The story of Aladdin and his magic lamp has been making the rounds since the 1700s.
It’s been told and retold in a number of ways – in children’s flip books, in games and in movies such as Disney’s 1992 cartoon adaptation, cementing this likeable rogue and his timeworn tale in our collective consciousness.
It’s no wonder, then, that Ian Edgington’s take on Aladdin, which I received as a Valentine’s Day present, is such a fascinating work.
This graphic novel recounts Aladdin’s story, not with the pastel shades and puffy pants we’ve come to expect, but a more mature style.
Edgington recognizes that Aladdin’s a fantasy piece – a sword and sorcery romp through an exotic locale, and he’s written it as such.
In this story, Aladdin is not so much a rogue as a rascal. He’s a morally ambiguous liar and cheat, down on his luck and fresh out of money, and that’s when Qassim, the wicked vizier, comes to him with an offer he can hardly refuse.
Naturally, when Qassim double crosses the boy, Aladdin escapes and taps the power of the fabled lamp, invoking the Djinni who comes to his rescue.
Mind you, this Djinni looks nothing like a bouyant, blue balloon with the head of a turnip. It’s all horns and fangs and scalding red flesh – an elemental, primal force that would sooner eat you than grant you your three wishes.
What ensues is a grand adventure across the deserts and oceans, rendered with a masterful hand and a nice, healthy dose of plot exposition. It culminates with Aladdin embracing his destiny as a descendant of a magical race, and the ending is a happy, but atypical one.
The art in Edgington’s Aladdin is darkly beautiful.
I’ve always been a fan of digitally painted images, and the artists – Patrick Reilly and Stjepan Sejic, both adepts at their craft, breath more than just new life into this ancient tale.
They have created a whole new world that complements Edgington’s narrative, incredibly detailed characters, and scenes so cinematic and arresting they practically pop out of the pages of the graphic novel.
The Djinn, especially are gorgeous, and the summoning sequences, rife with chains, prayer strips and occult sigils, just scream awesome at you.
So how, then, can’t I fall in love?