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Classic Thrillpower From The Archives:Necronauts

With Hallowe’en fast approaching we’re staying on a horror theme,with this forgotten gem,the sadly short-lived,occult thriller Necronauts.

Written by prolific script droid,Gordon Rennie and artwork in monstrous monochrome by fellow Cal-Hab droid,Frazer Irving,the story centres around four real-life occult adventurers,author and believer,Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,mystery collector Charles Fort,escapologist extraordinaire Harry Houdini and keeper of secrets,H.P. Lovecraft!

Houdini(aka Eric Weiss)has found a way to journey into the afterlife and is attempting to contact the dead,however each trip exhausts the great magician mentally,causing him to become physically ill.

Unfortunately,the occult explorer has caught the attention of some darkly demonic denizens of the spirit world,who have been crouching unseen for eons in the corners of their reality,waiting for a chance to make it through to ours,turning the Earth into a charnel house.

H.P.,or Howard Phillips Lovecraft is not a stranger to the thin veil that separate these realities and agrees to travel to the spirit realm with Houdini.

Meanwhile,Conan Doyle and Charles Fort discover that ancient evil forces from the other side,have human servants and are already breaking through to our dimension-hot on the trail of the amateur sleuth and the mystery buff!.

Can Fort and Conan Doyle hold back the demonic horde on the physical plane,whilst Houdini and Lovecraft attempt to slam the door shut in the spiritual world..?

Necronauts(Prog2001,1223-30,13Dec’00-21Feb’01).Gordon Rennie(w).Frazer Irving(a).

  1. Cover art (Prog1226,24Jan’01) feat. Conan Doyle and Charles Fort holding back evil forces trying to break through from a dark dimension!Frazer Irving(a).
  2. Harry Houdini has pulled off his greatest “trick”-he can cross over to the spirit world,but needs to use his skills as an escapologist to get back again!Frazer Irving(a).
  3. Meanwhile,attending a seance in England,Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gets a message from the afterlife,warning of an ancient evil waiting to enter our reality,turning our world into a living Hell!
  4. Horrified by this turn of events a member of the seance group rends his flesh apart.The mangled corpse then reveals that due to Houdini's trips to the spiritual plane,ancient forces of evil have found a way to get through to our reality!
  5. As Houdini prepares to take another trip to the spiritual plane,Conan Doyle and Fort discover a device that allows them to stay in contact with the magician,and also learn of the beings known variously as the Great Old Ones,Dark Gods,Sleepers in the Void,etc.who are waiting to cross over to the physical plane,using Houdini's soul as transport.
  6. A vision of Earth under the rule of the Dark Gods..nasty!
  7. Conan Doyle and Fort keep the forces of darkness at bay on the physical,as Houdini and Lovecraft try to prevent an incursion from the spiritual plane.
  8. Creepy cover art(Prog1230,21Feb’01)by Greg Staples,as Houdini struggles to free himself from the grasp of ancient gods desperate to escape their dark dimension.
  9. Houdini realises that he must stay on the spiritual plane,locked in an eternal battle with the Great Old Ones,sacrificing his human form in the process.
  10. Lovecraft,doomed to write of visions beyond the veil of reality,is driven insane from his contact with the Dark Gods,becoming another casualty of their nightmarish war against evil!Fort and Conan Doyle visit the grave of Eric Weiss(Houdini),saddened but secure in the knowledge,that the great magician continues to fight his unending conflict with those ancient horrors that lurk in the darkest recesses of our imagination!

Spare a thought for this brave Necronaut,on cold dark nights when the shadows seem alive,as he pilots his spiritual plane around the edges of reality,holding back the tide of terror just waiting to break through and feed on your soul…!

