a 30’s era Snow White walks into a superb graphic novel

Perfect for cold-weather, dark-early evenings, this outstanding graphic novel rendition of the classic fairy tale will suit folks ages 11-Adult looking for an unusual spin on a Grimm tale (did you catch that pun?) and phenomenal artwork.

snow-white-a-graphic-novel-cover-imageSnow White: A Graphic Novel, written and illustrated by Matt Phelan
published in 2016 by Candlewick

Snow White in the Depression Era. Bobbed hair and Art Deco. Hoovervilles and the Ziegfield Follies. There’s so much heady atmosphere to work with in that time period!  Matt Phelan brilliantly translates Snow White into an early-1930’s New York City scene with a Daddy-Warbucks-millionaire, his vamp-ish second wife, seven tough little street boys, and a tenderhearted beauty nicknamed Snow.


Phelan’s exquisite watercolors cast a lovely, moody, film-noir sense. Pages of brooding panels are punctuated by black placards bearing titles in stylized type, all hailing to the silent film era.  The story itself is, appropriately, largely told through quiet, wordless panels. Phelan has granted us front row seats in an old cinema, as it were, with images carrying the story along,  and only brief dialogue boxes.


The wicked stepmother in this story is as hideously ruthless as the old queen in the version you know. Instead of discovering her fate via a magical mirror, it is, ironically, a glass-domed ticker tape machine, the conduit of all their fortunes, which reveals the unwelcome truth to her about her fading glory. Somehow popping this villainess into a realistic modern setting made her coldblooded thirst for murder even more horrifying, for me, and Phelan capitalizes on this with smears of red on the otherwise gray-scale pages. Can you say creepy?!


Please note that this is not a jolly little fairy tale for the very young. It’s a sophisticated interpretation for middle-graders through adults, masterfully told. I thoroughly enjoyed it and encourage you to give it a whirl.