Delphine

Richard Sala, Author
Richard Sala. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-60699-590-7
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Inspired by Snow White, Sala’s era-conflating fairy tale is coated in the kind of atmosphere the artist is known for: a creepy, gnarled darkness that evokes German Expressionism, Universal horror films of the 1930s, and secrets hiding in dank old mansions and haunted forests. Sala imagines the prince as an unnamed, lovelorn college student trying to locate his girlfriend, Delphine, who has disappeared after returning to her hometown. Upon entering the village, the student is thrust into a grotesque world where straightforward communication is impossible, where every resident’s face looks like the stuff of nightmares, and where no one appears to know the first thing about Delphine. The territory is comfortable for Sala and familiar to fans, yet the execution is so carefully controlled and imaginative that one can’t helped being charmed and thrilled by the spectacle of a master craftsman at work. A surprising, unsettling twist toward the end is the dead rose upon this freshly dug grave of creeping terror. To classify the book merely as an “update” or “interpretation” is to gloss over the brilliant evocation of mood and love of genre that Sala so expertly conveys. (Jan.)
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