Review: The Picture of Everything Else #1
It’s Sweeney Todd meets The Picture of Dorian Gray in this new series from Vault Comics. In The Picture of Everything Else #1, Paris’ elite begin turning up dead, their bodies looking as if they’ve been torn apart.
The story is told from the perspective of two struggling artists, Alphonse and Marcel. This is a smart choice on writer Dan Watters’ part. It elevates the story beyond a standard Gothic thriller. This choice of narrators allows him to explore themes of art and wealth as they relate to identity in a natural and nuanced way. Nothing in the story is forced, it all flows smoothly from one plot point to the next. Watters strikes a great balance between providing the reader with context and hinting at implications, leaving the reader to make their own assertions and discoveries.
As someone who is not well versed in art terminology nor early twentieth century history, a lot of the references went over my head. However, I was still drawn into the story. I was so captivated by Marcel that there were times I forgot this comic was a thriller. Then, almost without warning, Watters shocked me into remembrance. From that point onward, the story becomes equal parts forbidden romance and sinister plot.
Kishmore Mohan’s draws this first issue elegantly. If it weren’t impossible, I’d swear that Mohan traveled to Paris in 1897 and modeled this comic on what he saw. The artwork perfectly fits the picture that forms in my mind’s eye when I read novels set in this time period. Mohan’s color choices are wisely reminiscent of the types of oil paintings that comprise the subject matter of the story. All of his colors are muted or subdued, yet he is still able to capture the warmth of a sunset or the coolness of a canal street. Much like the comic’s story did, the artwork lured me into a state comfortability. Then my senses were awakened by a brutal and bloody full-page illustration of a gruesome murder.
In my opinion, The Picture of Everything Else is a comic book love letter to Oscar Wilde. It’s a modern philosophical examination of the nature of art and the role of the artist, that retains the setting and tone of The Picture of Dorian Gray. It has lovely art and a story that, while inspired by Gothic romance and Wilde’s imaginings, still has a contemporary feel. As much as I loved this comic, I recognize that it may appeal to all readers. This is a solid first issue, but it may lack enough action or mystery to engage those looking for a traditional murder mystery thriller. For those who always wondered what happened to Basil Hallward however, this is a series you’ll want to pick up.