Sunday, March 6, 2005

Looking To The Stars: Old And Peculiar

It's funny how on the slowest comic week in some time, I wind up spending $50 dollars at the comic shop. Of course there was a logical reason for it.

I finally got a special order I made. And just in time for St. Patrick's Day too. It was a green-and-white Family Guy t-shirt that reads "I'm not drunk. I'm just wicked tired from staying up all night drinking." There's $17 right there.

And then in addition to the $8 for my regular comics (most of which you can read reviews for today), another $13 went for a very special item. A comic adaptation of my favorite Neil Gaiman short story of all time. A little story called Shoggoth's Old Peculiar.

Shoggoth's is a simple story, about a young man from Texas on vacation. For reasons which were a lot more apparent before he got there, he decided to go on a hiking tour of the English seaside. He happens into a small town called Innsmouth and... well, at this point those of you who are fans of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft are laughing knowingly.

Innsmouth is the name of the town where many of Lovecraft's infamous Cthulhu stories took place. This is, we find out from two of the locals our hero meets in the local pub, the Innsmouth for which THAT Innsmouth was named. They then proceed to complain about Lovecraft's writing, his use of adjectives and how he got everything wrong. After that... well, that would be telling. Suffice to say it is quite amusing for all fans of British humor and Lovecraft.

Everyone has the stories they love even if they aren't the best thing every written, simply because something in that story appeals to us. That's how I feel about the original Shoggoth's. It's not the best thing Neil Gaiman ever wrote by a long shot, but it is by no means a bad story. And I've mentioned the story to other Gaiman aficionados as my favorite, much to their disdain. It isn't serious enough. The whole thing reads like a bad attempt at a Monty Python skit written by gamer fanboys. And there's no cute goth chicks!

I don't care. Even if this edition cost me more than the original Smoke and Mirrors book I first read the story in, I don't care. Even if it is a novella with illustrations instead of the comic I expected, I don't care. Even though the wood-cut like illustrations are not the best I've ever seen and the best illustration is the one on the cover that looks like the eyes of Cthulhu or two pints of bitter viewed from above. I still don't care. It was worth every one of my $13 of $50 dollars.

Another eight of the fifty dollars were due to a double-size Knights of the Dinner Table #100 which was worth every penny. The issue is a milestone, in all senses of the word. Not only is the issue special in that it is the hundredth issue of the longest-running gamer comic in the world, it is the first to be printed on magazine-quality paper. It also has some of its' features printed in color for the first time.

Best of all, new readers can pick this one up with no worries of having to keep up with a storyline. All the on-going stories, with the exception of one, have been put on hold. And even the one on-going story...role-player Bob and his girlfriend Shelia trying to teach Bob's niece and nephew about gaming... is easily accessible to new readers.

Finally, a shout out for a comic that didn't cost me anything but was still one of the best reads all week. Though the comic has come to an end, author Aeire of Queen of Wands is now publishing the comic seven days a week, doing a director's commentary on the stories behind each individual strip from beginning to end. If you missed out on this comic the first time, do yourself a favor and check it out now.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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