The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde
Vol.5: The Happy Prince
P. Craig Russell
The Happy Prince is arguably the most famous and well loved of Oscar Wilde's nine fairy tales, rivaled only by The Selfish Giant. It is also a very timely tale at a time of controversy over the increasing chasm between rich and poor…The Happy Prince has lived a life of opulence but has died young and his soul inhabits a beautiful ruby encrusted statue covered all over in gold leaf. From his perch high above the city he is witness to all the poverty, misery, and hopelessness in which his people have been living. When a small barn swallow in flight to the warm south ahead of the approaching winter stops to rest upon the statue the Happy Prince prevails upon him to delay his travels in order to remove his gold leaf a piece at a time and shower it upon the poor citizens. Out of love for the Happy Prince the swallow does his bidding. As the days pass the Prince's beauty is stripped away and as winter sets in the bird's fate is sealed. In the spring the townspeople finding only a dull statue with a broken lead heart and a dead bird consign the worthless objects to the ash heap. Only an emissary of God recognizes them as the most valuable treasures of the city and brings them to the gardens of heaven.
"Russell’s admiration and respect for this tale shines brilliantly. Russell’s style is evocative of earlier illustrators and illustrative styles, echoing art nouveau styles and the splendour of Arthur Rackham. The story is a treat as well as a treatise for contemporary readers of all ages."
-No Flying No Tights
"Russell’s illustrations slip delicately between the terrific pain the prince sees and the fragile joy the bird helps him deliver." -Teacher Librarian
"Russell’s elegant, glowing, art nouveau–influenced illustration, which recalls both Maxfield Parrish and Arthur Rackham, fits the tale perfectly. A work of adaptation that it’s hard to think could be bettered."
"Lovingly, beautifully crafted. Arguably the most beautiful graphic album of 2012. My regard for this wonderful book comes from deep within my soul, and I recommend it without hesitation or restraint."
-Tony Isabella, Comics Buyers Guide
"Skillfully using perspective, angle, and shadow, Russell portrays the emotions and humanity of the Happy Prince while never letting readers forget that he is a statue. A lovely adaptation." -School Library Journal
"A visual delight, capturing the writer's blend of wit and sentimentality with Russell's usual fine-lined grace. As apt today as it was when Wilde first crafted it in the Victorian Era, The Happy Prince is a lovingly depicted parable of Christian charity that deserves to be revived in this era of celebrated selfishness."
-Bill Sherman, Seattle Post Intelligencer
"The timing of this book couldn’t be better, speaking as it does to what the citizens of a well-off community value, and how they shirk social responsibility. The lesson is plain, yet sensitively and elegantly rendered."
-The Onion/AV Club
"Smartly adapted by master craftsman Russell. Conveyed with great heart."
-Richard Pachter, Miami Herald
"Well worth the wait. As usual, Russell's art is transcendent, transporting the reader to a world where even trash dumps have their own textured, fine-lined beauty. This story of heroic altruism and the gap between rich and poor is of special relevance today, where it's reflected in the Occupy Wall Street movement and presidential politics." -
Minneapolis Star Tribune/Scripps Howard News Service
"Russell’s sensitive, belle epoque–inspired artwork brings the story to life with a matched sensibility that makes other comics adaptations look clumsy."
-Publishers Weekly starred review
"Russell’s illustrations provide impressive visions of the descriptions the prince and the swallow share. All together, it makes for a feast for the eyes of many of the extremes of our world — artistic accomplishment (the gilded statue), natural beauty (the bird and the reed), faraway lands (the swallow’s Egyptian dreams), and the ups and downs of home (those living among us who need help)."
– Comics Worth Reading
An outstanding piece of work, well worth your time and money, whether you’re a Wilde fan, a Russell fan, or just want to try something new."
– Comics Waiting Room
"The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde Vol. 5: The Happy Prince is another triumph for both Russell and NBM. Russell’s art is never one to be missed, and The Happy Prince is no exception. Highly recommended, for readers of all ages."
– Read About Comics
Russell manages to capture the tone of the fairy tale perfectly, neither letting Wilde do most of the heavy lifting nor leaving so much out that the original author seems ill-served. Would that all literary to comic adaptations could be so graceful."
– Robot 6
8 ½ x 11, 32pp., full color jacket hc: $16.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-626-6