This is the graphic novel adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It’s adapted by I.N.J. Culbard (illustrator) and Ian Edginton (text). It follows the exact same plot as the original book, so my summary is for Dorian Gray in general.
Dorian Gray is a beautiful and naive young man who has caught the eye of a famous painter. The painter, Basil, paints a portrait of Dorian that captures his beauty, innocence, and youth. By the time Dorian sees it, however, he’s already had his head filled with ideas by one Lord Henry, a cynical man who speaks his mind on whims and never means anything he says despite what the people around him assume. In a moment of madness, terrified that he’ll lose his youth, Dorian wishes that the portrait will grow old and ugly while he himself remains young and beautiful. He sells his soul this way, and indeed as Dorian sins and becomes corrupt, his innocent exterior stays the same. This painting, locked away, hides his secret.
I love this book. I’ve read it multiple times now and each time I love it a little bit more. It’s a slim volume and very easy to read, with only one tedious section where Dorian’s collections are all listed out individually. I understand why that section is there but it’s still hard to get through. Anyway, I wanted to read the GN adaptation because the book is one of my favorites. I was a little worried after Rebecca reviewed it as horrible a little while back, so I decided to try it in-store before buying it. Especially after my experience with the modernized adaptation of Crime & Punishment. Yuck.
To my happiness, I loved it! The graphic novel held the essence of the original and enhanced it. I wasn’t fond of the art style, but it certainly got the point across. Reading it was like reading an old friend, even though it was my first time for this particular adaptation.
I do have to say it would be better to read the book before reading this GN, because the adaptation does remove a certain element of Lord Henry’s character that I feel is really important to the book. In the GN, he sounds corrupt and base. He’s a woman-hater that believes in all the opinions he gives. In the book, however, it’s obvious from the beginning that Lord Henry is really more of a devil’s advocate. He doesn’t believe a word he says – he doesn’t even remember what he’s said if you leave him alone for any amount of time. He talks. He likes to talk, and what he says is just the way he works out his thoughts. But people take what he says as his absolute opinion. I love Lord Henry – he’s a lot like me in that way. He’s my favorite character in the book and the GN doesn’t do him justice. There isn’t enough subtlety in his character.
But, having read the novel enough to know Lord Henry’s personality, it was fun reading him in this format. I could hear the tone in which he says everything. Like I said before, this GN is a compliment to the novel rather than a way to get out of reading it. It enhances the book. It’s a definite keeper and I’m glad I gave it a chance despite my worries.