Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Vesuvius Club - Mark Gatiss

Now I have to admit, the only reason I picked this up was that it was in Pocklington library and it was one of those books that I’d noticed had made the transition from comic shop to bookstore.
Now normally this event is only really reserved for books like Maus, Palestine, Persepolis and the like, so I did wonder why this had been chosen.

I imagine having Mark Gatiss’ name on it (League of Gentlemen, Dr Who) has helped, because it certainly wasn’t picked for content.
It is, sad to say, bloody awful. Amateurish, badly plotted, stilted dialogue, poor story, simple but unspectacular artwork.
The thing it reminds me most of is the Lord Horror & the Meng & Ecker books from Savoy (link). When they were published they had the same amateur feel, but they also had an originality, a spark of brilliance and were truly innovative. If you remember them, you also remember how they courted controversy, obsenity cases and the wrath of God’s cop himself in their time. Fortunately, the creators (John Coulthart & David Britton) had a good idea, good writing and innovative art to back it up.

Vesuvius Club does not. The story is part Luther Arkwright, part Sebastian O, part League of Extra-ordinary Gentlemen. But there’s nothing new, nothing original and very little of any merit here. Shame. Because it does seem to be sat on shelves in Waterstones and libaries across the country giving a terrible impression of this medium. The temptation to take it back and complain about it is huge. But even greater is a temptation to put huge stickers in the book suggesting better graphic novels to read.

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