“Lies and half-truths fall like snow, covering the things I remember, the things I saw.”

Twisted fairy tales are a wonderful thing. I feel that they embrace the spirit and original intent of many of the fables, as morality stories and cautionary tales, meant to teach children (and adults) how to behave, how to treat one another, and why building your house out of straw might not be a good idea. They eschew Disney’s idea of a happily ever after fairy tale ending and go down darker routes. It’s why I love work like Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Robert Coover’s Briar Rose, they tap into that darkness. And as a teen fell in love with Neil Gaiman‘s short story Snow, Glass, Apples, that took the Snow White fairy tale and turned it into a gothic horror story. Later adapted into the Eisner and Stoker Award winning comic by Colleen Doran, Val Trullinger, and Todd Klein.

Dark Horse’s hardcover publications of the adaptations of Gaiman’s stories are gorgeous to begin with, slim volumes on high grade paper that typically smell wonderful. Colleen Doran’s adaptation of Snow, Glass, Apples might be the most beautiful. And that’s saying something when others feature art from luminaries like P. Craig Russell, Michael Zulli, and John Bolton. Doran delivers much of the story in full page spreads, collages of imagery, full of detail and textures. The pages themselves remind me a lot of Gustav Klimt’s paintings, in terms of the richness of the patterns and fluidity of figures, mixed with the delicateness of line and depth of colour of say Brom or Michael Parks. It’s absolutely stunning. Each page is a masterwork of art on its own.

The approach also greatly enhances the overall feel of the story. It makes the tale flow more like illustrated prose than a strict comic and I feel like it helps draw you in to the fairy tale nature of the story. Accompanied by Todd Klein’s mixed-case narration boxes, you’re enthralled by the first person narration from the point of view of the “wicked” stepmother, turning the tale on its ear. It’s interesting to see the roles reversed of hero and villain, and a natural cast of Snow White’s features as a vampire. Also fitting the dark eroticism brought to the story.

There’s also a fascinating commentary buried in the text about how stories change, about how they take on the colour of the teller, and shift to their point of view. Giving a kind of meta reason as to how this story itself could develop into a tale where Snow White became the protagonist. It’s not just a nod to how this tale takes a different point of view, but how subsequent retellings of the fables gain new elements and sometimes scrub out the darker bits.

Snow, Glass, Apples from Gaiman, Doran, Trullinger, and Klein is a dark mirror held up to the pure white snow, telling a familiar fairy tale from a new point of view, recasting it as a horror story. It’s deadly and beautiful.


Classic Comic Compendium: Snow, Glass, Apples

Snow, Glass, Apples

Writer: Neil Gaiman (original story)
Artist & Adaptation: Colleen Doran
Colour Flatting Assist: Val Trullinger
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
A chilling fantasy retelling of the Snow White fairy tale by New York Times bestselling creators Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran! A not-so-evil queen is terrified of her monstrous stepdaughter and determined to repel this creature and save her kingdom from a world where happy endings aren’t so happily ever after. From the Hugo, Bram Stoker, Locus, World Fantasy and Nebula Award-winning, and New York Times bestselling writer Neil Gaiman (American Gods) comes this graphic novel adaptation by Colleen Doran (Troll Bridge)!
Release Date: August 20 2019
Also available collected in The Neil Gaiman Library – Volume 3

Read last week’s entry in the Classic Comic Compendium!