“Little Red Riding Hood
I don’t think little big girls should
Go walking in these spooky old woods alone”
—Sam the Sham
Honestly, I find alternate takes on the Little Red Riding Hood story far more interesting than the original Grimm’s fairytale. The story itself is fairly misogynistic, with Little Red and Grandma both needing rescued from the Big Bad Wolf by a random woodsman with an axe. Red in particular is naïve and insipid, quick to follow bad advice from a questionable source and slow to react to an obvious danger (I think she may have been the inspiration for Little Timmy Martin from the Lassie TV series). All in all, I think the satirizing and lampooning that the story has received in popular culture is well deserved.
I’ve occasionally seen action heroines use the red hood for their signature trademark, but this is the first time I recall seeing Red as a huntress. I like the concept of her as a stalker in the woods, perhaps tracking the wolf who devoured her grandmother. Though I think it’s more likely she’s after bandits or raiders who’re causing trouble for the local woodsmen. Or perhaps she is a wolf-hunter, but focuses on those of the were variety—and thus her blunderbuss fires shot of alchemical silver. There’s a lot of cool possibilities as to how badass our red-mantled heroine might be.
One quality I love in Nick’s character designs is the willingness to adopt, alter, and blatantly ignore character tropes in his heroines. The green shirt is about the only quintessential ranger/hunter garment we see here, the rest are clearly modeled specifically for this character. In fitting with the Red Riding Hood theme, our southpaw huntress wears a red hood and mantle, rather than a full cloak. The hood functions mainly to protect Red’s head, shoulders, and chest from rain, wind, and sun during her journeys. Pants are light and durable for forest treks, but only moderately protective in combat.
Her gloves are heavy leather to protect from knife-blades, or perhaps animal teeth. The right bracer is even studded for additional protection. Right elbow has an additional leather pad to protect that joint from blunt-force trauma. But Red’s most perplexing garments may be her footwear. Leather gaiters, they’re designed to protect the legs when hiking or climbing and can be rolled up to keep the legs dry when wading a creek or a marsh. Typically, they should go on over a pair of boots or shoes, but our huntress is wearing them barefoot. Not that there’s anything wrong with barefoot. The average Iroquois tracker can attest to the benefits of moving silently in bare feet, and the average Greek hoplite will agree that epidermis offers far better traction than any leather or wooden sole ever designed.
To me, it’s clear that our girl Red is the sneak-up-and-pounce variety of hunter, rather than the long-range marksman variety. In fact, Red arsenal strongly suggests that she’s stalking people rather than game. The shot from the blunderbuss is designed for a conical area of effect, with minimal effective range. Where animals are more inclined to run when they know they’re being hunted—thus necessitating a weapon with range and accuracy—the ‘buss is more effective against bandits who are likely to attack when threatened. Red’s backup weapons are a bearded hand-axe and knife or dagger for fighting up close and personal.
Kudos to Nick on another amazing and interesting heroine. Thanks for reading and take care, folks!