Elric: Volume 1: The Ruby Throne by Michael Moorcock adapted by Julien Blondel, Didier Poli and Robin Recht (graphic novel).

This hardcover graphic novel, ‘Elric: Volume 1: The Ruby Throne’, is translated from a French original by Julien Blondel, Didier Poli and Robin Recht. Long before the Anglo-Saxons, the French, like the Japanese, accepted ‘comics’ as a respectable art form so there is indubitably a pool of talent across the channel. Some of the best is on display in this lush adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s first Elric story.


Elric is the last emperor of Melniboné . He’s already quite famous as he’s been around for some time in the genre and no doubt one day they will make a bad film about him for fans to spit on. In the meantime, he has been well served by the graphic novel industry and even by the cheap comics. However, this is the best version so far, at least according to Moorcock himself, in the introduction. Who could disagree with that?

The plot: Elric the albino, drug addict sorcerer sits on the ruby throne of Melniboné and his cousin Yrkoon hates him, believing him unworthy to be emperor. Yrkoon’s sister, Cymoril, is Elric’s consort and true love. There’s a feast in the palace and Yrkoon is taunting the emperor as usual when loyal Dyvim Tvar enters and tells them that spies have been found inside the walls. It turns out that some humans are about to invade the Dragon Isle and will arrive in a couple of days.

The Melnibonéans, you see, are not human but of an older race that long ago made alliances with the dark gods of Chaos. They are evil, sadistic, depraved, decadent and there’s plenty of evidence for this in their art. Many panels feature someone being tortured in the background, usually a naked woman. It’s not a graphic novel for children or the squeamish. I have some reservations about this, having been bought up in the age of the Comics Code Authority. Sex and violence in graphic form, as opposed to romance and action, make me uncomfortable, like a children’s pop-up book about Jack the Ripper. However, this is due to my early conditioning by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and all those other guys and should not affect younger readers. In fact, the sadism is justified here as it is demonstrating the true character of the Melnibonéans. It still makes me wince though.

The plot develops nicely and I don’t want to spoil it. The script is good, the art is beautifully done and it’s clear that a lot of work went into it. This is a very handsome edition and although there are only 46 pages of actual story, the rest of it being introductions and sketches etc, it’s well worth the money. I look forward to volume 2, winces and all.

Eamonn Murphy

October 2014

(pub: Titan Books. 172 page graphic novel hardback. Price: £10.99 (UK), $12.9 (US), $14.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78276-124-2)

check out website: www.titanbooks.com


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