Readers of The Lost Art

Nightmares and Fairytales vol. 3: Rue Royale

July 23rd, 2009

Nightmares and Fairytales 3: Rue Royale


Writer: Serena Valentino

Artist: Crab Scrambly

Reviewer: Louise


Synopsis from Amazon:

“This tale belongs to the dead and the house they dwell in. Madame Lalaurie inflicted unspeakable acts upon her slaves at 1140 Rue Royale, and now their tortured souls are seeking revenge on the house’s new occupants: an elderly woman named Victoria and her young niece Rebecca. Rebecca must fight for their lives as she learns of the house’s horrifying past, encounters monstrous nuns with a deadly secret in the attic and becomes possessed by one of the spirits in her new home.” 


“Nightmares and Fairytales 3: Rue Royale” is a creepy little Gothic tale featuring a haunted house, a young woman tormented by spirits, and a bunch of monstrous nuns. Set in Victorian New Orleans, as all good ghost stories should be, it tells the tale of one young woman’s fight to regain her sanity and her life. 

Though somewhat derivative – most ghost stories are, after all – “Rue Royale” is quite a twisted little dark gem. It has some quite original features and a gripping story with some very nasty twists – the fate of one of the servants is enough to make you really wince. The artwork is good, very creepy (it reminded me a little of Roman Dirge) and fits the story very well. There are some nasty little surprises in the art if you look closely; watch what the nuns are doing behind the lead character’s back when she visits the nunnery… Though at some points the story does become a little convoluted, overall it’s a good book and an entertaining, if creepy, little read. 


Paperback: 176 pages

Publisher: SLG Publishing; illustrated edition edition (15 April 2007)

ISBN-10: 1593620659

Wasteland vol. 1: Cities in Dust

July 17th, 2009

Wasteland vol. 1

 Authors:        Christopher J. Mitten, Antony Johnston

Reviewer:     Louise


In a post-apocalyptic world, a mysterious stranger roams from settlement to settlement, on a quest that will change his world. Meanwhile, the elders of one of the few surviving cities must defend their way of life against the incursions of marauding bandits…

Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, then, gentle reader, you clearly have not read or viewed much sci-fi, since the above post-apocalyptic scenario is one of the classic sci-fi plots – think Mad Max, Waterworld, and even the book the Readers of the Lost Art have recently read, The Painted Man… 

Of course, it can trace its origins back further, as similar themes can be found in many classic Westerns and even stories set in the medieval era with wandering knights-errant. I mention this by way of saying that the basic scenario of Wasteland is familiar, but this is not necessarily a problem. It’s not whether the scenario is familiar, there being only around fifteen plots in the world, but whether the author has managed to do anything good with it. 

Happily, this author and artist have. I enjoyed Wasteland. I like a good action-adventure, especially if the author has successfully created characters which are neither annoyingly invincible, or just annoying. The main character, Michael, is mysterious without it being too contrived, and there’s a pleasing lack of sexism, with some strong female characters. The art is good, too – black and white and very clear, in a way that really suits the story. In a genre too often filled with men-in-tights filler, this is a welcome and refreshing addition to the world of graphic novels. 


Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: Oni Press (28 Mar 2007)

ISBN-10: 1932664599

The Nightly News

July 10th, 2009

The Nightly News

Writer and artist: Jonathan Hickman

Reviewer: Louise

Synopsis from Amazon:

“As an act of violence spirals out of control to encompass the entirety of the news media, a cult has emerged from the errors and retractions that have ruined careers, marriages and even lives. Under direction from his cult master, The Hand leads an army of followers committed to revolution, willing to die for their cause.”


Both a tale of conspiracy and terrorism, and an rant against the state of news reporting in America, “The Nightly News” is a graphic novel unlike many others. Ostensibly, it’s about a man whose life was ruined by the television news – the Nightly News – and who joins a cult dedicated to bringing down those who work in it, killing news presenters and others working in the industry. At each turn, however, the author confronts us with various facts he’s collected on the state of the information industry in America in the form of endnotes. These are presented in the shape of numbers scattered through the book, which correspond to the endnotes at the end of the book. 

It’s an interesting way of presenting the book. You can either read it all the way through as a straight tale of one increasingly deranged man’s obsession as he becomes “The Hand” – the leader of the cause – or read the endnotes, which form an ongoing commentary on the events in the text. The only flaw with this is that the numbers are so small, it’s not always obvious that they are there. I was a third of the way into the book before I realised their existence.

Wisely, the author does not shirk from showing us the violence and suffering caused by the Hand and his followers. Though the facts are often shocking, we aren’t tempted to view them as the good guys. Instead, the author asks us “If this isn’t the way to solve the problem, what is?” The artwork, too, is impressive and distinctive.

My only complaint would be that the plot is a little convoluted. It may take a couple of goes to be sure you understand what’s going on. Then again, it makes a refreshing change to have to employ one’s brain to grasp what’s happening in a graphic novel; this isn’t mind-candy like so many others out there on the market. Recommended for anyone ready for a thought-provoking read who is willing to sit down and really get into it!


Paperback: 184 pages

Publisher: Image Comics (30 Jun 2007)

ISBN-10: 1582407665

Umbrella Academy vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite

July 3rd, 2009

Umbrella Academy

Writer:             Gerard Way

Artist:              Gabriel Ba

Reviewer:       Louise


 “In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who’d previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children who form The Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers; when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.” (Synopsis from  

“Apocalypse Suite” collects the six issues of this limited series by artist Gabriel Ba and writer Gerard Way (he of My Chemical Romance fame). I can best describe it as reading somewhat like what would happen if you threw X-Men, Doom Patrol, Nextwave, and Doctor Who into a blender, then added a pinch of crazy. (I should perhaps add at this point that I liked it.)  

Some of the plot does feel a little familiar; the ongoing rivalry between the team’s leader, Spaceboy, and the obligatory rebel member of the team, Kraken, is pretty reminiscent of Cyclops / Wolverine. Then again, the “dysfunctional superteam” theme has been done so often it would be extremely hard for there not to be some similarities between this and its antecedents, and there are some very nice touches. 

The team’s powers are original – I do rather like the fact that the oldest and most dangerous member of the team is stuck in the body of a ten-year-old, whereas the leader has the body of a giant gorilla – the villains are suitably horrible (page 2 of issue 2 made me jump and go “Ugh!”), and there’s a refreshing lack of exposition. This is a world with giant alien squids, talking monkeys and robots, and Way and Ba don’t particularly feel the need to explain why or how any of this happened. 

Which is fine by me, I’d far rather watch a monkey with a doctorate flying over the city looking for signs of the apocalypse (trust me, it makes sense when you read it) than watch someone hork up some exposition about when and how monkeys in this particular world became intelligent, when they got civil rights, etc. Happily, the weirdness is also balanced out by some real emotion; you really do feel the pain of the one member of the team who “just wasn’t special enough” to join in with their adventures. If you want to see a new and enjoyably weird take on the world of superheroes, stop off here. 

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Dark Horse (16 Jul 2008)

ISBN-10: 1593079788