In the summer of 1962, with his mother recuperating from an illness, young Luke Kirby is sent to stay with his Uncle Elias, (who Luke has never met) in a village called Lunstead. Elias soon reveals himself to be a magician, and he is keen to pass his skills onto his nephew. But as Luke begins his magical apprenticeship, a deadly horror reveals itself…
Written by Alan McKenzie, and illustrated by John Ridgway and Steve Parkhouse, Summer Magic: The Complete Journal of Luke Kirby is a collection of tales (originally printed in 2000AD), which coalesce into an overall story arc. The stories are varied, for example: The Night Walker, where Luke must confront a vampire; Sympathy for the Devil, where Luke travels to hell (an unnervingly original version of the underworld) in search of his father; and (possibly my favourite in the book) The Old Straight Track, which delves deep into British mythology and folklore, becoming a memorable folk horror tale infused with paganism, during which Luke—guided by the mysterious alchemist called Zeke— travels through a landscape marked by ley lines, stone circles and long barrows. For me, there are echoes of the work of Alan Garner with the close connection between the landscape and the characters.
Summer Magic is a compelling collection, with stories that in places pack a disturbing punch. Throughout the book, the beauty and mystery of the English countryside is beautifully evoked through the writing and the stunning artwork. And beneath that beauty, and within the sleepy streets of the villages and little towns, true horrors lurk…
Through all the stories run themes of death, family and horror, and as Luke develops his magical and alchemical skills, he learns that all actions, however well-intentioned, have consequences. Within Summer Magic, there is more than a little sense of the challenging, hard-edged fare of 1970s British cinema and TV (this is definitely a story for the Scarred for Life generation).
Summer Magic: The Complete Journal of Luke Kirby is a great collection—a coming-of-age tale but with a 2000AD edge, an excellent example of the dazzling range of creativity that has poured from the comic’s pages over the decades. If you’re read and reread all of the Harry Potter books, or just finished binge-watching series 4 of Stranger Things, you will find much to enjoy in this dose of Summer Magic.
If you want to find out more about Summer Magic: The Complete Journal of Luke Kirby, I'd recommend this excellent short introductory video made by 2000AD:
Britain has brought back the death penalty, and Adam Cadman, convicted of murder, finds himself the first person to be hanged since 1964. But as the noose tightens around his neck, Cadman is transported to the Mazeworld, a world in another dimension, and there this reluctant hero begins his adventure. For in this world of strange creatures and mighty warriors, Cadman is believed to be the Hooded One, a hero of old who can lead the oppressed masses in rebellion against the Mazeworld’s cruel masters…
It’s been a long time since I last dipped into the wild and weird world of 2000AD; although not a regular reader of the comic as a young person, characters such as Nemesis the Warlock left an indelible memory. I decided to start my journey through 2000AD classics with Mazeworld, and I was not disappointed.
Written by Alan Grant and illustrated by Arthur Ranson, Mazeworld is truly a work of epic fantasy, bold and imaginative. There is action aplenty, all expertly paced and beautifully illustrated – the artwork of Arthur Ranson is always stunning and at times simply breathtaking. Some of the panels could be frames from epic movies, full of energy and excitement.
It is a powerful story too, thematically dense, and rich in mythological and folkloric imagery such as the Green Man. The world building is staggering - the architecture of this other dimension, inspired by the Aztec and ancient Egyptian cultures, looms over the panels, almost making the Mazeworld a character in its own right, with visual treats such as the enormous ziggurats, the many carved monuments to old gods who look on in silent judgement, and the twisted alleyways and dungeons. The gritty rundown realism of the Mazeworld plays effectively alongside the broader fantasy elements such as maze monsters and flying lizards – this serves to make the world of the story all the more convincing and immersive.
Cadman is certainly far from the traditional hero – upon his first ‘arrival’ in the Mazeworld he is a coward, concerned only with his own welfare and interests; but gradually, through many trials and failures, he begins to develop into the hero the suffering folk of the Mazeworld so desperately crave.
Mazeworld offers an unsettling vision of evil - the enemies Cadman face in this other dimension are truly horrific, from the scheming Lord Raven, to the spine-chilling Dark Man with his deadly third eye, and the final demonic foe…
Atmospheric and immersive, Mazeworld is a treat for any lover of fantasy fiction and tales of the uncanny. I was so engrossed in the unfolding plot, I am sure there are many subtleties I missed, so I look forward to discovering them when I re-read the book and once more become lost in the Mazeworld.
If you want find out more about Mazeworld, I'd recommend an excellent short introductory video made by 2000AD: