Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slaine Vol. 3

Speaking of reprints, in other news, I finally tracked down a copy of the third Slaine collection a few months ago. This, The King, was one that Diamond never saw fit to deliver to my local comic shop, along with Mega-City Undercover, which was released the same week. Fortunately, I found a copy at The Great Escape in Nashville in November. This is a really spectacular shop, worth driving a hundred miles out of your way to visit. The book reprints close to forty episodes which originally saw print between 1985 and 1988.

Much as Pat Mills has a story to tell, the star of the book is Glenn Fabry, who illustrated about half the episodes. When these episodes originally ran, it felt like there was one delay after another pushing back new Slaine stories. Fabry drew just a handful of the pages in the "Tomb of Terror" storyline, a 15-part diversion from Mills' ongoing goal of reuniting the warrior with his tribe. The bulk of "Tomb" was illustrated by David Pugh, and was accompanied by a pencil-and-dice role-playing supplement with each new episode. The RPG pages, with artwork by Garry Leach, are included as a bonus feature in the back, making this one of the cutest little extras that Rebellion has presented.

After "Tomb," there was a break of about nine months before Mike Collins and Mark Farmer took on art chores for a seven week, Zodiac-related serial. Then Fabry got the reins for the twelve-part "Slaine the King," which originally ran in two chunks over five months. Ever behind on his deadlines, and probably deep in debt with his local Dick Blick for all the ink he was using, Fabry's amazing work was worth the wait at the time and just looks better on these pages. The definitive Slaine artist is probably McMahon to me, but Fabry's a very close second.

It was originally thought that Fabry would be illustrating the classic "Horned God," to appear in the standard black-and-white with a color centerspread, shortly after the completion of the Judge Dredd epic "Oz" wrapped up in 1988. As 2000 AD changed paper size and increased its color pages, it was eventually decided that Simon Bisley would paint the epic instead. A little more than a year after the conclusion of "Slaine the King," four last black and white Fabry episodes appeared as a teaser strip and a three-part miniseries. These served as a taster prelude for the forthcoming "Horned God."

Around the same time, Mills and Fabry collaborated on a color newspaper strip called Scatha which was truncated by The News on Sunday's imminent failure. You can read more about that and see some sample episodes over at Bear Alley. Fabry also contributed a color pin-up of Slaine's enemy Megrim as a taster for his unproduced color epic which ran on the back cover of prog 524. It might have been frustrating twenty years ago waiting for each new storyline to get going, but it really resulted in some great comics. Even if you don't like the character of Slaine, this book is certainly recommended for Fabry's glorious artwork. Hopefully Diamond will treat your store better than mine and get you a copy quickly!

(Excerpted from Thrillpowered Thursday, February 05, 2009.)

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