Monday, 13 July 2009
Almuric was another fantastic serial that appeared in the early issues of Epic. It's adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert E. Howard, and is his great unfinished masterpiece, as, although the story has been consistently in print since the '30's, it's not the completed novel Howard would have presented, had he lived.
There are sections he probably would have taken out, and the whole thing ends quite abruptly in sequences that obviously would have been altered had time allowed.
That said, it is still one of REH's great works, and stars one of his best characters, the modern day barbarian hero Esau Cairn, who travels to the lost world of Almuric to find his true destiny.
It belongs to the genre of 'interplanetary romance', just like Burroughs' John Carter Of Mars and the Gullivar Jones comic series. I'm bound to say, by the way, Esau Cairn kicks both their arses.
Almuric the strip was originally going to run as a four part serial in Marvel Premiere, under the so-so title Warrior Of The Lost Planet. Scheduling problems caused the piece to be delayed, so that by the time Epic was about to launch, editor Archie Goodwin, looking for a sword & sorcery story for his new anthology, was able to snap it up.
Thank Crom for schedule's, as Epic was absolutely the right place for Almuric. Roy Thomas, by now well used to adapting Howard, contributed a fast-paced, exciting script, I think wisely dumping the section of the book where Esau first arrives on Almuric and spends months living alone in the wilderness, regressing to a blissful state of barbarism. Although this is a fascinating part of the novel, particularly when you realise Howard is actually writing about himself, it would've slowed down the comic.
Tim Conrad, as well, was never better here, clearly having done his homework. The whole thing looks like a 1930's pulp illustration, the kind of fantasy a small boy from Cross Plains, Texas, dreaming of adventure & sin, would thrill to. And the switch to colour is breathtaking.
Here's the first episode.
Dark Horse collected the whole story in this trade, but you'd probably have to get it on ebay now. Better to get issues 2-5 of Epic, as they're full of lots of other great stuff.
And the novel's still in print too.