Oscar Wilde was a writer, but he must have had a bit of the soul of another kind of artist. His prose is richly visual, layering simile and metaphor with painterly effect. In the past century, every kind of artist from film directors to ballet choreographers have discovered how well the visual quality of Wilde’s prose translates into other forms. In my own opinion, the very best medium for reinterpreting Wilde is comics, which incorporate visual art and prose better than any other form I can think of.
Quite a number of comic artists have offered their own Dorian Grays, including French artist Stanislas Gros, who did a Beardsley-inspired side project called “Le Petit Dandy” about a Dorian who invents a “mouth organ” that distills music into liquor, among other decadent novelties.
A few more well-known artists have done Wilde comics, including (P. Craig Russel, the first openly gay mainstream comic book artist), but my very favorite Wilde comics are those of the Perfect Stars webcomic series. The author of Perfect Stars (who goes by the penname Romantic) parodies more than retells Wilde’s life and stories, but maintains a few elements of his style: stylization and an interest in the aesthetic. Her undulating lines and sharp colors evoke Wilde’s sometimes-dizzying sensory metaphors at least as well as those of Aubrey Beardsley.
Over the years her style evolved, but her Wilde preoccupation remained constant.
She’s also drawn a few scenes from an alternate version of Dorian Gray.
Every literature-based webcomic artist worth her salt has offered her own reinterpretations of the Oscar-Bosie story, including Kate Beaton of Hark a Vagrant fame (possibly inspired by Romantic’s version):
But Romantic’s been my spirit animal since middle school and I’ll always have a particular fondness for her Dorian. I mean, look at this crazy kid:
(Of course I glued this on my eighth-grade English binder.)