Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Complete John Thunstone Reviewed

   When James A. Moore and I were writing Blind Shadows, the two writers we kept coming back to as influences were Karl Edward Wagner and Manly Wade Wellman. Though I had created my Occult Investigator, Carter Decamp, many years before I discovered Wellman or his own Supernatural Sleuth John Thunstone, when it was time to bring Decamp into the novel, Wellman and Thunstone were definitely on my mind. I'd spent the last several years tracking down all the Thunstone stories at some not inconsiderable expense, including the near legendary Carcosa Press volume with the George Evans illustrations, and the two often hard to find Thunstone novels.
   But you don't have to do all that hunting because the folks at Haffner Press have just published a hefty (almost 650 pages) hardback called The Complete John Thunstone, and believe me it is well worth your time. Every short story is here and both novels. Plus, the aforementioned George Evans illustrations, reprinted in all their crisp, black and white glory on quality white paper. I own several Haffner books and this is one of the nicest yet.
   While most fans of horror and weird fiction are familiar with Manly Wade Wellman's other phantom fighter, John the Balladeer, his earlier character, John Thunstone, has often been neglected. Trust me, if you like  creepy stories, you want this book. Where John the Balladeer was a man of the southern mountains, John Thunstone was, for the most part, a man of the city. Most of his adventures take place in and around New York. Thunstone is a big, burly man. Well read, extremely well educated and intelligent, but also a surprisingly savage fighter when things turn ugly. Thunstone will kill if he has to. Where the other John carries a silver-stringed guitar, Thunstone carries a sword. Not a man to be messed with. His original adventures took place in the shadow haunted pages of Weird Tales between 1943 and 1951 and he fought demons, ghosts, vampires, and far less readily identifiable supernatural menaces. Not to mention Wellman's signature pre-human race, The Shonokins. Wellman returned to the character in the 1980s for one last short story and two novels.
   I'm very pleased to see these stories made available again in an affordable but high quality package. Hey, I already had everything in the book except the new introduction by Ramsey Campbell and I bought it as soon as it came out. The Complete John Thunstone gets my highest recommendation. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, finer comic books stores or directly from the publisher.



Paul R. McNamee said...

I have mine - it's gorgeous! Can't wait to read some of the content!

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Yeah, it's a great package, and of course the stories are wonderful.