Sunday, 11 December 2016

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Volume 1 Review (Leah Moore, John Reppion)

The husband and wife team of John Reppion and Leah Moore (Alan Moore’s daughter) collaborate with four artists to adapt four of MR James’ spooky stories into comics: Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book, Lost Hearts, The Mezzotint, and The Ash-Tree. And unfortunately it’s not very good. 

The stories are full of demons, witches, haunted pictures and sorcerers, which sounds like juicy and exciting stuff, but, presented in MR James’ Edwardian storytelling style, becomes oddly dull and stodgy. I thought a comics adaptation would liven up the material - I’ve really tried with MR James numerous in the past but can’t get along with his writing - except Moore/Reppion are very faithful to the language and structure of the stories so they still have that same plodding pace and unmemorable way to them. 

Worse is that James is one of those writers, like HP Lovecraft, who never completely described the horrors that featured at the heart of his stories - they were always vague and left up to the reader’s imagination. Here we see what they’re describing because comics is a visual medium so the most powerful parts of their stories are rendered on the page as unremarkable horror tropes. 

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is aptly named in that these are dated tales - some of the art is decent, particularly Fouad Mezher’s on The Mezzotint, but this is a very boo-ring horror comics anthology to read.

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