Theatre, as we know, it is in a state of flux and so it feels the publication of this graphic novel is a gamechanger. Adapted by seasoned author Cavan Scott with artistry by Jose Maria Beroy, it offers a fresh new perspective of a well-established show.
Before reading, I admit to being slightly apprehensive. To take on one of the biggest West End draws seems risky, especially given this one has such an iconic musical score. I felt it wouldn’t translate well onto the page. How can the magnitude – the drama – of the theatrical Phantom be replicated on a page? How could that compete with the majesty of the musical experience?
Well, firstly, it doesn’t need to compete. The musical and the graphic novel are different experiences and should be approached as such. Officially authorised by Lloyd Webber and his team, this novel is not trying to rival its inspiration but to enhance it, and it does that well. The graphic novel offers a new, different way to enjoy the story.
Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera musical (which in turn is based upon Gaston Leroux’s book of the same name) the Titan Comics creatives tell the story of Phantom through a previously untapped medium, possibly reaching previously untapped audiences through it.
True to the musical, the illustrations are set in the Paris Opera House. It’s 1881 and the cast and crew of a new production are being terrorised by the Phantom of the Opera, who lives in the depths of the building. The Phantom, disfigured and outcast, conceals himself, leading a lonely life. However, upon encountering beautiful soprano Christine Daaé, he tumbles into obsessive love and stops at nothing to make her the star of the show.
The musicality of the stage production is evident throughout the graphic version. Speech that is being sung is denoted by musical notes in a textually energetic way, while the whole dialogue has pace. By a third of the way through, I was invested and immersed.
The illustrations are excellent. The subtle plays between light and dark add the tension needed to make this a successful read, and the attention to detail is exceptional. Even after reading, you find your eye wandering the illustrations just for the fun of viewing them. There are close-ups, zoom outs, panoramas and variety of character angles so the reader isn’t bored as they go through. These switches also contribute to the rise and fall of tension within the plot.
My only criticism – if you could call it that – is that the frames are visually quite busy in some of the smaller illustrations which that can detract from the flow of reading in a smaller space. However, as with most art, this could be down to personal preference and does not stop the reader from immersing in the plot. This version of the Phantom of the Opera in graphic novel form is beautifully drawn, transferring the characterisation and production qualities of the stage show.
Written by: Cavan Scott
Artwork by: Jose Maria Beroy
Based on Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd Webber
The Phantom of The Opera Graphic Novel is available from all your usual booksellers. We would of course encourage anyone buying this to support their local independent shops. Find your local independent store here
Further information can be found at Titan Comic’s own website, via the below link.