Review: Dorian Gray #1

A comic review article by: Zoe Wadsworth

We comics fans don't generally think of Bluewater Productions as a place for creator-owned content to find a home. To the extent that we think of the publisher at all, Bluewater has been seen by most comics fans as a place to find schlocky celebrity profile comics and mediocre sequels to Hollywood blockbusters. And while at least part of that perception may be true -- many of the sequels are more than mediocre -- it's definitely not true that Bluewater isn't a place where creator-owned work can find a home. That little company from Vancouver, Washington, actually has produced a pretty good number of creator-owned and managed comics.

Most of those comics have come from the keyboard of Bluewater publisher Darren Davis and his brother Scott, and those comics have been quite well done, with a focus on quality story, quality art and some intriguing hooks.

Case in point: the Davis Brothers' update of the classic Picture of Dorian Gray as a bit of Gossip Girl meets Supernatral. This fun and well-presented comic updates the classic Dorian Gray story to modern times by giving Dorian, a spoiled trust fund kid, a deep dark secret that we readers will get to uncover at the same time that Dorian does.

This sounds a bit high concept, but the Davis brothers make the story work effectively in a few ways.

Maybe most importantly they give an interesting sense of complexity to Dorian, presenting him as a spoiled rich kid with a fancy sports car and arrogant personality, but also what seems like a really sensitive soul. In one scene Dorian attends a school presentation of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and is blown away by the performance while his friends find it boring and pointless. Dorian isn't quite sensitive in a wimpy way but he definitely has some emotional complexity that makes him stand out next to his peers.

It's also important that we get to watch Dorian uncover the story of his famous portrait. In the Davis Brothers' interpretation of this story, Dorian has no idea of his complicated fate. That means that the final page revelation gets to be a shock to everybody in the story. At the same time that we as readers know a little more than Dorian. It puts that reader in a strange situation, to both know and not know what to expect. 

And the story moves ahead quickly and with verve -- full of energy and excitement and a nice amount of forward momentum that makes this comic a quick and fun read. Dorian lives fast and may die hard -- making the forward momentum of this story a great element of the tale.

Frederico De Luca's art is a nice match for the Davis Brothers' story -- a bit dark, a bit mysterious , with lots of energy and a touch of complexity. And De Luca draws the famous, horrific portrait really gorgeously -- it's spooky and sexy all at the same time.

You may not think of Bluewater as producing comics like you might find from Image and the other publishers. But they do indeed -- and this self-published comic is a slick and fun entertainment.

 


 

Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him at jason.sacks@comicsbulletin.com or friend him on Facebook.

 

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