Writer: Dan Watters
Illustrator: Kishore Mohan
Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A supernatural murder mystery/thriller set in the turn of the 20th century Paris art scene. Also a soft sequel to Oscar Wilde's classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Think From Hell meets Death Note.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Alphonse and Marcel are two starving artists living together and stealing from their wealthy benefactors to get by. When Alphonse is caught and the pair are forced to run from their unsuspecting friends, they get into a fight over the excess of stealing what they don't need. Marcel, furious with Alphonse, makes his way back home while Alphonse, not yet content with the mischief he's caused, breaks into a reclusive painter's house to continue his spree.
There, he witnesses blood spurt out of a painting as it's ripped in two and, across the city, Marcel's guest is ripped asunder, as if by magic. When they meet, they realize that the two events are somehow connected and Marcel compels Alphonse to investigate with him. But could a ripped painting really be causing this latest in a series of grizzly deaths? And if so, what happens when they confront the feared Paris Ripper?
Watters once again shows mastery of the form, creating a script that makes the most of its setting, characters, dialogue, and pacing and forming the rock-solid foundation of a concept that, by all rights, probably shouldn't work.
Mohan's highly atypical watercolor style breaks a lot of comic rules with shockingly good results. There are no solid lines or, for that matter, any evidence of an inking process at all, but the highly atmospheric, gorgeously painted world of the comic gets the job done all the same.
Bidikar's flexible and highly polished lettering complements the art style perfectly and never oversteps the eerie, suspenseful tone with flashy sound effects or audacious fonts.
Though not quite as pronounced as in Watter's previous works, the trademark eerie tone and body horror that make his work unique and compelling are both present in this outing.
The cool, moody colors with some notable highlights assist in the overwhelming mood of the comic. It's hard not to feel taken with the dreary but wonderfully beautiful tones that this book operates in.
I cannot overstate how beautiful the architecture and landscapes are in this comic. Mohan nails the late 1800s Parisian aesthetic and creates a place the reader feels compelled to dive into.
The dialogue, though markedly unnatural, has a characteristically charming cadence and a philosophical edge that keeps it from feeling stiff and makes it impossible to dislike reading.
There's enough going on thematically that it feels right to call this a fitting sequel to Wilde's work, a very niche thing only enormous literature nerds (like myself) would ever care about, but that doesn't stop it from being a great read on its own merits. It manages to be complex while also having a straightforward plot anyone could follow and enjoy.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
The angular faces and smooth textures mean that sometimes characters look a little too similar and can be difficult to tell apart. There's also a lack of definition that adds a layer of incongruity to the dialogue (such as when a character refers to another as old but he looks the same as everyone else).
The cursive writing is a little thin and harder to read than it should be. Yes, this is a nitpick, but it's an excellent book and I don't have much negative to say about it.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It's hard to answer this question in a specific way because there's no reason not to read it. It's just an incredible book, dripping with atmosphere and subtle horror elements that are beautifully immersive and totally gripping.
The setting is gorgeous, the writing is smart, and the presentation is so offbeat that even a jaded comic reader with a pull list the size of a small-town library would have to take note. It's maybe a bit slow if what you're used to is ultra-action manga titles, but other than that, I can't think of a reason you shouldn't give The Picture of Everything Else a shot.
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Coffin Bound by Dan Watters & Dani
Black Stars Above by Lonnie Nadler & Jenna Cha
Canopus by Dave Chisholm
If you like the art:
Gutters by Kishore Mohan
Department of Truth by James Tynion IV & Martin Simmonds
Resonant by David Andry & Alejandro Aragón
ABOUT THE CREATORS:
Dan Watters (@DanPGWatters) – Writer
Outlander: Born and currently lives in London, England
Part of the White Noise collective with other extremely talented comics creators
Indie Darling: Has established himself as a breakout voice in the indie comics scene. Some people are calling him the next Neil Gaiman. It's me, I'm people.
Kishore Mohan (@Kishoremohan) – Illustrator
Outlander: Resides in Trivandrum, a city in southern India with a long, complex history reflected in its architecture, art, and music scene.
Cartoonist: The bulk of his work is in comic strips in the New Indian Express
Style: Notable for his impressionistic, painted style that strives more for mood than precision.
Aditya Bidikar (@adityab) – Letterer
Multitalented: Co-hosts a comics podcast with fellow letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, called Letters & Lines
Dream Team: Also worked with Dan Watters on Deep Roots and Coffin Bound and Kishore Mohan on Azimuth, a short published in Crackle, Vol. 2.
Sometimes hosts a #LettererJam event on Twitter where letters all show their different approaches to a single page of comic book art
Adrian F. Wassel (@afwassel) – Editor
Name Recognition: Is the CCO & Editor-In-Chief of Vault Comics, and plays the role of editor on most of Vault's titles
Also runs Vault with his brother and father
Has personally helped other comics creators in their endeavors, even for non-Vault comics work
Tim Daniel (@TimDanielComics) – Designer
Multitalented: Also does all the design work for Vault Comics
Inspired by others in the business: Sonia Harris, Sean Phillips, and Fonographics
Dream Team: Co-wrote The Plot, Curse and Burning Fields with Michael Moreci
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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