suspected Illuminatus, Lieutenant Franz Hebenstreit von Streitenfeld. The latter attended the meetings often, and expressed such Illuminist, utopian socialist views as “human misery would continue so long as men said ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and refused to have things in common.”
Lo! were it otherwise, mere banishment,
I deem he had feared more! He had an heir.
This was a boy of strength with ardour blent,
High hope embowered in a body fair.
Him had he watched with eager eye, aware
Of misery occult in youth, awake
At the first touch of the diviner air
Of manhood, that could bane and blessing make,
The Lord of Life and Death, the secret of the Snake.
Aleister Crowley, Why Jesus Wept
Little, Big is possibly the best modern fantasy novel ever. It is innovative and traditional, reflective and eventful, intimate and intricately formal. In many ways, it is no more “fantastic” than any other novel, since it involves the kind of magic that is real, as experienced by a family who are imaginary in a sort of ideal way. It is best appreciated by well-read grownups who are willing to take the time to savor its details, because the mind-blowing bigness of the story is packed into its littlest bits.
That poem of Browning owes much of its haunting charm to this very circumstance, that the reader is never told who Childe Roland is, or why he wants to get to the Dark Tower, or what he expects to find when he does get there. There is a skillfully constructed atmosphere of Giants, and Ogres, and Hunchbacks, and the rest of the apparatus of fairy-tales; but there is no trace of the influence of Bædeker in the style. Now this is really very irritating to anybody who happens to be seriously concerned to get to that tower. I remember, as a boy, what misery I suffered over this poem. Had Browning been alive, I think I would have sought him out, so seriously did I take the Quest.
I’ve been reading Matt Howarth’s comics for over 25 years, and this graphic novel is definitely an anomaly: no aliens or electronic music or time travel or bizarre violence. It’s a terribly human story about the contemporary decline of the American economy and the atomization of our society. All the art is in Howarth’s inimitable style, and the characters’ expressions (verbal and visual) are engaging and believable. The end of it is a couple of pages of goofy sentimentalism that I could easily have done without.
This graphic novel furnishes about as accurate a portrayal of H.P. Lovecraft as the movie “Chemical Wedding” (a.k.a. “Crowley”) did of Aleister Crowley, which is to say: not particularly. In the foreword, moviemaker John Carpenter gives entirely too much credence to the possible facticity of the contents–which were apparently first developed as a screenplay.
Still, Rodionoff tells an entertaining story, and Breccia’s art is quite effective and evocative. I would recommend it to horror comics afficianados and Cthulhu Mythos completists.
man’s fear to live in the infinite luxury of life is the prime root of his misery.
Christopher S Hyatt, The Black Book, Volume 1: Principles of Extreme Living: Become Who You Are—There Are No Guarantees [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]