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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Book Of The Month: Slaine - Book Of Invasions (Volume 1)

I have always enjoyed dipping in and out of 2000AD, the weekly British sci-fi comic, ever since I picked up the first issue - with free frisbee - in 1977.

Like many people I am a big fan of the title's flagship character - Judge Dredd - but the character that brings me back more often than not, and has had a major influence on my roleplaying games over the last couple of decades, is Slaine.

Slaine Mac Roth is a muscular, tattooed, wandering Celtic barbarian, in the style of Conan, who travels a mythical Ancient Earth fighting Lovecraftian demons and monsters; often with his snivelling, untruthworthy, dwarven sidekick Ukko.

The Books of Invasions was a major story arc that I think began in 2003. Slaine was settled in as High King of Ireland with a lovely wife and a grown son and things were good... until the evil Fomorian fish demons returned to try to usurp Slaine and claim Ireland for their own.

Things go from bad to worse when they are followed by a band of demon-bound Atlanteans who also seek to reclaim Ireland as one of their former holdings.

2000AD creator and first editor Pat Mills' writing is like poetry, it trips off the page and into your brain. He gives the demons a wonderful, evil, condescending air that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

But what sets The Book Of Invasions apart from earlier Slaine stories is the breathtaking artwork of Clint Langley.

Probably an acquired taste, the only way I can described it is to say: try to imagine a photo story from a teen magazine, but the photographs are all strapping barbarians and demons, electronically doctored in Photoshop. It is a stunning blend of pure digital art and photo-manipulation, with vivid colours and gallons of atmosphere.

It's mindblowing, beautiful, intricate and absorbing. When you hit a full-page picture - or even a double-page spread - in your reading you just have to stop and take a moment to study the masterpiece in your hands.

Until I picked up a copy of 2000AD in Smiths several years ago I had never seen anything like it, but now I can't imagine Slaine depicted any other way.

This 96-page hardback, full-colour, book collects the first two 'chapters' of the epic story and leaves us on a mighty cliffhanger. The last 10 pages of the book are full-page examples of Cliff Langley's art, including some cover illustrations from 2000AD during this story's run.

1 comment:

  1. Tim,

    I totally agree with your review of the new Slaine books.
    I have been a fan since the first story in 2000AD (what do you expect from and Robert E Howard fan), but the new photo-manipulation artwork is just stunning!

    I am going to drop a link to this piece in my new blog over at:-

    http://pulp-zen.blogspot.com/

    cheers
    David
    www.dialpforpulp.com

    ReplyDelete

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