Just when I needed some reading for Halloween a perfectly timed package arrived on my door step from the sensational SelfMadeHero containing Volume 2 of their brilliant M.R. James adaptations, Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary.
Although hugely influential on writers from Ruth Rendell to H.P. Lovecraft to Neil Gaiman I was unaware of this brilliant author until last year’s book of tales which contained some ghostly goings on in four fear filled stories by the author transferred into a glorious graphic novel by authors John Reppion and Leah Moore.
Moore and Reppion return in Volume 2 along with some amazing illustrators to bring us a quartet of shorts from James’s huge repertoire of extremely English supernatural stories rich in atmosphere and suggestion rather than gore and shock value.
Opening with an enlightening introduction by novelist and scriptwriter Jason Arnopp which makes comparisons between M.R. James work and the popular J-horror genre of films both of which draw on dread as their main focus for fear we move straight into Number 13 a taunt shocker about a mysterious room that keeps appearing and disappearing during a Danish historian’s stay.
Illustrated by Greece-based George Kambadais the simple story builds brilliantly with visions of horror occupying the unlucky numbered room during the night and driving the protagonist potty.
Second is Count Magnus beautifully illustrated by Abigail Larson which follows a travel writer who becomes obsessed with the dark secrets of the ancient nobleman’s past and is inexplicably drawn to his mysterious mausoleum where three locks hold him entombed. As you can guess the locks don’t last long and the hero is relentlessly chased by the Count and his hideous companion till he can take no more.
Adapted twice for BBC TV already Oh, Whistle And I will Come To You, My Lad, illustrated by Al Davison, is one of James’s best-known stories and you can see why when you read it in this graphic novel. Featuring an annoying naysayer of the paranormal as its central figure the unlucky gent comes across a long buried whistle in a strange tomb which when blown summons something from the other side. The panels of his pursuit across the lonely beach in the moonlight are wonderfully evocative and enough to give anyone the creeps for sure.
Last of all is The Treasure of Abbot Thomas which details the unfortunate expedition for the hidden fortune of an old Abbott who had left a series of cryptic clues behind along with something far worse guarding his gold. With drawings by Meghan Hetrick, whose work has appeared in Marvel and Vertigo titles it is a great closing story to a brilliant collection containing all the elements that make James’s work so well loved.
Thoroughly recommended not only for fans of the great author and ghost stories in general but all horror comic fans Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Volume 2 serves as both a brilliant adaptation in its own right as well as a guided gateway to the original works which I myself will most definitely be seeking out.
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Volume 2 is out now and available from Amazon and Waterstones as well as in EBook form. Find out more and order directly from SelfMadeHero here: http://www.selfmadehero.com/index.php. Read our review of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Volume 1 by clicking on the title and read the rest of our 100 Pages of Horror by clicking the HERE.