Monday, July 25, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray

This adaptation of Oscar Wilde's only novel conveys a streamlined version of the original work. Dorian Gray, a handsome and narcissistic man, commissions artist Basil Hallward to paint a portrait of him. Taken with himself and his desires, Dorian sells his soul so that the portrait will age and change while he himself remains youthful and attractive. Given to hedonistic tendencies, Dorian lives according to his appetites, regardless of the consequences for others. Over time, his sinful lifestyle is reflected in the painting, which becomes hideous and marked with age. After eighteen years, however, his actions start to catch up to him.

This graphic novel is the work of Ian Edginton and I. N. J. Culbard, who were the creators behind a series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations. Their work has a modern feel that evokes emotion through stylized faces, pointed phrases, and a muted, frosted aspect of the artwork. I feel the art is wonderfully expressive. Culbard blogs more about his work here.

Reviews of this book have been mostly positive but with some reservations. The Comics Journal's Kristian Williams examines several graphic adaptations of Wilde's novel and opines about this version that too much of the original wording "has been pruned from the dialogue, and so Lord Henry Wotton’s philosophy is reduced to a series of clever inversions and bold affronts to common sense. Likewise, the art, while very good, cannot but clash with the Victorian setting." This short review from the Do Even I Dare to Speak? blog states that "the graphics are fairly simplistic and the writing is just average." More reviews can be found at Goodreads.

This book was published in the US by Sterling Children's Books. A preview is available from Self Made Hero.

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