Sunday, September 25, 2011

Slaine the Wanderer

Someone asked me the other day if I, fan of sword & sorcery and barbarians that I am, was familiar with Slaine, the long running Celtic Barbarian comic from the UK. I told them what I'm about to tell you, that I had read some Slaine stories back in his early days in the British weekly comic 2000 A.D. but that I had lost touch with the character over the years.
Intrigued, I did a quick internet search and found that there were quite a few collections of the Slaine stories available, and looking at some of them I could tell that the character had undergone some interesting changes since I'd last encountered him. I asked my local comic shop owner, Cliff "Two Houses" Biggers, to order a couple of the Slaine books from his distributor. The first to arrive was the most recently published, Slaine the Wanderer. I gave it a read and have to say I enjoyed it tremendously. Dark humor, quirky characters, amazing artwork, and over the top violence. What's not to like.
If you're not familiar with Slaine, he's a sword & sorcery hero, obviously influenced by Conan, but based in Celtic myth. Created by writer Pat Mills, Slaine adventures in the Tir na nOg (the land of the young) fighting demons, wizards, monsters, mercenaries, and the other usual S&S bad guys. When I was reading Slaine back in the 1980s, the character was drawn in a fairly standard comic book style. I was vaguely aware that fan favorite Simon Bisley had taken the character to new artistic heights later on, but I wasn't reading a lot of fantasy, comic book or otherwise, in those days. I'll be checking them out in reprint form though, I can tell you. I'm hooked.
The current art on Slaine is by an artist named Clint Langley, who combines painting, photography, and digital art into a visually stunning style. There are the occasional panels that look a bit too much like retouched photographs, but for the most part Langley's style merges everything into an impressive whole. I like it a lot.
Slaine the Wanderer contains four blood-drenched stories, my favorite of which is Slaine The Exorcist, which is a darkly funny Gothic extravaganza full of demons, pitchfork waving townsfolk, premature burials, and plenty of ax-wielding action.
Anyway, two-thumbs up for Slaine the Wanderer. I'll be back for more.


Julian Parker said...

Another beautiful luxury package from Rebellion- hardback, £16.99 (but £5 off, currently in FP). This features The Gong Beater (1635-38), The Smuggler (1662-65, wasn't this called "The Amber Smuggler" in the progs?), The Exorcist (1709-12) and The Mercenary (1713-14, 2011). It looks incredible, as Langley's work always does in the format- and I think he's done his now traditional "tidying up and adding stuff"; certainly The Gong Beater seems to have some splash pages I may not have seen before. I say "may", as I haven't had a chance to compare with the progs yet.

Perhaps the biggest change to this edition is the involvement of John Hicklenton. He get's his name on the cover before that of Clint Langley, and contributes a number of double-page spreads for each of the stories, that serve as endpapers of a sort, and as usual with his art, just make you want more.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Thanks for the info, Julian. I will check that out!