Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Roger Zelazny Book Review: The Illustrated Roger Zelazny
I usually don't cover collections, but The Illustrated Roger Zelazny is something of a special case. It reprints a couple classic Zelazny stories, (A Rose for Ecclesiastes, The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of his Mouth and the Furies (thank goodness they included the Furies, because God knows that's a hard story to track down) and an entirely new tale called Shadowjack, about the earlier adventures of the thief of the same name, and they're all lavishly illustrated by Gray Morrow whom I 'm sad to see committed suicide because he could no longer draw due of the progress of his Parkinson's Disease.
I don't have a lot a lot to say about the stories themselves that haven't been covered in their individual entries. Shadowjack isn't bad, just generic. It's your run of the mill fantasy thief adventure. I would have much preferred Shadowland, the story outlined in the The Road to Amber, Volume 6 of the Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, which tells how Jack's world became divided between lightside and darkside. That had Morningstar, who was consistently awesome.
I have the little Ace paperback version. The art is really quite nice, with a very distinctive 1970s vibe to the style. In addition to the illustrated stories, I've already mentioned, there's also a Zelazny Tapestry, with several different pictures depicting scenes from Doorways in the Sand, Damnation Alley and Today we Choose Faces. (Specifically, the topless girl on a bike reminds in the Damnation Alley picture reminds me of a very similar scene in Vanishing Point)
The DitS image really is both beautiful and captures the essence of the book, with Rhennius machine, the reversed penny and the star-stone all juxtaposed together with a young man whom I assume must be Fred. (This also reminds me, I want to redo my Doorways review, because I think it fails to capture what I like about the book.)
The Faces picture is disturbing in a beautiful way. Or perhaps it's the other way around. Whatever, it's a memorable piece.
(And I know, this would probably be a better post with images, but I generally don't like to use anything other than the cover art for Zelazny posts, particularly for something like this, where the art is most of the point of the work)
In addition, we also have some full color paintings of Amber characters, which, while still very nice, I tend to like less than those in the Visual Guide, as the 70s feel works less well here. (Though I do like Eric and Corwin on the rear cover.)
Also of note, Moire is depicted with pale green skin which will fuel discussions that occasionally arise.
Also, Brand really looks like Marvel comic's Loki in some of the paintings.
Zelazny's commentary with each section is great, but you can probably find most or all of it in the Collected Stories. I like it, but I think it's ultimately a novelty. There were other Zelazny works in visual media (such as the comic in the 90s), but not a lot of them, and I wish there had been more adaptations like this.