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Friday, March 27, 2009

This Week's Suspended Animation - Robert E. Howard's Myth Maker


Robert E. Howard’s Myth Maker, published in 1999 by Cross Plains Comics, 64 pages, $6.95.

If the comics medium is an art form, (and I believe it is) then one has to assume the existence of some “masterpieces” of sequential entertainment. Understand, I don’t throw that term around willy-nilly, if I ever have at all. I’m about to, however.

In 1999, a publishing company called Cross Plains Comics produced what is, in my mind, one of the most entertaining, innovative and downright beautiful works in comics. With the (achieved) intentions of bringing attention and doing justice to the works of Robert E. Howard, Myth Maker was a collaboration of amazing writing and breathtaking art work, all accomplished by some of the most talented professionals in the industry.

Here’s a rundown of stories and art styles that fans will encounter within: “Men of The Shadows” and “Dream Snake” by Tim Sale and Matt Hollingsworth, “Spear and Fang” by Richard Corben and Eric Hope, and “Dermod’s Bane” by Kelley Jones, Laurie Smith and George Freeman.

Long-time comic book writer Roy Thomas adapted the stories, and he and Sale pulled them all together in a unique and engrossing fashion. I have never been more intrigued with the storytelling in a comic book. There are moments of high action, engaging supernatural sequences, and chilling terror in this one work.

Additionally, fans will enjoy pin-up art by the likes of Rafael Kayanan, John Bolton, Michael Kaluta, Mark Schultz, Steve Lightle and Colin MacNeil, a bit of history on comics adaptions of Howard’s creations by Thomas, and a short bio on Novalyne Price Ellis, author of a well-known Robert E. Howard memoir, by Rusty Burke. All things considered, this is something that no comics art fan, comics history fan, or for that matter, Howard fan, should be without. It truly is....(wait for it)....a masterpiece.

Robert E. Howard’s Myth Maker is recommended for adult readers due to violent imagery. Find it at comics shops, and online retailers and auctions.

Review by Mark Allen