations and discussions so extracting the moments of magic and the touchstones for different characters and putting them together for discussion and review is interesting. While we understand the "drama" aspect appeals to many of the viewers, we find it often gets in the way of the storytelling, especially when retelling various fairy tales which tend toward flatness and are spare on unnecessary details. Highlights remind us that there have been many different explorations of tales of the show that are worth attention, and often work to bring different themes and threads into clearer focus as well. 
In the recap, there was a discussion of Easter eggs from the final episode of last season, confirming possible characters and classics that would appear this season. Agrabah folk, which have been the main teasers before the season premiere, Victorian London, which we already saw with Hyde, along with Paul Bunyan and other clues. There were also many mentions of fairy tale motifs and moments that were presented differently, which are interesting to reflect on. The exploration - and promise of exploration - of Snow White's character is something the teasers have pushed during the hiatus but the story that started it all (Snow White and Charming) has been "background soap" for the last few seasons, confirming for us that many writers are a little lost in trying to find "the magic in marriage" and make it "exciting TV". That they're promising to bring it front and center again is interesting (and we could suggest some great  tales for them to use to do that) but without the threat of terrible things (and Stockholm syndrome) as shown in the Belle/Rumpel dynamic, making it the equivalent of a train wreck you can't look away from, Snow and Charming are likely to have to deal with something extreme to bring back the fan-obsession. We have to wonder if part of the problem isn't to do with the lack of Charming's own mythic story. Although he's been given interesting background, matching the level and strength of a Snow White myth is a tough call, and for Snow to be wedded (literally) to a weaker arc, has the result of making her appear weak too. If that turns around to indeed become central again (and hit those' epic fairy tale' heights), it might make all the difference. We choose to cheer them on toward this goal.
A last aside: among the various questions asked of the creators, one random one was: "If Henry is the Author, who is the Illustrator?" We weren't happy with the lack of acknowledgement of the people who create the visuals - including those of the Once Upon A Time book, and the reply that the magic pen gave the Author powers of illustration as well was a blatant cop-out. It was also a missed opportunity for expanding the OUAT mythos. Given this is a visual information age, and that fairy tale illustrations have been key in keeping fairy tales alive in our time, not to mention that illustrations are a unique way of relating fairy tales and stories and a completely different skill set from writing, we felt let down by the lack of understanding here.

On a pro note: we were told very specifically that Dopey, who was turned into a tree some time back and has generally been forgotten about, will make a return appearance and fill in the gaps in relation to that story as well. We haven't had tree-related stories for a while (though the Merlin story line made use of one) and they were a key foundation, with Regina's apple tree in the first few episodes helping set the tone, twists and mythology for the series, and there's so much tree lore in fairy tales, it's a rich mine to pull from. We hope this will be a wonderful addition.
From Jennifer Morrison, who plays Emma, Snow White & Prince Charming's child and the Savior of Storybrooke:
"It's also showing that it's a return to returning to happy endings. The original concept of the storytelling of Once Upon a Time was that we were going to restore the happy endings," Jennifer explained. "So as we look at our characters in more depth and sort of introspectively deal with some of their baggage and all of the things that have happened over the last six years, they're also returning to the identity that they have. As the heroes, they're going to help save these happy endings." (source)

Bonus OUAT Season 6 Opener Drinking game:
(created by our Once Upon A Blog newsroom team)
Do a shot:
- every time you hear the word "story" in episode 1 
- every time you hear refrains from Beauty and the Beast 
- every time you hear the word "Savior" 
- every time Emma does her "anguished" face
Enjoy your OUAT hangover! 
Fairy Tale Bonus of the Day (or at least a OUAT bonus):
In case you haven't been keeping up with the OUAT buzz over the Summer, there are reports that for two episodes and once story arc, Princess Leia (yes, Star Wars Leia), will be, not only making an appearance but add some twists to the twisted family tree of the Once characters. I'll just include extracts as taken from an interview with the creators earlier this year after the jump:

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