Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray has resisted successful adaption for over a hundred years now, and now the boys at Bluewater Productions are taking a stab at it.
Wilde’s 1890 novel tells the story of a young man who sells his soul in order to stay young and attractive forever, then indulges in an ever-increasing series of debaucheries with no ill effects, while his portrait instead bears the scars and wounds of his numerous sins.
In this latest take, written by Darren G. Davis and Scott Davis, Dorian is an upscale teenager in modern-day New York City, living with his best friend’s family while his lawyer searches for clues to his past. He lives a life of privilege and ease, with the best toys and games and fastest cars.
The story is filled with inside jokes and references to the source material (Part 1 is entitled “Wilde Ride,” for example, and Dorian references one of Bogart’s best lines about “living fast . . .”), and Federico De Luca’s pencils and colorings are skillfully utilized to move the story along, bringing a vibrant life to the characters, especially in an opening scene in which the writers play with our expectations of what we know about the story in advance.
Additionally, while staying true to the strong story beats with the introduction of Sybil Vane (and his unexplored attraction to her) and hints as to the origin of the painting, the writers skimp a little here, allowing us only tantalizing previews of what we can only assume will be larger parts to the story arc, and hope that these small tastes will be enough to hook a reader.
But, it is the characterization of Dorian himself that is most intriguing. From an offhand reference to his missing mother in a letter from his attorney, we get an inkling of what is driving him, and want to learn more. Is he the undying titular character? Does he know more than he is letting on? From the premiere issue, we can only guess and look forward to a greater depth of character and story as new issues come out. There’s a lot of potential here, if the writers can continue to craft a story that matches the strength of De Luca’s artwork.