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  1. #1
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Default Recommendations: Elric of Melnibone?

    After having read Roy Thomas and P. Craig Russell's work on Elric in Epic Illustrated and in the Marvel Graphic Novel, I'm definitely hungering for more. I see that there's A LOT of Elric out there, what with the original novels, the many First Comics mini-series, the Topps series, and the current Boom! series.

    The question is, which ones are more worthwhile than the others? Can I expect to find quality similar to or surpassing what I've read from Thomas and Russell thus far? Also, what's in the Graphic Novel published by First? Is it reprinting one of the Epic Illustrated stories, or is that a new team-up between Thomas and Russell? It looks like they part ways after that point, and I wonder if the magic continues without that team-up.

    And how are the novels? Is there much more to be gained from reading them, or can you capture most of the magic from reading the adaptations?


    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Say WHAT?!?!?!? FanboyStranger's Avatar
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    The First books are adaptations of Moorcock stories. There's three out of print tpbs-- Elric of Melnibone, Sailor on the Seas of Fate, and Weird of the White Wolf-- plus adaptations of "The Vanishing Tower" and Stormbringer, which are only available as issues. Great adaptations by Rasically Roy with exceptional art by P Craig Russell, Michael T Gilbert, and George Freeman. Well worth tracking down.

    The Topps comic is an adaptation of Stormbringer by P. Craig Russell. It was eventually finished at Dark Horse. There is a scarce tpb that goes for extravagant prices.

    The DC comics are all new material written by Moorcock himself. Michael Moorcock's Multiverse features three looks at the Eternal Champion saga from different characters, one of which is Elric with art by John Ridgeway. (The other stories are the "Second Ether" characters by Walt Simonson, and Sir Seaton Begg, the Metatemporal Detective by Mark Reeve. They all come crashing together in the finale, which is all Simonson.) If you're not already familiar with the Eternal Champion saga across its many characters, this book doesn't make a lot of sense. If you are familiar with the EC series, this is actually a vitally important piece that ties everything together. Elric: Making of a Sorceror is a story that takes place before the events of Elric of Melnibone. It sort of sets the stage for the "dream lives" that will pay an important part in latter Elric stories, especially the last final triology that starts with The Dreamthief's Daughter. It's among the best Elric material, and it features gorgeous Simonson art.

    Finally, last year's Elric: The Balance Lost by Chris Roberson and Francisco Biagini is flat out excellent. Roberson plotted the book with his friend Moorcock, then ran with it on his own with Mike's blessing. Elric is in the title, but it actually incorporates elements from all the Eternal Champion series, including Corum, Hawksmoon, the von Beks, the Second Ether, the warriors on the edge of time, Tanelorn, etc. Really a remarkable synthesis of everything that Moorcock has written and probably the clearest distillation of Eternal Champion series. There's three tpbs from BOOM!, but individual issues shouldn't be too hard to find.
    Last edited by FanboyStranger; 01-26-2013 at 10:52 AM.

  3. #3
    Modus omnibus in rebus Roquefort Raider's Avatar
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    Not to be missed is a Frank Brunner piece published in Heavy Metal (november 1979); it adapts the ending of Elric of Melniboné. Brunner's interpretation is gorgeous.



    Conan the barbarian #14-15 (reprinted in Giant-size Conan #5, in the Essential Conan and in the reprint volumes by Dark Horse) also features Elric. Since this team-up with Conan is an actual "new" Elric story, it has a charm all its own.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    The Pacific and First series are great (I think First reprinted the Pacific issues when inherited the property.)

    I loved the novels as a teenager but now I'm older I find I can't stand Moorcock's writing at all.

  5. #5
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Thanks for all this advice! I definitely need to check out that Heavy Metal story.

    So skip the novels?

  6. #6
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    It may seem a non-sequiter, if you are getting into Moorcock, check out the Neil Gaiman short story One Life: Furnished in Early Moorcock. As for Moorcock's work itself, Bad Wolf's experience seems quite common, with people getting into Moorcock young, but it not aging well with them.

    I got into Moorcock rather late. I tried a few non-Elric books in high school on the recommendation of friends, but (as I mentioned elsewhere) I was getting more into Leiber's Fafhrd and Grey Mouser and ended up glossing over Moorcock and onto other things without ever having a period of fascination with him as a youth. After experiencing Talbot's Luther Arkwright stuff, I kind of backended into Moorcock's stuff again with the whole multiverse and opposing forces of Order and Chaos (a theme I was much familiar with from Gary Gygax assimilating it into the D&D mythos-as well as Starlin riffing on it for Marvel).

