All the clues are here, the protagonist who is nothing more than a truck, the creatures escaping from childhood drawings, the mad mismatches of size. Are we seeing the effects of a hallucinogen or is this simply the memory of a child’s game, a dream without limits. It’s almost as if there is no difference.
The text is sparse and sets a type of rhythm that forces you to tackle the book quickly. That seems to be the way to experience this book, quickly. You can go back later and go over each page and savour the images, but first time round you should rush through it and allow the madness to blur, experience the book at the speed of imagination.
Perhaps drugs do nothing more than remind us, however imperfectly, of what it was like to be a child.
Great wee book available from Amazon here.
At 128 pages in black and white it has contributions from a few names that are probably better know now. The cover is less than inspiring and the paper quality different from the later, much more attractive books.
The contents are almost universally excellent. Nevermore delivers nine adaptations of poems or stories from Poe, a touch of biography from Laura Howell and an introduction by film director Roger Corman. If, like me, the stories are like old friends, either through Mr Corman's, often loose, adaptations or by reading the originals then you will have seen these stories many times and in many forms. The old Warren Comic, Creepy, produced some excellent adaptations of Poe back in the seventies but they were usually fairly faithful to the original story. There was little or nothing new added.
|D'Israeli art form Murder on the Rue Morgue|
There is some superb artwork on show. Steve Pugh's work on the Pit and Pendulum along with D'Israeli's "Murder on the Rue Morgue” and John McCrea's atmospheric use of blacks and shadows in "The Facts in the Case of Mr Valdemar" stand out among excellent company.
There really isn't a dud in this collection, but then these are the stories of a master. This is one of the earliest books from Self Made Hero, the cover is uninspired and the paper, although good quality, is coated and glossy. Their later books use a more pleasing matt paper and have that pleasant book smell that makes them a pleasure to read. Still, some great artwork and adaptations worthy of old Edgar.
Montague Rhodes James, born 1862, was an English scholar, Provost of King's College, Cambridge and until his death in 1936 of Eton School.
He was an historian, specialising in the medieval period. Although his academic work continues to be well-regarded, it was his hobby, the writing of Ghost Stories, which has become his more public legacy.
|Alisdair Wood art from The Ash-Tree|
The horrors came from cursed manuscripts and creatures that live in the shadows. James allowed his readers to fill in gaps in his narrative, inevitably creating something much more horrible than anything he could have written. Working by implication and suggestion, James' more or less created the 'less is more' technique for horror and influenced a whole generation of writers from H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith to Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell.
The adaptations in this book, while well told and beautifully illustrated add little to the original stories. They are heavy in text and I'm afraid add little to the stories other than the illustrations. For someone familiar with the original stories the book is pleasant reminder, but for a newcomer to M. R. James I do not think it will give the full flavour of his writings and a quick purchase of one of the many editions of his complete Ghost stories would be a better purchase.
Finally for this catch-up is Logicomix. A thick graphic biography of the philosopher Bertram Russell and the search, in the first half of the twentieth-century, for the fundamental principles of maths. Not a very promising premise for a Graphic Novel perhaps, but this is one of the most enthralling books I've read for quite some time.
Russell was born in 1872 and died in 1970. He made huge contributions in the fields of Maths, Philosophy and History and was a prominent social campaigner and activist. While a member of a prominent aristocratic family, he was at times a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, going to jail at one time over his anti-war activities during the first World War. He taught Ludwig Wittgenstein, among the most influential philosopher of the 20th century.
This book focuses on Russell's work as a Logician, and his search for the basic principles on which mathematics is based. It covers the family drama, and perhaps trauma of his early life, his college years and his vigorous challenge to intellectual orthodoxy along with his equally vigorous and enthusiastic love life. It features most of the major figures of Philosophy in the twentieth century and their interaction with Russell. In summary it’s about stuff I didn't know I was I was interested in and yet I was. A perfect demonstration of the power of comics to communicate complex and important topics and at the same time a dramatic and enthralling story of one of the most interesting men of our times.
At a time when our national life is becoming less and less rational and truth is becoming less and less important, it's useful to look back at a time where there were people who were attempting to bring rationality and truth to all aspects of life.