UNEARTHED: Elric: The Dreaming City, Part Three

Elric is close to his goals now: the razing of Imrryr, the rescue of his beloved Cymoril, and the death of his cousin Yyrkoon. Do we think it’ll go well? Those of you with any knowledge of this genre of dark fantasy will already know the answer to that. But let’s press on and find out.

The stylized nature of Russell’s work is perfect for this epic story. I feel that a ‘realistic’ rendering wouldn’t do it justice.

Love this amazing two-page spread, the reveal of Imrryr in all its pastel-hued glory. Not quite the color palette you’d expect from a gothic fantasy, huh?

Was this ever actually a thing? Catapults on ships? I’m not conversant enough with naval battle history to know, but it seems like a good idea.

WHAT’S IN THE WATERRRRRRRRRRR

I don’t recall if Elric’s war helmet has a dragon on it in the original novel, but it’s pretty cool. I also like the little ornamentation Russell drew on Elric’s gloved fingers. And the assembled troops are kind of bemused by Elric’s ranting here… I get the feeling Elric doesn’t even know they’re there.

Another masterfully-crafted panel. Notice the extreme perspective Russell gave Elric, emphasizing his expression. Notice the differentiating army colors, vibrant reds and golds for the attackers, somber purples for the defenders. Everything adds to the energy of the scene.

This is another image that’s stayed with me over the decades, the cold, inhumanity of Elric’s face. If you really examine it, the anatomy is a bit off here, but it’s okay for the dynamism of it all.

I love all the design elements Russell includes here. Notice how Elric’s cloak frames him in a circular pattern, making even more plain his centeredness in the scene.

I also love the liquid fire nature of Stormbringer’s path as it cuts through the assembled soldiers. There’s a suggestion of demonic creatures in its wake, which befits the unholy nature of the blade. This is a sword that eats souls and blood and transfers that vitality to Elric as he wields it. Very creepy stuff.

It’s interesting to note how much of Russell’s work is based on curves. Typically you’d expect action to be composed of angles and sharp corners, but Russell really trades on sweeping arcs and ovoid elements to great effect.

Elric leaves the field of battle to pursue his quest of vengeance and rescue. That first panel’s eyes continue to haunt me.

This is a cool comics trick that always delights me when it’s done. Essentially a view of a single location, the panels represent distinct moments in time. It’s a way to depict movement that in a movie would just be a lingering shot, but it gives the moment a certain feel that a movie sequence wouldn’t have.

More of these livid pastel hues, only now they’ve taken on a sinister aspect. And you have to love Russell’s Dr. Seussian trees in that first panel.

As the second panel shows, Elric is a changed person from the stock Melnibon√©an. He actually displays some empathy for Tanglebones here, which is certainly not the norm for his amoral race. The novel goes into greater depth about who the people of Melnibon√© are and were, and this graphic novel doesn’t really dwell on it too much. In some ways, Elric is a doomed hero because of his compassion.

I love this tower! It reminds me a lot of ‘Nemesis the Warlock’, a series we’ll get to eventually. Here’s a peek for comparison:

Just panel after panel of ornamentation. That’s the P. Craig Russell touch.

Here, Elric uses a spell to dissolve this magical barrier. And I love the little glyph that represents the ‘single alien word’.

What exactly is going on in this tower? The novel makes it more explicit, but it’s difficult to know in this comic.

Really gorgeous, hallucinatory imagery here, in both text and pictures. And at last, we’ve come to Elric’s cousin…

WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

Of all the sights in this story, that’s the one that stands out to me the most, and it’s entirely Russell’s interpretation. It’s fucking terrifying. It’s clearly a nod to the cat portraits of Louis Wain, suggesting some kind of schizophrenic bent in Yyrkoon, though I don’t know that that’s ever explicitly stated in the novel. Whatever, Yyrkoon is bad business, and we’re about to see the final confrontation between him and Elric.

Please return for the final installment of “UNEARTHED: Elric: The Dreaming City”!

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