 A review of Tharg’s Terror Tales Presents… at the Graphics Novel Reporter:

While the majority of 2000AD titles targeting American readers have focused upon highly recognizable talents who have worked for Marvel and DC such as Moore, Andy Diggle and Jock, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Brian Bolland, and Dave Gibbons to name but a few, Tharg’s Terror Tales signals the second publication spotlighting artist Frazer Irving, an honor not afforded any other 2000AD writer or illustrator (Storming Heaven: The Frazer Irving Collection was published in 2007). Not only does Tharg’s Terror Tales collect Irving’s first full-length black and white strip for 2000ADNecronautsbut also his first professional color work with A Love Like Blood. Rounding out the volume are shorter five-page strips of Irving’s early efforts alongside Sunday newspaper-format comics originally published in Metal Hammer magazine.

Although Irving had worked before with a colorist, A Love Like Blood signifies his first solo coloring efforts employing digital tools in Photoshop. While the narrative of pretty vampires versus werewolves has become commonplace with film franchises such as Underworld and Twilight, this 2000-2001 work predates them as writer John Smith weaves a romantic tale of horror between a male vampire and female werewolf. Visually, Irving’s color work is rough and somewhat distracting in places as he wrestles with a diverse palette of hues to correspond with his utilization of fractured and angled panel layouts. Signature magentas and turquoises appear and are much better conveyed when Irving dials it back with the Reefer Madness and Mars Needs Mates strips. Both strips represented a shift in his artistic process and approach, and the results are apparent on the page.

as a supplement to the Storming Heaven Collection (which also includes A Love Like Blood), this volume is a welcome chronicle of Irving’s award-winning 2000AD years that built his reputation in the industry and led to collaborations with authors such as Morrison, Joe Casey, David Hine, Kieron Gillen, Matt Fraction, Ray Fawkes, Phil Hester, and a variety of others. Engaging tales with a glimpse at rare Irving art, Tharg’s Terror Tales is a significant move into the American graphic novel market.

More.

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You have only three chances to catch a tour kick-off show with The Necronauts this week. You won’t find ‘em in a nearby fourth room soon, so try not to blow it between now and Friday.

Yucca Tap Room (29 W. Southern, Tempe) / Wednesday, Feb. 16 @ 9pm / with Dry River Yacht Club, Snow Songs, and Female Trouble / Free / 21+

Rhythm Room (1019 E. Indian School, Phx) / Thursday, Feb. 17 @ 7pm / with Dry River Yacht Club and Lisa Savidge (in its own CD release show, cover includes CD) / $10 / All Ages

Red Room (100 E. Congress St., Tucson) / Friday, Feb. 18

Like so many British comic book creators, Batman and Robin and Xombi artist Frazer Irving first earned a reputation through work in 2000 AD, the long-running anthology that launched characters including Judge Dredd and Halo Jones.

This Halloween, two of Irving’s early 2000 AD stories see print in one collection via Tharg’s Terror Tales, a collection of “Necronauts” and “A Love Like Blood.” Newsarama has your first look at the US-only EC-esque cover, seen here.

Available to pre-order now (also available through Amazon.co.uk, although this is a US print so I am unsure about UK availability).

COMICS: Legendary & Grant Morrison's ANNIHILATOR #1 First Look & Review

Annihilator, the new graphic novel six issue sci-fi adventure series from Legendary Comics and  Grant Morrison has hit and it’s not the typical superhero comic.  Annihilator follows washed-up Hollywood screenwriter Ray Spass. While caught in a downward spiral of broken relationships, wild parties and self-destruction, he gets his shot at one last blockbuster before fading into obscurity.  Ray has to join forces with his own fictional creation, Max Nomax, in a reality-bending race to stop the entire universe from imploding… without blowing his own mind in the process. Ray’s mind is literally the most dangerous place in the universe. Judge Dredd and Necronauts fans should be excited as Frazer Irving has brought the story to life with some amazing artwork. The artwork, similar to the story, is not your standard superhero fare either. You won’t find tights or spandex in Annihilator, which is a nice change of pace. I’ve included some of the artwork

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We’ve been talking about Grant Morrison’s comic series Annihilator for a while now, but with Issue #1 arriving today, it’s time to hear from the creator himself! Check out this video in which Morrison discusses what fans can expect to see from the new release by Legendary Comics.

