Karen Haber Reviews Three Art Books

Snow, Glass, Apples, Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran (Dark Horse 978-1-50670-979-6, $17.99, unpaginated, hc) August 2019. Cover by Colleen Doran.

Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover, Trina Rob­bins (It’s Alive 978-1-7325915-2-3, $24.99, 80pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Trina Robbins.

Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark, Ulla Thynell (Chronicle Books, 978-1-4521-7447-1, $22.95, 160pp, hc) August 2019. Cover by Ulla Thynell.

Snow, Glass, Apples is a unique, beautiful, and occasionally brutal take on the Snow White legend, from the point of view of the stepmother. This provocative dark fantasy story by Neil Gaiman is brought to full-color life by artist Colleen Doran in a hardcover graphic novel from Dark Horse that offers impressive produc­tion values.

This unflinching revision of the Snow White story with Snow White as the villain is not for children nor the faint of heart. Doran makes it visually powerful, erotic, and memorable. In an afterword, she cites as her chief inspiration the artist Harry Clarke (1889-1931), a leading figure in the Irish Arts and Crafts movement, renowned for his Art-Nouveau- and Art-Deco-inspired stained glass designs. Doran moves way beyond traditional graphic novel format, literally breaking the story free of panels and gutters to provide a stimulating dramatic experience. This is a must-read for fans of fine graphic novels, dark fantasy, inspired illustrations, and Neil Gaiman.

(Note: Colleen Doran also contributed to the tribute reissue of Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover adapted & illustrated by Trina Robbins. See below.)

The Silver Metal Lover is a reprint of comic pioneer Trina Robbins’s romantic adaptation of Tanith Lee’s love story between a human and a robot. It’s good-looking, well-made, and impor­tant for several reasons. First, it’s the pairing of two powerful female creators. Next, Robbins’s interpretation of Lee’s story is a nostalgic visit to a vanished era of comic book design by one of the only women who was drawing comics at the time. Finally, it’s loaded with extras: articles by comic luminaries and writers influenced by both Lee and Robbins, plus a bonus story, “Exercise in Gold”, an adaptation by Robbins of a differ­ent Lee story, taken from her novel Don’t Bite the Sun, for Heavy Metal magazine. (“Exercise in Gold” was unauthorized at the time Robbins drew it and Tanith Lee initially considered suing Robbins but ultimately forgave her and provided permission for the story’s use and for the adap­tation of The Silver Metal Lover.) Romantic and retro, with commentary by comic stars Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, and writer Storm Con­stantine, this is a must for anyone interested in the history of women in comics.

Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark, illustrated by Ulla Thynell, offers a lot of artistic value for a modest-sized book that won’t take up too much shelf space.

The attractive package includes lacquer-embossed framing on the cover, full color il­lustrations, a bound-in ribbon bookmark, and fanciful endpapers and chapter dividers. In these tales, trolls inhabit snowy forests, monsters roam the stormy seas, and a young woman takes a journey to the end of the world. Translated and transcribed by folklorists in the 19th century, these unabridged stories are cozy, hilarious, chilling, and magical. Ulla Thynell conjures dragons, princesses, talking bears, magic castles, and the northern lights. This is a charming book for lovers of fairytales and folklore.

This review and more like it in the December 2020 issue of Locus.

Locus Magazine, Science Fiction FantasyWhile you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a one-time or recurring donation. We rely on reader donations to keep the magazine and site going, and would like to keep the site paywall free, but WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT to continue quality coverage of the science fiction and fantasy field.

©Locus Magazine. Copyrighted material may not be republished without permission of LSFF.

One thought on “Karen Haber Reviews Three Art Books

  • January 22, 2021 at 9:48 am

    You failed to mention that Drew Ford/It’s Alive refuses to fulfil Kickstarter products paid for by his supporters, such as myself, and a tremendous amount of merchandise is left unreceived across multiple projects going back for years.

    Please report on this. And, yes, Tanith Lee and Trina Robbins are amazing, and this adaptation of Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover deserves to be regularly re-released, just by a less dishonest publisher.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *