I knew next to nothing about Rafael Sabatini before I picked up this latest volume of Graphic Classics. I always did love a good swashbuckler though, and I figured the creator of Captain Blood and Scaramouche was worth a look. Graphic Classics hasn't let me down yet, and this certainly won't be the last time they introduce me to a fantastic writer.
Remembered primarily for the slate of Errol Flynn films adapted from his works, such as "Captain Blood" and "The Sea Hawk," Sabatini is credited with the literary creation of the anti-hero, a rogue who's heroic nature is made heroic only by striving against those more villainous than himself. A host of pirates, charlatans and highway robbers manage to ingratiate themselves to the reader under Sabatini's guiding hand.
"Graphic Classics: Rafael Sabatini" is clearly a labor of love for editor Tom Pomplun, and he has put extra care into its quality. There is not a weak piece in this volume, and the artists are especially well-matched to the stories.
This volume contains:
"Captain Blood" - From a doctor, to a slave, to a free-booting pirate, Peter Blood's story is a bloody swath of adventure. Illustrated in a straight-forward but suitable style, Sabatini's most famous story comes dramatically to life. This one definitely makes me want to get the book and read the full story.
"Desperately Seeking Sabatini" - A hunt for the author,written by a college professor who wonders why Sabatini is not better remembered. Sabatini's story is an eye-opener. I had thought of him as a contemporary of Alexandre Dumas, not someone who was able to go see his own movies.
"The Valet Mystery" - A clever short story in the Sherlock Holmes vein, tense and with an interesting twist.
"The Spiritualist" - A comedic tale of a charlatan and the worlds beyond. Great illustrations to compliment the story.
"The Plague of Ghosts" - Another mystery, where a former con man hires his services to the police to uncover other con men. This time, a haunted castle and a bullet-proof ghost with a blazing skull. Classical art on this one really brings out the mystery.
"The Fool's Love Story" - Artist Milton Knight brings his personal flair to this story of the courage of ugly people, and how their love is no less powerful than the beautiful's.
"The Risen Dead" - A no-account rogue is finally brought to trial, although it is for a crime he didn't commit. A miracle grants him a second chance, but it is up to him to make something of it.
"The Dream" - An creepy tale of a mesmerist seeking to enforce his will upon a young lady of fortune. Her true love intervenes best he can, but the mesmerist's powers are strong.