The Return Of The Lords Of Misrule by Dave Elliott

MISRULE_front_coverDave Elliott is a long standing mover-and-shaker in comics. Publisher with Garry Leach as Atomeka Comics, their A1 anthology featured work by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Jamie Hewlett, Simon Bisley and many A-list names, as well as Warpsmith and BoJeffries Saga projects. He also edited Penthouse Comix and was one of the founders of Radical Comics, before leaving last year with legal recriminations. He has been a central figure in the recent Marvelman discussions and is behind the Fall Out Toy Works series at Image Comics.

Today he writes for Bleeding Cool about one of my favourite nineties series, Lords Of Misrule.

1990 and the comics industry was giddily getting excited about the dawn of a possible new era. Comics and graphic novels were slowly being accepted in new formats and outlets. Bookstores were beginning to accept more on to the shelves as books like WATCHMEN and DARK KNIGHT were moving swiftly off their shelves (doesn’t sound like much has changed in 20 years).

Kevin Eastman’s Tundra Publishing seemed poised to take full advantage of this new move. We had Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Rick Veitch, Steve Bissette, Simon Bisley, as well as some new talent that people were not yet so familiar with.

It was these new talents that would give us at Tundra UK some extremely good material, even if the fates had already decreed that we were not the ones to eventually publish them.

The biggest surprises to me were the projects from Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson pitched to me by our senior editor Steve White (whose DINOSAURS: A CELEBRATION book for Marvel is unfortunately out of print).

I knew Dan, Steve and John pretty well. They had been my editors at Marvel UK when I was working on such titles as “Transformers,” “Action Force” (G. I. JOE), “Ghostbusters,” “ThunderCats” and “Galaxy Rangers”. I knew they harbored a desire to write and they were behind the acclaimed Marvel UK title “KNIGHTS OF PENDRAGON”. It was a great series illustrated by ‘up-and-comer’ Gary Erskine and is finally being collected and will be available in November.

But when Steve told me they wanted to pitch something to Tundra, I was a little surprised. Sadly I was prejudging them based on where they worked and what they worked on, not on their talents. Fortunately Steve persevered so when I read the outlines the surprise gave way to excitement. These were exactly the types of projects I felt could breakout into the mainstream. One was science-fiction and the other was horror. Gary Erskine was to draw both of them.

The horror project was “THE LORDS OF MISRULE,” a graphic novel that would introduce a wonderfully deep history that at the time we felt had the potential be a great franchise.

The first graphic novel was very well received so we commissioned a full six issue series. Gary (Erskine) had already started on another project by Dan with Steve (White) called “PALE HORSES” (later published by Dark Horse as “Hypersonic”) so series editor Andy Seddon brought us Peter Snejbjerg who proved to be an excellent choice. Mutual friend to us all, John Higgins came on to do the covers.

To cut a long story short, we were all gutted when Tundra closed its doors without the series seeing print. Fortunately Tundra was a creator friendly company and Kevin allowed creators to take back their projects. Dan, Steve and John took the completed series to Dark Horse who printed it in black and white.

Cut to 2006 and the idea I pitched to Barry Levine nearly 10 years previously was about to become a reality. Radical publishing was opening its doors but with an entirely different agenda.

We were looking for projects that could work in more than one media. This wasn’t to be a purely publishing venture. While many saw that as just being film, I wanted to develop ideas that worked on several platforms and were based on concepts that were part of entire universes.

I saw the chance to return to the LORDS OF MISRULE.

Besides just wanting this series to finally see print in one volume and in full color (beautifully painted by JM Ringuet), I saw it as a property built on concepts that could work for film, TV, video game, novels… It had a rich history that would work in all these mediums.

Well, now it is out in a single beautiful volume. Special thanks go to Mark Cox who originally designed the logo and saw the series through as art director both at Tundra UK and Dark Horse, and Rasmus Hansson of Moyo Studios who helped me art direct the design on the book.

Please go and pick up a copy, its 264 pages for only $25. It’s a bloody good book. Reading the book again I wonder why John Tomlinson isn’t writing Hellblazer or comics at all. Never too late…

Rich has kindly agreed to run a few pages from the book.

THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE is a complete story illustrated by Peter and JM from a John Tomlinson script and is one of three that was commissioned originally to promote the series when Previews ran comics for a short period to promote publishers titles. The other two were written by Steve White and Peter Snejbjerg. The other pages are from the original graphic novel art from Gary Erskine.

US version here, UK version here.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.