Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray A Graphic Novel

The Picture of Dorian Gray, A Graphic Novel by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by I. N. J. Culbard and adapted by Ian Edginton

The Picture of Dorian Gray was a sensation when it was published in 1890. The beautiful but intellectually slight Dorian Gray inspires his good friend Basil in his artistic endeavors. A portrait of Dorian is his masterpiece. Basil shows his other friend, Lord Henry, who admires it greatly and wants to meet the subject. Lord Henry is a thoroughly modern man with the barbed tongue of a heartless cynic. When Dorian sees the painting and Lord Henry explains how he, Dorian, will grow old and wither while the painting will always remain youthful and innocent, Dorian prays, "If it were only the other way! If it was I who was to be forever young and the picture that was to grow old! For that, I would give everything, there is nothing in the world I would not give...I would give my soul for that!"

Dorian's wish is granted. Under Lord Henry's influence, he develops a strong taste for experience of any sort. He rejects an actress who he has fallen in love with because Lord Henry doesn't like her acting. Dorian cruelly dumps her. The next day, he resolves to make it up to her but finds out that she committed suicide. He looks at the painting and notices the cruel, baggy eyes and the smile that has turned to a scowl. He goes on to live a decadent life, letting the painting receive the consequences of his sins. But can it go on forever?

The story is full of great quotes, which are captured here. The plot is followed closely. The black and white drawing are used effectively, showing the facade of innocence Dorian has through his life while his friends age. The Picture itself is well done, with more character than Dorian himself. The graphic novel is a good summary of the story, but it can't match the lyrical words of Wilde and the greater depth of Dorian's psychological and moral fall that are described in the book. I'd recommend reading the original over reading this, though this is a nice refresher.


  1. oh good combination of author/illustrator! I just finished a series by them in 2000 AD. Culbard's work deserves to be in colour though, so surprised it's b/w. Great Wilde classic too!

  2. The art was really good. I will have to keep my eyes out for other books from them.