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Fashion & Graphic Arts in Snow
By Julie DiNisio
The story of Snow White is regaining popularity in American entertainment. Current ABC drama Once Upon a Time has picked up where the fairy tale left off, and movie Snow White and the Huntsman is going to be released on June 1. The creators of this entertainment all have put their own spin on this classic tale, but perhaps Alex, creator of Pop Mirror, has the most unique perspective with her comic Snow. Set in the modern day, Snow captures some of the darker and also more comical aspects of the two-hundred year old fairy tale. And Alex willingly answered some of Quail Bell's questions about Snow and the title character's style.
QB: When and how did you conceive the idea for Snow?
Alex: I thought of Snow while watching Project Runway. I had been thinking about a story for a comic because I wanted to enter the Morning International Comic Competition. I had entered a manga competition before and had gotten into a finalist position. Thinking I was good enough, I decided to enter another competition. The comic, which could be in any style, had to be 50 pages or under. Originally, Snow was written within these bounds, but since I didn't finish it in time for the competition that year, I changed the story to the length I felt it should be.
So back to Project Runway – it was Season 5 and Kenley Collins made a dress that reminded me of Disney's Snow White, and I thought that Snow White would be a great story. What if she was more gothic? Snow White would look great in all black. And Snow was born. I had to iron out some of the story. I'd decided on a modern twist, but the fairy tale has a lot of magic. I used technology to replace the magic. The magic mirror was now a computer.
QB: How does Snow differ from the original fairy tale?
Alex: In the fairy tale, the evil queen attempts to kill Snow White with a comb and a sash before she poisons the apple. I thought to myself that this girl must really love fashion for it to almost kill her twice. So in my story, I made Snow a fashionista who designs her own clothes. Snow is still a passive character in my comic. She doesn't fight back like in the new Snow White movies coming out this year. But she does have the skill to design and make clothes. It's not until Chapter 2 that she shows this skill. She's also different from Disney's Snow White in that she rolls her eyes, wears almost all black, and is mopey.
Because Snow takes place in the modern day, there is no magic. Instead, there's the use of technology. Snow isn't a princess. Instead, she's the child of celebrity parents. Her mother was an actress, and her father is a music producer. The seven dwarves aren't actually dwarves, and they're not employed. I named the dwarves after genres of music – Pop, Classical, Metal, Hip Hop, Blue Grass, Jazz, and Emo. Though I'm not sure Emo's an actual genre. The bad economy had to fit somewhere in the story! I think its the similarities that are really the kicker. Whether or not Snow is a princess in title doesn't change her interaction with her stepmother and doesn't change people's perception of her. Snow is loved or hated for her appearance
QB: In my first look at the comic, I noticed a lot about fruit! For example, the characters named Lemon and Lime. Is there a particular reason for this?
Alex: Yes, Lemon and Lime. I'd almost forgotten I had named them after fruit. They were really named after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's daughter, Apple. I wanted two fruits that went together, and lemons and limes do. Celebrities name their children such crazy things nowadays, I think it wouldn't be weird for a celebrity to name a child Snow, Lemon, or Lime. Lemon and Lime are also meant to be sour and bitter just like the fruit. If Snow was in color, they would wear the colors of their respective fruits, yellow and green.
QB: What's your background in art?
Alex: My art background is I learn as I go. I have taken a few art classes here and there, but mostly I taught myself how to draw. Although, I have to say that I've gotten a lot of great advice over the years. One bit of advice ended up being so powerful that I actually redid Snow. Snow took a very long time to complete because I redid it, but I think it was worth it.
QB: Why did you choose the art form of comics?
Alex: Aside from Snow being originally made for a contest, I like comics. Making a comic relies on the skills that I have to bring a story to life. I drew, wrote, and inked Snow. I think I really wanted to make a film, but that would have required a lot of involvement from other people, and my vision would have gotten lost. When I see Snow in my mind, I see it in motion. I have to decide which scenes to cut and which to keep to give the appearance of motion and the passage of time. I've even created a playlist which is under the music section on the site.
I feel like comics get a lot of flak for being written and having a lot of pictures but lacking motion or sound. Like comics are stuck in some eternal purgatory. Think about it – books for kids have illustrations but books for teens and adults don't. But I think comics have the ability to maintain the integrity of a story better than other art forms. Snow is a very visual story. If it was written only with words, the reader would lose the clothing styles and imagery.
I know comics are considered nerdy, but I think they have great pop potential. Pop is visual. Besides a lot of nerdy things are becoming pop, and pop is becoming more nerdy. This is the focus of Pop Mirror.
QB: Snow's style is interesting. What inspired it? Is it at all related to your personal style?
Alex: Snow's style is directly influenced by Disney's Snow White, 1920s fashion, and Michael Jackson. Because Snow is now old, in that it took me a while to draw it, some of Snow's style is out of date. A less-dramatic version of Disney's Snow White's puffed up shoulders were coming back in 2009 but went out by 2011. The popped collar and the gothic influences also came from Disney's Snow White. Snow wears a lot of buckles because, at the time, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson's “Bad” and because I like buckles and belts. As for the 1920s, Snow has a bob (which I'm obsessed with), and during this time, women wore a lot of accessories.
I think Snow's style is related to my style. I have similar influences such as music (particularly rock) and the 20s as a whole. I do have some similar pieces in my closet. And sometimes I draw things for Snow that I wished I could have, like the long black jacket. Thankfully, my closet isn't limited to black. That would be depressing. I like color.
QB: How has her style transformed over the course of the comic?
Alex: Well, the actual comic isn't long, so she wears two outfits in it, but in the epilogue, things get interesting. I was able to draw her in more outfits in the epilogue than the actual comic. The epilogue is a Vogue/Elle-type interview in a made up magazine called Vogella. Snow's style becomes more sleek, and you get to see Snow in pants. Throughout the comic, even the images of her as child, she's wearing dresses. She's like a cute little doll. And in the epilogue, she's a little older. She's beginning to own her style.
The two outfits seen in the comic are completely black and gray, but Snow begins to add color in her outfits later. Snow does wear one more outfit in the comic, but she wasn't the one to design it in the story. She wears clothes she borrows from Pop, one of the seven dwarves, that is more or less something Hannah Montana would wear since that is Pop's fashion inspiration. Sure, the later outfits are still mostly black. It's not like Snow had a complete personality change, I think she just realizes later that she isn't completely alone.
I wouldn't say Snow is a fashion comic, but it has been called that. I like to think of it as a pop comic.