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In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale,
extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the
essence of classic film noir on the page — and draws a
striking distinction between good and evil.

SNow WHite
by Matt Phelan

The scene: New York City. The dazzling
lights cast shadows that grow ever
darker as the glitzy prosperity of the
Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt.
Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl,
Samantha White, returning after being sent away
years earlier by her cruel stepmother, the Queen
of the Follies; Samantha’s father, the King of
Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash
only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven
street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure
as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds
the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker
tape imprinted with the wicked words
Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL.

Media Contact: Jamie Tan, Publicist · · (617) 588-4523

Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Matt Phelan

September 13, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7233-1
$19.99 ($27.00 CAN)
Age 10 and up
216 pages

A Q&A with Graphic Novelist Matt Phelan
What drew you to the story of Snow White?
“Snow White” has always been my favorite fairy tale. Like most
kids of the past few generations, the Disney version was my
introduction to the story. I loved it then and still do.
“Snow White” has more layers than many fairy tales. It has the
stepmother element, the jealousy, and the murder attempt, but it
also has the help and friendship of the seven dwarfs, which sets it
apart. Unlike other characters in fairy tales, Snow White is not
alone. She has the seven dwarfs. The Huntsman spares her. That
always interested me.

Why noir? Why set the book during the Great Depression? Did you try to set the
story in a different style or time period before landing on this one?
It was always going to be set in the late twenties/early thirties. The idea sparked from sketching
apple peddlers for a short story I wrote about Herbert Hoover for the anthology Our White
House. One day, I drew a hag-like peddler holding an apple up to a smartly dressed young
woman as everyone on the crowded street rushed by and I thought: “Snow White” in 1930s New
York. Once I had the idea, I started playing with how to translate the rest of the tale to that
particular setting. Who was the Queen? She was the Queen of the Ziegfeld Follies. Who are the
dwarfs? They could be seven street orphans, like in those old Dead End Kids movies, and so on.

Illustration copyright © 2016 by Matt Phelan

The noir tone came naturally, especially after I focused on the inheritance as the main
motivation. I’ve always been influenced by old movies. For this book, I thought about the noir
films of the 1940s, but also earlier atmospheric films such as Fritz Lang’s M and John Ford’s
The Informer, not to mention the Thin Man movies and the first ten minutes of King Kong. The
opening sequence of Citizen Kane was also an inspiration, but then again Citizen Kane is always
a creative touchstone for my graphic novels.

Tell us about your research process.
My research tends to be image-based: books, movies, or online photographs. I have a wonderful
book on the Ziegfeld Follies that I had originally bought for Bluffton: My Summers with Buster.
There are a ton of great art deco books out there (they tend to be oversize so they may actually
weigh a ton). I wanted some of that art deco in Snow White, but I was more interested in the
darker visions of the Great Depression, such as the photographs of Walker Evans and Margaret
I also took some trips up to New York City to photograph locations in Central Park and Macy’s,
as well as to find a stand-in for the White mansion. It’s always good to physically walk in the
setting, even if it has changed considerably.
One thing that I didn’t do was seek out other versions of “Snow White,” aside from rereading the
edition I’ve had since I was a kid (Sixty Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm with Arthur
Rackham’s great illustrations). I wanted to approach this story fresh. Lisbeth Zwerger once said
that “to illustrate a fairy tale is not an intellectual, scientific interpretation, but a transposition
of internal pictures and feelings.” That was my approach.

Can you tell us about your use of red hues throughout Snow White?
I wanted the art to feel like a black-and-white movie, which of course really means
a wonderful soft atmosphere of grays and shadows. Stripping your palette down,
then introducing color in a limited way can be very effective dramatically. Red
was useful for the apple, lips, and the Queen’s fury. I also tinted many of the
scenes blue or green to add variety, which is a technique that was sometimes
used in old films, particularly in the silent era.

Which character did you find most satisfying to draw?
I’ve always been fascinated with the character of the Huntsman. His mercy, which costs him
dearly, is a key element to the story and the overall theme. So I really love him as a character,
which is important in how I approached drawing him. My Mr. Hunt is a giant goon, a thug with
a gnarled, lined face that speaks of a dark and violent past. But under all of that is a heart that
can still find redemption. I don’t have the chance to draw that sort of character very often in
picture books.


Illustration copyright © 2016 by Matt Phelan

Matt Phelan is the author-illustrator of three previous graphic novels: the Scott O’Dell Award–winning The
Storm in the Barn, Around the World, and Bluffton, which was nominated for three Will Eisner Comic
Industry Awards, including Best Graphic Album. He is the author-illustrator of Druthers and the illustrator of
many books for young readers, including Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen and The Higher Power of
Lucky by Susan Patron, winner of the Newbery Medal. Matt Phelan lives in Pennsylvania.

Graphic Novels by Matt Phelan
“A first-rate pleasure from the acclaimed graphic novelist
Phelan. . . . This book — riveting, wondrously drawn, expertly
paced — is a triumph in and of itself.” — The New York Times Book Review

Around the World
HC: 978-0-7636-3619-7
PB: 978-0-7636-6925-6

“With uncommon perception and a flair for visual drama, Phelan
tracks three intrepid souls’ solo journeys around the world. . . .
Three true tales of adventure as grand and admirable in the telling
as they were in the doing.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A thoughtful, contemplative homage to storytelling and storytellers,
which, in the tradition of the greatest tall tales, presents an
empowering message that all a child needs to change the world is
courage and ingenuity.” — Booklist (starred review)

The Storm in the Barn
HC: 978-0-7636-3618-0
PB: 978-0-7636-5290-6

“Devastatingly good. . . . A wonderful comic, with a beautiful,
haunting story and art. Phelan tells a story full of fabulous
moments, quiet ones between people who care about each other and
bigger ones between our hero and the larger-than-life creature in the
barn. It’s exciting and thoughtful.” — Comic Book Resources

“Historical detail, a rich sense of place, expert pacing — Phelan keeps
all the plates in the air in this fictionalized re-creation of the boyhood
summers of Buster Keaton.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Bluffton: My Summers
with Buster
HC: 978-0-7636-5079-7

“Wonderfully evocative. . . . With a beautiful economy of phrase and
image, Mr. Phelan shows Henry’s happiness in the company of his
glamorous friend but also the jealousy that begins to trouble him.”
— The Wall Street Journal

More from Matt Phelan

HC: 978-0-7636-5955-4

Marilyn’s Monster
by Michelle Knudsen
illustrated by Matt Phelan
HC: 978-0-7636-6011-6

I’ll Be There
by Ann Stott
illustrated by Matt Phelan
HC: 978-0-7636-4711-7