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 Savoy Comics
Lord Horror #8

Reverbstorm 1—
Our Lord of Fuck Off


Script—David Britton

Art—John Coulthart / Kris Guidio

Cover—Coulthart

1994

A Savoy Schopenhauer Production

52pp

ISBN 0 86130 090 4

Reverbstorm 1

 
'In fiction as in history, it is the shudder that tells.'

Edgar Everston Saltus

A new series in a new world: Lord Horror escapes the camps and his old life for a new stamping ground, the nightmare necropolis of Torenbürgen, unholy offspring of New York City and Auschwitz-Birkenau. More policemen are sliced, Jessie Matthews performs Sondheim with Prince and Horror sings Teddy Boy Boogie. The Soul of the Virgin Mary goes on the rampage and the air is choked with black and unheimlich vapours.

First thousand copies came with a free CD-single of Jessie Matthews sings Reverbstorm, Paul Temple's tempestuous slice of Wagnerian Northern Soul.


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  Reverbstorm—hard to believe that work started on this in 1990 and the series still isn't finished. The first issue didn't appear until '94 due to more unforeseen circumstances than most people receive in a lifetime: the death of Savoy's original comics printer followed by trouble finding any other printer; being sued by United Features Syndicate for £20,000 in the 'Garfield' case; police raids and more police raids; the Lord Horror trial; the suicide of Martin Flitcroft, Savoy's PR man; and David Britton's second term of imprisonment—all in all, the stuff of Jack Trevor Story's wildest nightmares.

Against these odds, the first issue did eventually crawl blinking into the light of day, complete with companion CD single in the first 1,000 issues, featuring the series' theme song, as far as we're aware a comics first (see Records). From the outset, one of Savoy's principal aims had been the blending of so-called high and low art, the intellectual and the populist. Reverbstorm takes it for granted that these usually separate worlds belong together; Burne Hogarth's Ononoes thunder through Seurat's Grande Jatte while Screamin' Jay Hawkins hoots and bellows over Eliot's Waste Land. The adoption of Cubist and Expressionist styles isn't new in comics, the pages of Raw have been littered with badly rendered borrowings from the period that serve no purpose in terms of story or content—in Reverbstorm all the references exist for a reason and relate directly to the characters (for further details, see the Reverbstorm appendix). Where stylistic devices from Picasso are used, there are as many again from Burne Hogarth, two world famous artists from the same period, working at opposite poles. This kind of conjunction makes Reverbstorm unique, at the same time as following in the tradition of cultural collision established in the original Lord Horror novel.

As well as the references in the story, Reverbstorm has the new feature of a list of songs or musical pieces at the beginning of each issue. The lists can serve as a recommended listening guide which correspond to the ambience of each comic—if Lord Horror comics had soundtracks, these are some of the sounds the reader would hear.


 

Reviews

"Mr Britton asks us to stare into the sun with him. Some of us do and, after winding our way through the tortuous labyrinth of western philosophy, rhetoric, political, artistic and scientific theory expounded in the text, we finally confront the minotaur at the centre, crouched atop a pile of human skulls and recognise ourselves with a sudden jarring shock."

D M MITCHELL, Rapid Eye 2 (1995 edition)

 

"Savoy flay and mock the cherished values of the Disestablishment...If it be admitted that this is a genuinely vicious body of work, it is at least one which attempts real violations or real contemporary norms, and not just the usual tepid pantomimes of rebellion...Coulthart's dark, clogged artwork is superb...The sheer darkness of Savoy's anti-heroes is true to humanity and to history in a way which other recent work fails to be."

ANDY ROBERTSON, Interzone

 

"A rollercoaster ride to the end of our collective night, a delirious, erotic and unbridled display of literary savagery and artistic terrorism."

D M MITCHELL, Rapid Eye 2 (1995 edition)

 

I have not seen in many a long series of months—or years—the kind of continued dedication to the punctilious and meticulous pen and ink work put on board by your artist. It's a striking example of the need to create and the desire to shock the sensibilities of an audience with a phantasmic subject linked to a febrile and phantasmagorical talent.

BURNE HOGARTH

 

"There is no clear-cut political code or ethical interpretation, because Savoy is leading us, as usual, into frighteningly unfamiliar territory...yet (in Reverbstorm) there is a strong misleading and dangerous element now present in the seductive form of rock'n'roll."

D M MITCHELL, Rapid Eye 2 (1995 edition)

 

"Locus readers have been informed from time to time about the running battle between the British publisher Savoy Books and the Manchester police constabulary. Censorship, confiscation, and general establishment harassment appear to be among the most obvious issues. At the heart of the flames seems to be David Britton's Lord Horror, a novel that few of us stateside readers have ever seen. Horace, as the worthy is apparently called by his wife, is the subject of a series of graphic adaptations from Savoy. The latest, #8, is a graphic novel called Reverbstorm 1, and it's accompanied by a CD. "Graphic" is right. Imagine Howard Chaykin's Black Kiss, but with less apparent plot. Edited by Michael Butterworth and with art by John Coulthart, Reverbstorm is pretty strong stuff. Plenty of ugly violence. The sequence in which Lord Horror kills, eviscerates, and dismembers (and not necessarily in that order) a trio of Manchester coppers seems unlikely to soothe relations between Britton and company, and the local peacekeepers. So is Britton's creation pro-violence, anti-fascist, anarchic, or anti-Semitic? Well, I always try to assume the best about any clearly strong material. But I feel a little like someone coming in late to a world championship pro wrestling melee and not yet catching on to which mask is worn by which hero or heel. Still, power is power, and this graphic novel possesses it in abundance. The eclectic dedication is to Burne Hogarth, Captain Beefheart, and David Lindsay. A recurring touchstone is the proverb, "The smallest revenge will poison the soul." There seems to be a crazy, hideous sense at work here. The CD's good too. The Reverbstorm lyrics are printed in the graphic novel. The disc's got three tracks, three versions, including a short take for radio. Solid. You can even dance to it."

EDWARD BRYANT, Locus

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