When a reclusive unicorn discovers that her kin have been disappearing and she may be the last unicorn in the world, she leaves her forest to find out where the other unicorns have gone. This simple premise begins The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, a short novel that follows this magical quest along many creative twists and turns.
I read The Last Unicorn a couple years ago. When I found that there was a graphic novel adaptation, I was curious to compare the two. I enjoyed both versions and discovered that they both have qualities that make them worthwhile. The original novel is quite dark but has thought-provoking themes and clever narrative and dialogue that bring the characters to life. Beagle’s novel is simultaneously simple and intricate. But perhaps that is what the best fairy tales are like—using a predictable formula of unicorns, wizards, princes, and enchantment to explore complex themes and scenarios.
Beginning in 2010, Peter S. Beagle adapted his story into a six-issue comic with art by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon. These issues were then compiled and released as a graphic novel in 2011. The Last Unicorn graphic novel captures the same charm, mystery, and magic that enchanted me about the novel. This surprised me because I have often found graphic novel adaptations unsatisfying. The artists and the author in this story, though, united the art and text with skill so that the two elements became a greater whole instead of lessening the quality of one or the other. The art is beautiful and illuminates Beagle’s clever dialogue and captivating narrative. In fact, the colorful images helped lighten the dark tone of the original novel, which is unusual because I normally find that graphic novels darken stories rather than brighten them. My only slight criticism of the art is that the depiction of the unicorn is reminiscent of anime—with her big eyes and long waving mane—and does not match the style of the other characters and artwork.
Whether you’re looking for a fun graphic novel or are already a fan of The Last Unicorn, I think you will find this graphic novel adaptation a satisfying read. So take a leap and enjoy the mystery, poetry, magic, and beautiful artwork of The Last Unicorn!