The Man Who Ate Daffodils
What? I hear you all saying. Has he been on something this fine day?
I first met Simon around 2007 when I first started to frequent comics conventions once more. I had met him on line previous to this on one or more of the social and professional networks. Each time we met, we both spoke about our mutual projects – both of us were writing and drawing our own graphic novels and both of us shared a common passion and drive to see them come to fruition and publication.
Now, thankfully, both of us have seen our dreams fulfilled. Simon’s beat mine to publication by a month – Unbelievable in October of last year published by Markosia Enterprises Ltd and Worlds End in November by Wizards Keep Publishing.
The book arrived in the post a few weeks ago. I waited to read it until after I had finished writing the final draft of volume two of my Worlds End graphic novel series, as I wanted to savour this nice looking book.
It is a square bound, soft backed, US format black and white book and comes with a striking cover that gives nothing away, but a little intrigue – the way all good covers should. The back cover is equally well illustrated and comes with the following blurb:
“The close-knit community of Bryn Boncath has its share of local legends and half believed histories. It has also become the scene of a series of bizarre and mysterious deaths. People are afraid to go out after dark and sightings of a monstrous beast are on the increase once again. What Ben Ellis took to be the tall tales of his Grandfather may be more than just stories.”
There are some nice write-ups in the book with a couple of Forewords and Introductions and an afterword too. My particular copy came with a limited edition print, which was a nice unexpected extra touch from Simon – as there are only 20 such prints in existence.
I know some folks don’t like his work, but I love Stephen King’s books, especially the original batch; It, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, Needful Things, etc. So when I started reading Simon’s book, although it has its own voice, it has that same sense of rhythm that the Stephen King best sellers have had.
One feels the “real” world authenticity that he has put into it. I haven’t spoken to Simon yet about his book, but it feels like the places are based in a true reality with a fantasy twist thrown in for good measure. Now whether this is an accurate description I cannot say, but to me it has that same sense of place that Stephen King’s have in his version of Maine.
I cannot tell you anything about the story, as I feel that would spoil the whole experience, but suffice it to say that it has great characters – with whom you can relate. It harks back to the times when kids really could go out in to the countryside alone on their summery adventures. It has creepy characters and horror by the bucket load too. So if mystery and ghostly horror are your cups of tea, then this is a book for you.
It keeps up a tremendous pace throughout and left me certainly wanting more and more you need for there has to be a sequel, because, just like my own Worlds End book, this has a “to be continued” caption at the end.
There are some nice touches with the art too, which reminds me of the best Eric Bradbury and Tom Sutton artwork with dashes of EC and Warren comics in there to flavour the whole thing - no mean feat. Of late I have taken an age to read most graphic novels, as I read them last thing at night after working long hours, so often fall asleep with the books in my hands still. Unbelievable did not last that long. I read it in two sessions on consecutive nights… two consecutive cold end of winter nights, with the bedside lamp for light. The perfect setting to read this kind of book.
I had been shown pieces of the book, pages here and there, sketches and the like, but nothing prepared me for the one that now has pride of place next to my studio favourites long with such magnificent creators as Kirby, Wrightson, Windsor Smith, Buscema, Eisner, Ploog, Goscinny and Uderzo, Druillet, Ridgway et al. So he is in some great company.
There are monsters in there too along with some very creepy scenes – dark and broody, just like the village and landscape in which it resides. There is dark magic here and so much mystery you dare not take your eyes off the ball. It has the perfect feel of the best of the Hammer Films, or others such as An American Werewolf in London, or the TV adaptation of Salem’s Lot. In other words it has all the ingredients I like best in all of the above.
I received an email from Simon asking for my mailing address before he sent the book off. I replied and then a few days went by and with the writing of my own in progress I forgot about it until the package arrived. I opened it and gave it a quick perusal then put it on a shelf in the studio, where I leave books that are to be imminently read.
When I first opened the book to read I saw it came with a lovely inscription personalised by Simon, but as I read further I saw he gave me a credit in the acknowledgments section of his book. My name is second only to the publisher, Harry Markos, as he thanks a handful of people that he says have supported his endeavours with this book. I would like to say publicly here to Simon that he was there for me too and add my thanks for caring enough to put a mention for me in his book.
A few years ago I started predicting a number of forthcoming sequential stories, that I knew were in the pipeline by certain as then unnamed comics creators, were going to open up a new market. This was one of them. If you haven’t seen it go out and buy a copy. It is available as a digital download, but get yourself a “real” copy that you can put on your shelves or get both. I think you’ll be glad you did. It will probably be one of the best-spent £12.99s you will part with this year.
All that remains is for me to wish Simon all the success in the world with his book and to add I cannot wait to see his next one.
Until next time, have fun!May 4th 2012