    I have most of the series piled up in my to read pile of paperbacks, and have sampled several of them. Many of the early volumes of Elric are more collections of short stories than novels per se, so you can sample them in smaller doses if you choose.

    I haven't read a lot of the comic adaptations and have just in the past 2 years started picking them up when I see them-I have parts of all of the First and Pacific series, a few complete but most still missing issues here and there-I have the Elric: Making of a Sorcerer trade (and that series in is cheque to be reviewed in my S&S review thread soon), and picked up the Boom! Series but have only read the first handful of issues, which I enjoyed but wanted to wait until it was all done and I could read a few of the characters in it I was unfamiliar with in their own context before diving into the whole series again. However, as is wont to happen, I have not got around to it yet.

    So I wouldn't skip the novels per se. I would maybe get the first Elric volume and try a few of the short stories, see how it reads for you. Moorcock is not for everyone, but those that enjoy it seem to really dive in, and there is a lot there.

    What I would skip though is the terrible, terrible music he made with his band Hawkmoon. I had a bunch on cassette and never bothered to replace it when CDs took over as the dominant format of commercial music. Haven't missed it or had a desire to hear it ever again.

    -M
    Last edited by MRP; 01-26-2013 at 05:41 PM. Reason: typos
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  7. #7
    Modus omnibus in rebus Roquefort Raider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Thanks for all this advice! I definitely need to check out that Heavy Metal story.

    So skip the novels?
    I would just stick to the important ones first.

    Elric's saga was at first a series of short stories and novelettes. They tell the story of a doomed emperor who starts by overseeing the destruction of his own empire and eventually destroys ...(Oops!!! Spoilers!!!)

    Those stories are collected in a few books: The weird of the white wolf, the vanishing tower, bane of the black sword and Stormbringer.

    Moorcock shortly thereafter wrote two "prequel" books, Elric of Melniboné, which is essentially an origin story, and sailor on the seas of fate, which chronicles his adventures in between the previous book and "Weird of the white wolf". Since "Sailor..." has a relatively vague timeline and consists of independent stories, one can imagine that Elric could have had many more adventures during that time; that's where most (if not all) of the later Elric stories are set.

    After that you have more Elric stories that vary in quality but that are definitely not required reading: The fortress of the pearl, revenge of the rose, plus stuff like the Dreamthief's daughter, the Skrayling tree and the White Wolf's son that make use of several characters introduced in other series set in the Moorcockian multiverse. Your mileage may vary.

    One of my favorite short stories is "Elric at the end of time", in which the hero meets the characters from "An alien heat", a brilliantly iconoclastic and funny novel set in the far, far future and in which Elric mistakes the narcissistic, capricious, child-like and immensely powerful future denizens of Earth for the Chaos Lords he serves.

    So in a nutshell, there's a lot in the Elric series; but the "core" saga is found in the four books mentioned above, and I'd definitely stick to those at first. They're like the Star Wars movie compared to the rest of the trilogy (with Empire strikes back and Return of the Jedi standing in for "Elric of Melniboné" and "sailor on the seas of fate"), the second trilogy and the expanded universe.

    Comic-book wise, I just got a look at the Elric miniseries that DC put out in 2004, with script by Moorcock and gorgeous artwork by Simonson (thanks to mrp, who sent me a copy). It's very highly recommended!!!
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  8. #8
    Cute.5 Aaron King's Avatar
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    I've only dabbled in Moorcock, but comic-wise, I enjoyed Michael Moorcock's Multiverse and Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer. Both feature Walt Simonson on art, which is part of the draw.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roquefort Raider View Post
    Not to be missed is a Frank Brunner piece published in Heavy Metal (november 1979); it adapts the ending of Elric of Melniboné. Brunner's interpretation is gorgeous.
    I think I remember reading somewhere that Brunner's was Moorcock's personal favourite of all the various comic book versions.

    One of my favorite short stories is "Elric at the end of time", in which the hero meets the characters from "An alien heat", a brilliantly iconoclastic and funny novel set in the far, far future and in which Elric mistakes the narcissistic, capricious, child-like and immensely powerful future denizens of Earth for the Chaos Lords he serves.
    That's a story I look forward to reading some day, because I think the Dancer at the End of Time books are amongst the very best things Moorcock ever wrote. In general, I think a lot of his Eternal Champion fantasy stuff was churned out at speed and perhaps that's why it hasn't aged well for some readers. I think his work on the Dancers, stand-alones like Gloriana, and especially on the last few Jerry Cornelius novels is much superior to that on Elric, et al. Elric was a great character, but of the Eternal Champions fantasies I actually think the Hawkmoon and the Corum books were better written.

