A Rare Elegance
Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden takes a look at P Craig Russell’s Strange Dreams Artist’s Edition, published by IDW…
P Craig Russell’s Strange Dreams Artist’s Edition
Writers: Don McGregor, Marc Andreyko
Artist: P Craig Russell
P. Craig Russell is an artist with a unique vision. Like his artistic hero, the dearly departed Steve Ditko, and probably in the same vein as the Kirbyesque illustrator Mike Mignola, he is a comics visionary whose work stands out amongst many of the derivative pencillers and their generic product seen weekly on today’s comic book stands. Let’s not mince words: Russell is a master of sequential storytelling, and nothing proves this more than the two projects showcased in IDW’s fantastic artist’s edition, the 140-page P. Craig Russell’s Strange Dreams.
Shot in color from Russell’s original art – and measuring an impressive 12” x 17” – the artist’s edition features near-legendary projects, including the author’s “last” Killraven story, “Last Dreams Broken,” which was released in Marvel Graphic Novel #7 by the House of Ideas in the early 1980s. Promoted as the last hurrah of futuristic hero Jonathan Raven and his band of Freemen, we learn in the first of the artist’s edition‘s two introductions that was not originally the case. In fact, the whole point of the story was for Russell and comics scribe Don McGregor to further Killraven’s eventual war on Mars itself. (Talk about your “Lost Tales!”)
Still, the story is absolutely out of this world – literally. Russell’s delicate delineations of Killraven and Company give the reader a sense of alien wonder, even if this dystopian tale is held on terra firma. It also stands as his most impressive work to date in terms of depicting the Terran freedom fighter – allowing the artist-extraordinaire to, in his own words, “show off” with his breathtaking art.
Again, it’s fantastic. Now, ready yourself for something fantastical.
The second project showcased in this must-have tome is “Dr. Strange Master of the Mystic Arts in What is it that Disturbs You Stephen? or . . . Mourning Becomes Electra.” Written by the talented Marc Andreyko, this again shows off Russell at his finest. No stranger to the good doctor, Russell outshines in this exemplary depiction of the “Sorcerer Supreme” where he previously just excelled. His Ditko influence comes out in all its dynamic glory with this work, and Russell holds nothing back. And, as those experiencing the art and story for ourselves, we’re all the better for it!
The bottom line: This artist edition offers something special for the art collector and the comic book aficionado alike. Don’t pass it up!