GRAPHIC NOVELS

Lon Chaney Speaks

Pantheon. (Graphic Novels). Oct. 2020. 160p. ISBN 9781524747435. $25. Rated: Teen+. biog
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DEBUT In his first graphic novel, Dorian pays tribute to silent film legend Lon Chaney (1883–1930), nicknamed “the man of a thousand faces” for his uncanny ability to alter nearly every detail of his appearance. As a young man, the pantomime skills and empathy for outsiders ingrained in Chaney by his deaf parents help him gain success as a vaudeville performer. Following the acrimonious end of his first marriage, he sought work in the fledgling motion picture industry, where his skill as a makeup artist enabled him to play an enormous range of roles. With the support of his second wife, Hazel, Chaney spent years maneuvering the punishing studio system, appearing in nearly 100 films before finally achieving massive stardom for his sensitive portrayals of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923 and the titular role in The Phantom of the Opera in 1925, just five years before his untimely death.
VERDICT Dorian evokes Chaney’s personality in richly detailed scenes made even more impressive by the fact that an introductory note stresses that his subject’s extreme aversion to divulging details of his private life necessitated that this be “an imagined biography…inspired by real events and research.”

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