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Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Four-color opera

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Although P. Craig Russell has left a mark on mainstream comics, he has never been one to shy away from broadening the scope of what comics can do. Alongside the superheroes, he’s found a place for the classics, first by adapting the Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde and then turning to his love of opera, adapting both The Magic Flute and Salome to comics. All of this was in preparation for what he considers his most important work, Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

On the stage, this epic tale takes 15 hours to perform, Russell is attempting to synthesize it into 14 issues. It begins in "The Rape of the Gold," as the Rhinemaidens can only watch as Love is cursed and the Gold they protect is carried off, even as Woton tricks the giants into building Valhalla.

Russell’s artistry was meant for this project; his skill lies in his depth. He puts minute detail into every panel, and his work has a classical feel rather than what one expects from a "cartoonist." His reverence and passion for his subject is clear. A timeless tale gets a new shine. Highly recommended.

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