Friday, September 18, 2015

"...They were willing to weather horrible fates over decades for incremental gains." Storms at Sea review

The book publisher Flesk has turned out a few books which sit in my library: their collection of Al Williamson's Flash Gordon comic books & strips; their collection of Mark Schultz's Xenozoic comics; and Bruce Timm's art book Naughty and Nice (timid review here). Recently, they released another Mark Schultz product, Storms at Sea. Another comic book product?

No. Storms at Sea is a something like a picture book for adults. It tells a single 75 page story with Schultz's beautiful black & white illustrations on the left-hand pages and the accompanying story printed in neat type on the right-hand pages.

In this story, a man named Griff walks in on a murdered scientist and a beautiful woman, Asha. Asha proceeds to explain the scientist's death by crafting a yarn about a secret society who discovered a forbidden island of monsters and harnessed its secret power, using it to even conquer the stars.

The story makes no bones about its references, at one stage very clearly introducing the plot of King Kong as one of the secret society's actions. It's a mash-up of Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft: secret societies, giant monsters, lost civilizations, arcane rites, fantastic elements and predictions of the Earth's destruction.

I mentioned Flesk's other publications at the outset because this seems very much like their other products - not only because of Schultz, but because Storms at Sea feels very much like an art book. It feels as though Schultz had an art file of very interesting pictures which Flesk wanted to publish; rather than simply making an art book, Schultz threw in a framing sequence and text story which would join these images together. Thus, there are pages of giant monsters, lost fantasy lands, science fiction explorations and end of the world destruction all fused together by this plot. However this came to be, I don't care - I like Schultz's art and I like Schultz's stories. It's not entirely satisfying as a novel as it's mostly exposition (needed to tie the images together) and has no conclusion, but as an art book with bonus material, it's very good. Approach it as such.

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