Graphic Novelty²


Snow White

Snow, Glass, Apples

For Halloween this year, my spooky choice is a twisted fairy tale from the esteemed Neil Gaiman whose dark and whimsical tales are sure to please.

He once again tackles the Snow White story, but in a different angle from his The Sleeper and the Spindle tale, as this story is told from Snow White’s stepmother’s perspective and she is far from a wicked witch. Instead, the twist is that young Snow White is the evil one, and is a vampire who manipulates others. Plus, there is quite the erotica element to this tale, so it is for mature audiences only.

The story begins with Snow White’s father, the virile and handsome king, discovering a teenaged beauty and taking her as a lover and eventually as his second wife. She is only a decade older than her stepdaughter, a pretty but secretive girl, who stays away from her. One night the girl comes into her chambers and the new queen beckons her closer, anxious to get to know her. But Snow White bites her and runs off leaving the queen distraught and scared.

Soon the king begins to weaken and before he dies the queen sees that his body is covered head to toe with scars that had never been there before. We are to believe his daughter sucked the life right out of him, leaving the queen in command of the kingdom.

The queen makes the radical decision to banish the girl and instructs a hunter to kill her and remove her heart. But as Snow White is of demonic blood, she remains alive in the deep forest and grows into a beautiful young woman, despite her pulsing heart being strung up in the queen’s chambers. Snow White preys on the forest folk and a few appeal to the queen for help, who has some mild magical powers herself. The queen is able to fool Snow White into eating a poisoned apple and her body is covered by a crystal cairn by the dwarves she had been terrorizing.

The kingdom settles down peacefully for a few years until a creepy-ass prince, who harbors some dark desires, comes to visit. And this is where it gets good! How the prince “saves” Snow White is deliciously twisted and perverse. Some of the earlier erotica between the king and queen is tame, compared to what comes next.

While Gaiman’s tale is excellent, it is the art by Colleen Doran that makes this book stand out. She draws in an Art Nouveau style and takes inspiration from famed artists Harry Clarke and Aubrey Beardsley. Her art is reminiscent of stained glass windows with deep jewel blues and purples. She incorporates mandalas and nature into the backgrounds, so the illustrations are a feast for the eyes. That the book has a storybook look, just adds to the fairytale motif. An artist’s note at the end tells of her research and the artistic process of inking these exquisite pictures.

A delightfully creepy twist on the Snow White fairytale, that paired with the beautiful art makes this graphic novel a must-read!


Snow White

Phelan, Matt. Snow White. 2016.

Wrapping up the last of my fairy tale themed graphic novels, this re-adaptation of the Snow White tale left me feeling disappointed. While it follows the Disney-esque story faithfully, it’s film noir vibe wasn’t enough to elevate it for me.

The quickly read story starts out in 1918 as Samantha (Snow) White and her father sadly witness the mother dying. Fast forward 10 years, and the father is suddenly an old man who becomes enchanted with the Queen of the Follies, a glamorous Broadway star. They marry, and Snow is sent away to boarding school for a few years. Snow’s father, the King of Wall Street survives and thrives during the Great Depression, but dies after being poisoned by his new wife.

Snow, now a beautiful young woman,  returns for the funeral and during the reading of the will it is discovered Snow was left most of the estate. Furious, the stepmother hires someone to kill Snow, but she escapes to hide in the snowy streets of NYC. In a shantytown (Hooverville) she befriends seven street urchins who have more savvy in keeping safe and she stays with them.

Snow’s stepmother discovers that Snow is still alive and disguises herself as an old woman so she can give Snow a poisoned apple. The boys discover Snow after she has taken a bite and some give chase to the Queen, in which she meets an untimely demise. The boys reunite to take care of Snow and take her to be displayed in the shop windows of Manhattan, representing the glass coffin. A detective thinking she is dead, kisses her (which is disturbing in modern retellings of this tale) and she awakens. There is a happy ending for all at the end.

The illustrations are sketchy and dark hued, with a bit of red used sparingly to signify blood and apples. I was reminded of the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, with the black and white illustrations, and I thought the look was reminiscent of stylized silent pictures.  The artwork is lovely, and that color is used in the last few pages to signify happiness, is effective.

Although all the pieces of the story and artwork are well done, it just didn’t fit together well in my mind, perhaps due to the very little dialogue. But I realize others might really enjoy the atmospheric retelling, so I would still recommend it to others who enjoy Snow White tales.


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