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Rafael Sabatini: Graphic Classics Vol. 13    edited by Tom Pomplun order for
Rafael Sabatini
by Tom Pomplun
Order:  USA  Can
Eureka Productions, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've been a fan of Rafael Sabatini since my father discovered a treasure trove of ancient tattered copies of his books at a library sale (I still have them). Since my favorites of his works are Bellarion, Scaramouche, The Sword of Islam and Captain Blood, my eyes lit up immediately at the cover of this graphic novel, thirteenth in a series of illustrated classics (one of whose stated goals is 'to present adaptations by worthy authors who may be unfamiliar to today's readers.')

This volume includes multiple pieces, illustrated in black and white by a variety of artists. I love the detail (like a tattooed tongue) Hunt Emerson has drawn on pirates accompanying The Buccaneer's Song at the beginning. Rod Lott's adaptation of Captain Blood's thrilling tale is true to the original (though much shorter of course) and nicely illustrated by Carlo Vergara. I also enjoyed the biographical information (much of it new to me) in Desperately Seeking Sabatini by Mort Castle, illustrated by Kevin Atkinson. This finished with a mention of the unforgettable opening lines of Scaramouche, which are inscribed on Sabatini's grave: 'He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.'

Shorter pieces follow Captain Blood. Tom Pomplun has adapted the clever Valet Mystery (illustrated by Stanley Shaw); The Spiritualist (illustrated by Roger Langridge) in which the tables are turned on a trickster; The Plague of Ghosts and counterfeiters, illustrated by Gerry Alanguilan; and The Dream, that reveals a villain's death by hypnotism, pictated by Rich Tommaso. The Fool's Love Story, adapted by Milton Knight, is a tragicomic romance, while The Risen Dead, scripted by Antonella Caputo, and illustrated by Jackie Smith, tells of what comes after a hanging that doesn't quite take.

I'd forgotten till I reread many of these shorts how much an innovator Sabatini was of twisty plots with sneaky endings. Though the quality of its drawings varies, I recommend Rafael Sabatini: Graphic Classics Vol. 13 as a welcome illustrated introduction to the author's short stories, as well as to his swashbuckling Captain Blood, and hope that at least some readers will seek out more of Rafael Sabatini's enthralling historicals.

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