Graphic novel publishers SelfMadeHero’s return to our literary review 100 Pages of Horror with a brilliant batch of books including this excellent comic adaptation of some of M.R. James classic chilling tales entitled Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary: Volume 1.
Considered by many as the master of the English ghost story these graphic reimagining’s adapted by John Reppion and Leah Moore take the shape of four stories each illustrated by a different artist and collected together to be published to coincide with the 80th anniversary of James’s death.
Moore and Reppion have collaborated on a number of projects taking on classic characters like Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes and other horror authors including H.P. Lovecraft all for SelfMadeHero and within the introduction by horror fiction writer, editor and critic Ramsey Campbell it is explained that the pair tried as hard as possible to stick to the original stories all of which lent themselves wonderfully to a graphic novel interpretation although the original collection was published in 1904.
Opening with Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book drawn by Aneke, a Madrid-based artists who has worked on comics Red Sonja and Vampirella among other things, we are told a chilling story of an English tourist whose inability to see the supernatural signs all around him on a visit to an ancient Cathedral at the edge of the French Pyrenees leads to an encounter he will never be able to forget.
My personal favourite stories follow Lost Hearts and The Mezzotint both of them disturbing, unnerving and subtly scary. Illustrated by Kirt Buss who worked on Channel 4’s The Thrill Electric and Geek and Sundry’s D&G based show, Critical Role, Lost Hearts starts with a young orphan being taken into the home of a friendly relative however when the dark secrets of the house are revealed to him he realises his new home is a hellish trap.
The Mezzotint is an extremely visual tale perfect for transportation into the graphic novel art form wonderfully brought to life by Lebanon based Fouad Mezher who works in comics and children’s books. When a museum curator acquires a curious print of an unknown country manor he thinks nothing of it however he discovers the picture moves with each new viewing and someone or something is inside.
The last story The Ash-tree, drawn by video game artist Alisdair Wood who worked on Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne as well as various other titles, tells the tale of another country house this time one cursed long ago when the owner accused a woman of witchcraft and had her sentenced to death. Detailing the various denizens and their gruesome demises it seems no one will be able to stop the mark of death put upon the home emanating from the ominous Ash tree.
An essential purchase for M.R James fans and lovers of horror comics Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary: Volume 1 is an eerie read which wonderfully evokes the spirit and spookiness of the original stories renewing them for a new audience who will hopefully be inspired to seek out more works by M.R James after having read this great book.
Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary: Volume 1 is out now published by SelfMadeHero (64pp, colour, paperback, rrp £9.99) and would make a great Christmas present. You can read the back catalogue of our 100 Pages of Horror book reviews by following this link http://lovehorror.co.uk/?s=100+pages+of+horror