In an earlier post I explained why I. N. J. Culbard is to blame for my interest in graphic novels. Well, I've been seduced by him once again, this time by his adaptation of a series of stories from a book by Robert Chambers called The King in Yellow.
Here are two quick photos of the graphic novel to get you started. The first is a cover shot; the second, a sample of the artwork.
There's really no simple way to summarize what Mr. Culbard has attempted in this book, and so I won't try. The original stories are loosely linked by repeated references to a strange play, The King in Yellow, that has the power to drive its readers insane. As you can imagine, each story is suitably bizarre, and Mr. Culbard captures the weird atmosphere with his usual skill.
The book was originally published in 1895. (You can find the American edition on this page.) The first four stories"The Repairer of Reputations," "The Mask," "In the Court of the Dragon," and "The Yellow Sign"are the ones adapted by Mr. Culbard, although I see that he has slightly changed their order, which really makes no difference, given that there isn't a continuous plotline that runs from the beginning to the end of the stories.
You might be interested to know that The King in Yellow caught the attention of H. P. Lovecraft. (Go to the text of his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" and scroll down to his brief discussion of Chambers.) Presumably, HPL knew what he was doing, and since he doesn't discuss the rest of the book, I can only assume that our four stories are the highlight of the book.
If you like weird fiction, then you'll enjoy the stories as well as their graphic adaptation. You just need to know in advance that they're not telling you a longer tale that somehow encompasses the action of all four stories. If you don't know that, then you might feel let down when you reach the end.
One last thing. If you've stumbled upon this post because you're wondering about the relationship between The King in Yellow and the first season of HBO's True Detective, then you should know that reading the stories (or Culbard's graphic adaptation of them) won't help you in the least to understand the TV series. The show's menacing allusions to Carcosa and the Yellow King contribute to the mysterious atmosphere surrounding the investigation into the murder of Dora Lange. But if you ask me, that's all that they do. You don't need to know anything about Chambers to appreciate the show.