Annihilator is an original graphic novel odyssey from the extraordinary mind of Grant Morrison. The six-issue series is a subversive sci-fi adventure like no other, brought to life with stunning artwork from Frazer Irving (Judge Dredd, Necronauts).

Synopsis:
Washed-up Hollywood screenwriter Ray Spass is caught in a downward spiral of broken relationships, wild parties, and self-destruction. Out of luck and out of chances, he’s one failed script away from fading into obscurity. Little does he know he’s about to write the story of his life.

As his imagination runs rampant, Ray must join forces with his own fictional character Max Nomax on a reality-bending race to stop the entire universe from imploding… without blowing his own mind in the process.

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Well Tharg’s Halloween offerings have sprung up ready for pre-ordering and it is a Hellish crop you’ll want to get your hands on.

The main tome of terror whistling down your thrillpipe is Cradlegrave- the collection the fans demanded until poor Robo-Keef had to give in. It brought ex-readers back itno the fold, it was former chief lackey to Tharg David Bishop’s pick of 2009 and it got Chris Weston to exclaim:

Judging by the first six episodes Cradlegrave  could very well be the best thing John has ever written, and the only thing that stops me from wishing I had drawn it is the sickening knowledge that Bagwell is doing a far better job on it than I could’ve.

This is one of those rare moments when the right script went to the right artist.

And he should know, when he and John Smith teamed up on Indigo Prime it led to a similar stunning alchemy.

You can see a script to page overview at 2000 AD Review.

Anyway, get your pre-orders in now, who needs a decent night’s sleep anyway? You can sign yourself up for a future slice of terror via Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

The other treat is from our US partners Simon and Shuster who are packaging our thrills up for that side of the Pond and you get a double-header: Tharg’s Terror Tales Presents… Necronauts and A Love Like Blood. As mentioned earlier, Necronauts is a stunning period tale of Lovecraftian madness, starring HP Lovecraft alongside Arthur Conan Doyle, Houdini and Charles Fort brought to you by Gordon Rennie and Frazer Irving. The lucky few will have snatched up the gorgeous graphic novel when it was released but it is long out of print and going for silly numbers if you can find it all, so this is a welcome return. With it is John Smith’s A Love Like Blood also with Frazer Irving, who craft a story that did Underworld right before Underworld was even a flicker on the silver screen of someone’s imagination.

This isn’t yet listed on Amazon but when it is we’ll post again I’m sure, consider this a warning, so you can mentally prepare.

A review of Tharg’s Terror Tales Presents… at Comics Bulletin:

Tharg’s Terror Tales is essentially British publisher 2000 AD’s version of the classic anthology horror comics like Creepy and Eerie. 2000 AD is best known for post-apocalyptic comics like Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. Because of that, and because of the quasi-si-fisscene on the cover, I was expecting some sort of futuristic comedy horror set in roughly the same universe. I was wrong.

The eponymous Tharg the Mighty is only the alien horror host, and the stories inside are pure weird fiction joy. There is a little tongue-in-cheekiness, but that is all in the true-to-style asides by the horror host. The comic is split into two stories; Necronauts and A Love Like Blood, and a few bonus backup stories.

Necronauts teams up Houdini, Doyle, Lovecraft, and Fort. While that seems like pure genre fan fiction, Houdini actually did personally know both Doyle and Lovecraft. Only the Charles Fort connection is tenuous. And instead of some hokey team-up, writer Gordon Rennie plays it straight and fits the encounter into their real lives to make it plausible. Houdini stays too long in one of his escapes and bridges the gap to the world of death, where he finds something horrible. Doyle, in one of his séances, learns of the threat to Houdini, and together they gather Fort and Lovecraft to do battle with the monsters. Houdini plans to go again into the void, and Lovecraft will serve as his guide through the Dreaming realms he knows so well.

