Russell, P. Craig. The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, Volume 5: The Happy Prince (New York: Nantier Beall Minoustchine, 2012)
The first four volumes of this series (reviewed here) were delightful, and this tale (representing Russell's Opus #66) is no less so. Comics Bulletin notes that "Based on the evidence shown in this slim but breathtakingly beautiful volume, Russell is still producing material that is strikingly gorgeous," and observes that "wonderful as Wilde's story is, the real star here is Russell's wonderful art:"
For anyone who knows the man's work, you will recognize his ornate and pastoral style immediately. As always, Russell's art is filled with a sensuous attention to beauty in its depiction of gorgeously rendered forms. Russell's cartooning shows a master's understanding of just how much detail to include in a scene.
"Russell's ultimate achievement in this book," the piece continues, "lies in the way that he somehow gives life to the statue of the prince:"
I keep paging though this book trying to discern how Russell manages to pull off this trick and actually manage show the statue's emotions, but the truth of that skill eludes me. He somehow magically uses judicious camera angles and shading to emphasize feeling, and brilliantly makes the emotions come alive. I guess that proves Russell's artistic mastery and his remarkable ability to compose a scene perfectly.
The masterful art of P. Craig Russell makes this book special. In his use of classical techniques and allusions, perfect use of camera angles, and a thoroughly intelligent approach to page design, Russell shows that he is still one of the greats of comics art -- fan favorite status be damned.
Publishers Weekly writes that "Russell's sensitive, belle epoque-inspired artwork brings the story to life with a matched sensibility that makes other comics adaptations look clumsy," and Scripps News concurs, opining that "As usual, Russell's art is transcendent, transporting the reader to a world where even trash dumps have their own textured, fine-lined beauty." Comic Book Daily refers to Russell as "A meticulous artist who doesn't do anything without a reason:"
Wilde's work is wondrously descriptive in The Happy Prince and so Russell had an easier time around then the earlier four volumes but it's his classic and timeless art style that elevate and enhance this story so well.
Only one of Wilde's tales ("The Fisherman and his Soul") remains to be adapted by Russell for the as-yet-unscheduled sixth and final volume of this series; I would love to see an omnibus edition.
See publisher NBM's page for the series for more.