Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (5 stars)

Howard Chakyn and Mike Mignola

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (Dark Horse)


Given that this is by far the best work Mike Mignola did before creating Hellboy, it’s a wonder it’s taken Dark Horse this long (17 years) to collect his marvellous adaptations, scripted by Howard Chaykin, of Fritz Leiber’s terrific sword and sorcery tales. There are seven of them here, starting with ‘Ill Met in Lankhmar’, which introduces Leiber’s ancient stone city rife with crime and run by a guild of thieves in cohorts with a wicked wizard. But while there’s melees and magic aplenty, what differentiates Leiber’s creations from, say, those of Robert E Howard is the streak of urbane wit running through the stories and the fact that they’re crafted more like hardboiled crime fiction than hack’n’slash pulp. Between them, Mignola and Chakyn do a grand job, respectively, of visualising Leiber’s noirish world and complementing it with his cracking dialogue, to wit: ‘It’s civilisation that has inured us - Lankhmar that has taught us to love the stench of degeneracy.’

(Miles Fielder)

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