The Picture of Everything Else #1 is published by Vault Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Dan Watters, artist Kishore Mohan, and letterer Aditya Bidikar. The story begins in Paris, just before the turn of the 20th century. Alphonse and Marcel are struggling artists who have snuck into a private party. They join the guests in discussing art and the recent brutal murders committed by the “Paris Ripper.” Before much discussion can be had, Alphonse sneaks a valuable figurine into his coat. Marcel notices, and the two are chased from the party.
Outside, Alphonse jokes with Marcel about the nature of art and kisses him abruptly. Marcel, hurt by Alphonse’s sudden joking affection, leaves him to return home and paint. Later that night, Marcel fears for Alphonse’s safety as he has not returned to their shared flat. As Marcel searches for Alphonse, he finds one of the other partygoers, Louis, at the door. Meanwhile, a drunk Alphonse approaches a manse and peers through the window. The horrors he witnesses inside will change his life forever.
I must confess that I have never read The Picture of Dorian Gray, though I am familiar with the story. Despite my lack of overt knowledge of the original work, I really enjoyed The Picture of Everything Else #1. It carries the air of mystery and brutality that is so interesting and effective in gothic horror. But what I found to be most compelling was Watters’ commitment to continuing the gay subtext from the original work. Here, the men’s love for each other is much more overt and visible. Alphonse and Marcel are clearly in love. However, the era in which they live demands their love be kept hidden. What adds a further wrinkle to this is that Alphonse is seemingly drawn to resemble Oscar Wilde, the writer of the original tale. Considering Wilde’s life and struggles, the fact that Alphonse bears his likeness cannot be a coincidence.
Speaking of art, Mohan’s work is a perfect fit for this tale. Done in watercolor, the artwork feels almost as if it mimics the styles of the story’s time. The characters are wonderfully expressive and lend a lot of heart to the events of the story. The linework is brilliant, alternating as the plot calls for it between distinct and formless. Meanwhile, the violence is striking and gorgeous. Blood appears as drops of paint, and attacks are shown in silhouette in such a way that you practically feel the impacts from the panels. The letters from Bidikar are solid as well. They are never difficult to read and provide a clear delineation between narration and dialogue.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with The Picture of Everything Else #1. The plot moves in an interesting branch from the material from which it was inspired. The art is wonderful and perfectly fitting for the setting. But most importantly, the story doesn’t erase the gay subtext of the original. Instead, it becomes much more overt and visible, and the story is stronger for it. I am excited to see where the story goes next, and if you’re a fan of gothic horror, you should be too.
The Picture of Everything Else #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
The Picture of Everything Else #1
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with The Picture of Everything Else #1. The plot moves in an interesting branch from the material from which it was inspired. The art is wonderful and perfectly fitting for the setting. But most importantly, the story doesn’t erase the gay subtext of the original. Instead, it becomes much more overt and visible, and the story is stronger for it.