  10. #10
    Modus omnibus in rebus Roquefort Raider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    I think I remember reading somewhere that Brunner's was Moorcock's personal favourite of all the various comic book versions.
    I wouldn't be surprised, although Michael Whelan taps the same vein design-wise. I'm fond of Robert Gould's version myself, although it's closer to Klimmt than to traditional '70s fantasy art. (A numbered print of Gould's "The white wolf" is still in my bedroom (well... in the walk-in closet), much to my wife's chagrin)!

    That's a story I look forward to reading some day, because I think the Dancer at the End of Time books are amongst the very best things Moorcock ever wrote. In general, I think a lot of his Eternal Champion fantasy stuff was churned out at speed and perhaps that's why it hasn't aged well for some readers. I think his work on the Dancers, stand-alones like Gloriana, and especially on the last few Jerry Cornelius novels is much superior to that on Elric, et al. Elric was a great character, but of the Eternal Champions fantasies I actually think the Hawkmoon and the Corum books were better written.
    Agreed on all counts. The Eternal Champion books were pretty formulaic, and although it was exciting to connect the dots in the beginning, the novelty eventually wore off. It should all have ended after The Quest For Tanelorn. (I did like the dragon in the sword, though).

    Dancers at the end of time is one of the few books that had me laughing out loud. I loved that series. I mean, how can't you like reading about a fellow named Werther de Goethe, whose goal in life is to show that he is truly the most miserable man alive? Moorcock may have indulged at times in commercial material, but things like "Dancers..." and the sheer oddity that are the Jerry Cornelius non-stories show that he's a true man of letters.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    I love Whelan (have 3 of his art books and a couple signed prints) but Gould's covers are the iconic ones for me.

  12. #12
    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roquefort Raider View Post
    I wouldn't be surprised, although Michael Whelan taps the same vein design-wise. I'm fond of Robert Gould's version myself, although it's closer to Klimmt than to traditional '70s fantasy art. (A numbered print of Gould's "The white wolf" is still in my bedroom (well... in the walk-in closet), much to my wife's chagrin)!

    I remember when the trade dress went from Whelan to Gould. Much grumbling amongst my friends. Ultimately I liked it. Whelan's Elric didn't look frail enough.

  13. #13
    Say WHAT?!?!?!? FanboyStranger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    That's a story I look forward to reading some day, because I think the Dancer at the End of Time books are amongst the very best things Moorcock ever wrote. In general, I think a lot of his Eternal Champion fantasy stuff was churned out at speed and perhaps that's why it hasn't aged well for some readers. I think his work on the Dancers, stand-alones like Gloriana, and especially on the last few Jerry Cornelius novels is much superior to that on Elric, et al. Elric was a great character, but of the Eternal Champions fantasies I actually think the Hawkmoon and the Corum books were better written.
    Oh, I totally agree that the Jerry Cornelius books are much better than Elric. When it comes to the Eternal Champion stuff, it's the Von Beks for me: The War Hound and the World's Pain and City in the Autumn Stars. Those two stories are utterly fantastic, and remain my favorite Moorcock stories. They also must have had a big impact on Neil Gaiman as a lot of the ideas in Sandman are prefigured here-- The Mittlemarch/The Dreaming, the seductive Lucifer who doesn't tempt people but you want to please him, etc.

  14. #14
    Cute.5 Aaron King's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FanboyStranger View Post
    Oh, I totally agree that the Jerry Cornelius books are much better than Elric. When it comes to the Eternal Champion stuff, it's the Von Beks for me: The War Hound and the World's Pain and City in the Autumn Stars. Those two stories are utterly fantastic, and remain my favorite Moorcock stories.
    War Hound is definitely my favorite Moorcock. I just picked up the Von Bek hardcover with the other stories and planning on getting into it soon. The first sentence of War Hound is maybe my favorite first sentence of any book:

    "It was in that year that the fashion in cruelty demanded not only the crucifixion of peasant children, but a similar fate for their household animals, that I first met Lucifer and was transported into hell; for the Prince of Darkness wished to strike a bargain with me."
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    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slam_Bradley View Post
    I remember when the trade dress went from Whelan to Gould. Much grumbling amongst my friends. Ultimately I liked it. Whelan's Elric didn't look frail enough.
    That and they don't stand out much from other sword & sorcery that was out there. The Gould style shaped how I viewed everything while I was reading the books. A sort of art deco (I think that's the right term), with everything in a pale, washed-out tone.

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