Saturday, August 3, 2019

Graphic Adaptation of "Snow, Glass, Apples" Has A Feral Magic (Preview!)

Lies and half-truths fall like snow, covering the things that I remember, the things I saw. A landscape, unrecognizable after a snowfall; that is what she has made of my life. - Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
A graphic novel adaptation of Snow, Glass, Apples is nearing release, and the more we see, the more of artist Colleen Doran's work on this project, the more excited we are. But note - this is not your mother's Snow White...

Readers will know our Editor has a soft spot for Snow White, and may also know Neil Gaiman's Snow, Glass, Apples is one of her favorite retellings, (the audio recording is particularly memorable) so has had this pre-ordered since it was announced. If you're not familiar with Gaiman's retelling you might want to know 'blood' is key in this version.
Synopsis: Terrified of her monstrous stepdaughter and determined to repel the creature and save her kingdom, a not-so-evil queen desperately tries to stop a happily ever after that was never supposed to be. Stopping ever after, however, is no small task…
'Dark beginnings'
Here's what you need to know about the new graphic novel:

Colleen Doran took inspiration from (Neil Gaiman would say 'channeled') Irish Arts & Crafts genius Harry Clarke, famous for both his illustrations and his stained glass, to style her adaptation. Harry Clarke's work is both very 'fairy tale' (beautiful!) and at the same time feral. (A quick google search for Harry Clarke images will show you what we mean.) Doran's images do more than provide visuals for Gaiman's story and true to Clarke's style, we get an additional subtext layering the story - one that doesn't shy away from the darker themes Gaiman explores.

If you're wondering, "Just how dark could it be, really?" Gaiman's retelling is one of the most memorable "revisionings" of Snow White to date, complete with flipping the script on who should be terrified of whom, and combines it with a hard-left into Anne Rice territory. (And yes, "V is for Vampire". Did we mention this is not for kids?)
The graphic novel includes an afterword by artist Doran, in which she provides a few in-progress sketches and gives some information on how she created the artwork. We are intrigued - it looks especially time-consuming - not just from a decorative point-of-view but also the work of including different design motifs and "visual subtext" that adds it's own layer of the story.
'A lonely soul'
Here are some excerpts from a very interesting and poetic advanced-preview review by Arpad Okay for DoomRocket:
If Snow, Glass, Apples was once a children’s tale, the art is its connection to those storybook roots. The look is the close of the fairy tale age, as suited for temple walls or stained glass as it is for a golden-bound board book. The story is suitable for neither, full of sex, suffering, and psychedelics. When the forests were wild and old things still dwelled there. 
Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran have turned Snow White inside out, adding other folk tale traditions, the European Christian fetish for suffering idols, and a splash of V for Vendetta self-reliance. It’s a raunchy, debauched, Grand Guignol take on a Grimm story. 
...Doran’s adaptation has unearthed something within Gaiman’s short story that has elevated it to more than it was before. Snow, Glass, Apples is a mixture of comics tradition—showing what was written—and the picturebook tradition of framing what was written in the iconography it inspires. Doran has pulled an illustrated encyclopedia out of the cultural roots of Gaiman’s dreams and Grimm’s world.
We recommend reading the whole review HERE. The review definitely reads as being written by someone who is still emerging from the dream haze one can get caught in when immersed in Snow, Glass, Apples.

While you enjoy the previews and "sneaky-peeks", as Colleen herself called them, here's a final note about the work that she posted on ADistantSoil, back in January:
Doran's first work (highschool!) "Holy Grail"
in style of Harry Clarke (click to enlarge)
I’m working in a style I’ve adapted from long study of the work of Irish Arts and Crafts Movement illustrator and stained glass creator Harry Clarke. I’ve admired his work since discovering it as a teenager. I mistook his drawings for those of Aubrey Beardsley, whom I also admire, though Clarke is far more macabre and had a longer career. Like Beardsley, he died young. Clarke passed away at age 41 after an amazingly prolific career. 
I’ve referenced a few of his drawings in the images for Neil’s book. 
Please be advised, this is a dark, mature fantasy: not for children at all. 
This highly decorative style and romantic approach suits me, and I enjoy everything about doing this book and this look. All of the drawings are by hand, and the colors are digital. I think I’d like to have a go at another work in this style.
'Taking the apple'
You can view a "live-draw video" by Colleen HERE, made while she works on Snow, Glass, Apples, in which she discusses cartoonist Rosie O'Neill, creator of the Kewpies. It's about 50 minutes long but very worth it if you're interested in Colleens' work or the importance of forgotten female cartoonist pioneers like O'Neill.

More sneaky peeks below (some of the work is in-progress):
One last note on ore-orders (which are an immense help to both Colleen and Neil): if you have access to a local comic book store you can pre-order for the earlier Comic Book store release date of August 7th, 2019 (you lucky ducks!), otherwise you can pre-order through Amazon, who is releasing it on August 20th, 2019 (and if you don't hear from us that day, you can assume its because we are caught up n the Doran-Gaiman world of Snow, Glass, Apples.


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