This is exquisite. This is the book that you purchase to give as a present to a fairy tale lover, a graphic novel lover, or someone who just wants something beautiful.
I've been a fan of Matt Phelan's work since I first read The Storm in the Barn when it first came out. His work has a dreamlike quality that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. However, I admit to having my doubts when I heard that this take on Snow White would be set in the 1930s. When I think of the 30s, I think Art Deco, with its symetrical geometry and fierce lines. I think of pencil-thin brows over cupid's-bow lips. I think of martinis and silk gowns. I think of shantytowns and skeletal bodies. I wondered if Phelan could capture the contradictions of the era and tell a fairy tale at the same time.
I promise to never doubt him again. Phelan incorporates the highly stylized lines of the 1930s into his work, and it's better than anything I've seen him draw. The play of hard and soft also separates the worlds and the characters: the evil stepmother, a former Ziegfield girl, has a sharp bob, harsh brows, and overdrawn lips. Samantha White, whose family lost money in the crash, has a softer, gentler look done in Phelan's signature style.
Everything about this retelling was delightful. Samantha White is a princess of New York high society. Her father, a kindly businessman, loves her dearly. But when Samantha's mother succumbs to tuberculosis, her father is lonely. One night, he sets out I gasped when I saw what the magic mirror had turned into, and I adore Phelan's take on the seven dwarves. They're a diverse bunch, reflecting the ragamuffins who ran the streets of New York--lost boys all. But the artistic coup de grâce is the sparing, highly effective use of color. The majority of the art is black and white, so when Phelan adds a touch of color, it leaps off of the page and makes a point better than any dialogue could.
This is an essential addition to your library shelves, be they personal, public, or school. Most highly recommended.