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Graphic Classics Volume 16: Oscar Wilde by Alex Burrows
Review by Gayle Surrette
Eureka Productions Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780978791964
Date: 15 December 2008 List Price $11.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Once again, Graphic Classics has put together a volume that celebrates the works of a single person, in this case Oscar Wilde. Graphic Classics 16: Oscar Wilde contains: an excerpt from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", some phrases and philosophies for the use of the young, "The Picture of Dorian Gray", "The Canterville Ghost", Lord Arthur Savile's Crime", and Salomé.

The excerpt from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", adapted by Lance Tooks has the look of an art house poster with several lines from the ballad quoted. It's quite stunning and while in black, white, and shades of grey would look great framed on a wall.

More Graphic Classics:
Graphic Classics Vol. 4: H.P. Lovecraft - 2nd Ed.
Graphic Classics Vol. 5: Jack London - 2nd Ed.
Graphic Classics Vol. 6: Ambrose Bierce - 2nd Ed.
Graphic Classics Vol. 7: Bram Stoker - 2nd Ed.
Graphic Classics: Mark Twain
Graphic Classics Vol. 14: Gothic Classics
Graphic Classics Vol. 16: Oscar Wilde
Graphic Classics Vol. 17: Science Fiction Classics

Phrases and Philosphies for the Use of the Young -- are Oscar Wilde quotes that are so appropriate even after all these years. A couple of these gems:

    Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
    The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything
"The Picture of Dorian Gray" is such a classic story that everyone thinks they know exactly what the story is and what it's about. Adapted by Alex Burrows and illustrated by Lisa K. Weber, we get the real story -- back to the original Wilde -- not as remembered through many movies and muddled retellings. Dorian Gray starts as a callow youth who is corrupted by an older man and set on a path of indulgence. No matter what he does he doesn't change only his portrait changes. Finally, he sinks lower than even he can tolerate and he acts to free himself. The illustrations are very evocative of the Victorian Era with the clothing, setting, and simply the feel of the illustrations.

In "The Canterville Ghost" adapted by Antonella Caputo and drawn by Nick Miller, we get to enjoy Wilde's tongue in cheek ghost story. An American family buys a haunted house and drives the ghost to distraction by ignoring him. Finally the ghost, depressed and at wits end, confesses his problem to the young lady of the family and is freed to move on. It's quite hilarious as the ghost tries so hard to frighten the family including their twin sons who in their turn torment the ghost. Everything is topsy-turvy in this ghost story to everyone's enjoyment. Illustrations are stylized but to the realistic side of the spectrum and easy to follow.

On the other hand, "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime" adapted by Rich Rainey and illustrated by Stan Shaw took some getting used to. The illustrations, a bit more cartoonish, are in five full page bands on each page. Each is sort of a close up shot of the characters and makes the story seem more immediately in your face since you're so close to their faces. Arthur Savile has his fortune told and actually believes what he's told. He then is determined to get it over with and then move on with his life but finds -- things can't be that easily handled. There's a few twist and unexpected turns before the happily ever after.

"Salomé" adapted by Tom Pomplun and illustrated by Molly Kiely is a retelling of the biblical story of Salomé and her dance. I found Wilde's story to be a bit flat and vapid but the adaptation and illustrations do their best to make it interesting. The drawings are of a desert villa and do have the feel of heat, desert lands, and kings who rule by whim and cruelty.

This volume is another winner, in spite of the fact that I didn't particularly care for the "Salomé" story. Each of the Graphic Classics adapt and illustrate classic stories that should be a part of our joint heritage. If you don't want to take the time to read the original works of the authors covered in this series, at least take the time to read the adaptations -- who knows you may decide to go on to the original documents.

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