Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.251: Yragael/Urm & Lone Sloane\Delirius

Its something of an understatement to say that these two books - bought for me by my parents during a day out to Windsor in the late-1970s - pretty much consolidated a radical re-evaluation of the fantasy genre that had started a few months earlier when I read my first Michael Moorcock novel (The Knight of Swords). I was about 11 at the time. These were two early instancs of what today we would term as graphic novels, illustrated by Philippe Druillet. I has never quite ready anything like Yragael/Urm (and still haven't); the influence of Moorcock is here, the imagery is phantasmagorical, and the story virtually incomprehensible - to my 11 year old mind, that spoke of profundity. Whether or not that was or is the case, the tales of Yragael and his desendent Urm demonstrated to me at that young age that something very different could be done with the fantasy genre.

All of that aside, A Lovecraftian tone looms large in both these works: Yragael/Urm begins with a story of cosmogenesis seemingly involving monstrous gods and vast, Lovecraftian tracts of space and time; said monstrous gods also seem to be manifest in the monolithic architecture of the world, and at one point the protaganist Yragael encounters some sort of cosmic being, leading to the appearance of a massive Cthulhu-like entity. Urm, ostensibly a sequel to Yragael, is perhaps more overtly Lovecraftian insofar as Urm himself - possibly Yragael's son - is mislead into facilitating the return of Lovecraftian dark gods into the world. At least, I think that's what it is about...

Lone Sloane/Delirious is more in the line of classic space opera - except that early on eponymous hero the is cast into a void where a sleeping black god lurks; eldritch symbols beyond human comprehension or articulation are evoked, and Loan Sloane ends up wandering around the cosmos on a weird space-throne, making statements like 'I have talked with demons and at times gods have granted me audience!'. Amidst trans-dimensional hopping, other cosmic beings and weird gods are also encountered. Lovecraft also gets a mention in the introduction by Jacques Bergier.

Whilst the Cthulhu Mythos is definitely not explicit in either of these tomes, the mood of cosmic pessimism and the stylistic intimations of a Lovecraftian universe that permeate both books certainly speaks to Lovecraft's influence - unsurprising given that Druillet was also a contributor to the issue of Heavy Metal dedicated to Lovecraft. Whilst neither of these books are, then, pure Lovecraft, if you are looking for something very different with a definite Lovecraftian timbre, they are certainly worth investigating.

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