Artist Daniel Egnéus gives Little Red Riding Hood a stylish makeover
"Little Red Riding Hood," the story of a big, bad wolf and a young girl and her grandma who meet with dire consequences, has been diluted and made more kid-friendly since Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm created their own version of the folk tale in 1812. In sync with the release of the film "Red Riding Hood," which opens this Friday and stars Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman, Harper Design has published a reinterpretation of the Grimm Brothers' fable, illustrated by Swedish artist Daniel Egnéus.
Susan Carpenter writes about the multimedia blitz of the film and accompanying books in Tuesday's Calendar section.
The 80-page hardcover is described as a gift edition but is more of an art book-graphic novel hybrid. This type of marketing follows the successful blueprint demonstrated by the publication of California artist Camille Rose Garcia's colorful, edgy version of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" in conjunction with the release of the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp film a year ago.
Egnéus' iteration stays true to the creepy story, yet his drawings and paintings lend an ethereal, romantic touch to the book.
"I wanted to put a contemporary feel into a fairy tale based in the 17th century," said Egnéus in a phone interview from his home in Milan, where he lives in a 17th century studio designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
He said that he strolled the streets and cemeteries of Milan and Venice and used some of the beautiful classic Roman columns and ruins (dating to 200 BC) that he came across for the first double-page spread in the book.
Egnéus also took cues from works by French book illustrator Edmund Dulac and Austrian painter Egon Schiele. A self-taught artist from Sweden, he learned to draw with inspiration from the comics of Will Eisner, Jack Davis and Mad magazine, which he said he read as a child. He is well-known for his commercial campaigns for Audi, BMS and Häagen-Dazs.
In this makeover of the "Red Riding Hood" story, the characters are elegant and upper class. "Making them more pompous and living in enormous castles allowed me to have more fun. I purposely dressed them in extremely big clothing, " Egnéus said.
One image shows Red and her mother in a palatial mansion in Pre-Raphaelite-style gowns about 13 to 16 feet long.
As for the wolf, the beast remains frightening but also debonair. "The wolf has the clothing of Casanova," said Egnéus, who dressed him in an elaborate, floor-length cape and cavalier hat with a plume. Feathers, in fact, and botanicals are prevalent throughout, as are familiar Venetian buildings and statues. Small and refined details in the background, such as a Venetian gondolier and Santa Lucia statue, give texture to the page.
"You shouldn't notice these details, but it adds a bit of substance," Egnéus said.
The illustrations give the story a dreamy "Twilight"-like feel with an added Poe-esque danger element that may be intentional. Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first "Twilight" film, is also the director of "Red Riding Hood."
The tale's title character "is a virginal character so every time she is seen in a dark setting, she is glowing from within, which adds an ethereal quality," Egnéus said. "It's an adult coming-of-age story about going with the wrong guy."
After the jump: see behind the scenes of the making of the book.
-- Liesl Bradner
Cover art: Daniel Egnéus. Credit: It Books