Oscar Wilde told André Gide that he had put his genius into his life, and only his talent into his writing. It’s a typical Oscar Wilde thing to say, especially since he’d all but stopped writing at that point, and if you’ve read about Oscar Wilde, you’ll know it’s best to take anything he says with a grain of salt. Because, you know, hello to the self-dramatizing! But I have to say, in reference to this remark: although I read about Oscar Wilde all the time, I almost never read anything he’s written. Sometimes I’ll get in a mood and just tear through my big pink Complete Works, but by and large, if I’m in an Oscar Wilde mental place, I’m rereading Gary Schmidgall or H. Montgomery Hyde or whatever. So yeah, Oscar Wilde may have had a point.
That said, I love P. Craig Russell, and when I saw that the Graphic Novel Challenge has a mini-challenge for January to read graphic novel adaptations of classic works, I thought, hey, perfect opportunity to check out Russell’s adaptations of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales. My library had the volume with “The Devoted Friend” – where a woodland creature tells other woodland creatures about a miller who was such a terrible friend to a poor little gardener boy that the gardener boy eventually died – and “The Nightingale and the Rose”, where a nightingale kills herself to get a red rose for this guy who wants to give it to his true love, and then she scorns him utterly and he gives up love forever.
I felt so fond of both Russell and Wilde when I was reading this. Russell draws really lush, gorgeous comics – must take him ages! – and Oscar Wilde, bless him, was exactly like Oscar Wilde was. Which is to say, revoltingly overdramatic, and in the next breath poking fun at the thing he was just emoting over. So he waxes maudlin over the nightingale giving her life to make the rose, and two pages later the student who wanted the rose in the first place gets rejected by the object of his affections and says:
What a silly thing Love is. It is not half as useful as Logic, for it does not prove anything, and it is always telling one of things that are not going to happen, and making one believe things that are not true. In fact, it is quite unpractical, and, as in this age to be practical is everything, I shall go back to Philosophy and study Metaphysics.
And then the student goes off and reads a book. It’s so Oscar Wilde.
Can I make a confession? It’s been weighing heavy on my soul. When I was in high school, my good friend’s dog had puppies, and as I had just then started to be interested in Oscar Wilde, and was spending all my time telling her the new facts I had learnt about him, she named one of the puppies Oscar Wilde. He was very goofy and bouncy, and she used to call him “Mr. Wibbles” as a nickname. She’d say, “Oscar Wilde! Hey Oscar Wilde! You’re my Mr. Wibbles!” So now – um. Well, sometimes now – please don’t judge me – when I am feeling exceptionally fond of the real Oscar Wilde, or when I see a picture of him unexpectedly, and all my love for him rushes to the surface, it unbalances me and I think of him as Mr. Wibbles.
This is the very real danger of a time machine, y’all. Suppose someone invents a time machine, and I use it to go back in time and meet Oscar Wilde, odds are I’d see him and become seriously overset and call him Mr. Wibbles by accident. And then Oscar Wilde would be like, I hate you. And then, who knows what would happen? I’d be really sad! In my pain and misery, I might go way back in time and stomp on a butterfly, out of spite.