The story is just insanely cool. As a fan of Doyle and Lovecraft and a former subscriber to Fortean Times, this story was just a treat.

A Love Like Blood is such a clichéd story I didn’t think anyone could write it again and keep me interested. But John Smith managed to spin the Romeo and Juliet as Vampire/Werewolf loves trope with enough new twists that I was fascinated. The young couple on the run was my favorite park of the story, as hatred of their love was enough to unite the thousand-year feud between the vampire and werewolf clans. I have to say the ending was a bit weak, but otherwise this was a real solid yarn.

As a bonus, there are a few short stories at the end that are riffs on old ’50s cautionary tales like Reefer Madness, or the terrors of the hippie and metal sub-cultures. But now the reefer madness causes cannibalism, and Woodstock is loud enough to wake the dead — literally. These stories ranged from a few pages to a few panels, but all of them were clever and good for a laugh.

More.

Tharg’s Terror Tales Presents Necronauts and Love Like Blood is now listed on Amazon.com for pre-ordering and, while the cover has yet to be released (the one above is from the earlier Rebellion edition of Necronauts), I have been assured that the cover is “Real old, old school,” which is enough to get this droid fizzing round the intake value.

Good news. The superb but hard to find Houdini mash-up graphic novel, Necronauts, will be reprinted as part of a collection, Tharg’s Terror Tales Presents Necronauts and Love Like Blood

, on October 18, 2011.

From the deepest, darkest recesses of the Nerve Centre vaults, the eerie alien editor of 2000 AD known as the Mighty Tharg presents some horror-tinged tales in time for Halloween.

In Necronauts, world famous escapologist Harry Houdini must join forces with novelists H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and phenomenologist Charles Fort to defeat an unholy force which has followed him back from a place beyond human imagination…

A Love Like Blood sees a vampire prince and a reckless female werewolf fall in love, despite the fact that their tribes are engaged in an age-old war. Does love still conquer all when fangs are involved?

Necronauts is written by Gordon Rennie with illustrations by Frazer Irving. This new “Tharg” collection can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Cover art is not yet available.

Wild About Harry, a blog devoted to Houdini, has a review of the Necronauts graphic novel by Gordon Rennie and Frazer Irving:

Set on Halloween Eve in 1926, the story finds Houdini, Conan Doyle, Lovecraft, and Charles Fort pinned inside Houdini’s New York home by demons inadvertently summoned by Houdini’s experiments exploring the boundaries between life and death. As Fort and Doyle battle the physical creatures in the halls of 278, Lovecraft and Houdini venture into the netherworld to try and defeat the awakened “Sleepers.”

Considering the time frame, it’s not really a spoiler to reveal that Houdini dies in this story. This makes it unique among printed Houdini fiction in that it suggests an alternate version of his demise (which, of course, must be covered up). It’s all good stuff. Hardeen even puts in an appearance, although for some reason he’s bald and sports a handlebar mustache.

Unfortunately, this is now not an easy book to find at a reasonable price. It is listed on Amazon, but prices are upwards of $40. However, I did find a listing for it at UK retailer 2000 AD for £7.99. That might be the most affordable way to go.

Those interested in picking up a copy can’t go far wrong with the Necronauts book (it is large and really nicely put together), however, availability in the US is patchy. So it is good to hear that, as far as we can tell, 2000AD’s US publishers Simon and Schuster will be releasing a new collection in time for Halloween: Tharg’s Terror Tales Presents… Necronauts/A Love Like Blood. So please don’t pay $40 for it now wait a while and you can get it cheaper with even more lovely Frazer Irving art in a vampire/werewolf love story (that pre-dates Underworld) by master of the macabre John Smith.

It is currently not listed on Amazon or S&S’ own site but we’ll announce it closer to the release date, so you can get your Halloween thrills ahead of time.

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