Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde: The Happy Prince (NBM)

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Legendary artist P. Craig Russell (Sandman: The Dream Hunters) adapts one of the famed Victorian author's more sentimental stories for the comics page.

 

32 pgs. (each), color; $16.99 hardcover
(W: Oscar Wilde; A: P. Craig Russell)
 
My mental impression of Oscar Wilde is that of the ultimate aesthete, always ready (in person or in writing) with a quip or a putdown apropos to the moment. "America is the only civilization that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." "All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling." And so on—the man was a master of the quotable phrase.
 
But there's another side to Oscar Wilde, one in which his sentimental feelings come out (bearing in mind that the Victorian period also produced, without a trace of irony, poems such as "The Angel in the House" and "The Children's Hour"). This Oscar Wilde is on full display in "The Happy Prince," one of a collection of original fairy tales he published in 1888. The story is pure Victoriana, about a statue of a prince who has nobler sympathies than the human beings around him, and a swallow who delays migration to warmer climes in order to aid the prince in his charitable ventures. It's the kind of story best told by an adult to a child, because it's a little scary (Wilde had no illusions about the attitudes of the haves toward the have-nots in his world) for a young child to read alone, and yet it's a little overly sentimental for an adult to enjoy for its own sake. Sharing this volume with a younger child, however, is the perfect excuse to revisit your own childhood and enjoy basking in sunny assurances that there is such a thing as cosmic justice, and that it will prevail.
 
P. Craig Russell's art is a perfect match for Wilde's story, blending a satirical modern style when he's portraying the failings of humanity with an almost childlike innocence when it comes to the sentimental parts of the story, and capturing the fantastical nature of what is, after all, a fairy tale. Rather interestingly, Russell's artistic style in this book comes very close to that of the illustrator of the first edition, Walter Crane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Crane). You can see a sample of Russell's work here: http://nbmpub.com/blog/author/craig-russell/. | Sarah Boslaugh
 
Click here for a preview of Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde: The Happy Prince, courtesy of NBM.
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