The Books of Magic were, after Sandman, the second graphic novel touched by Neil Gaiman, I read. I was hoping it would develop into a similar epic Sandman turned into. It did, but after Gaiman left as a story-writer, it was not the same.
Still, even in the comparatively few pages I read, there is enough to form a beautiful and touching story. Looking back now, there is also a pinch of Steampunk apparent in The Books of Magic, but I am getting ahead of myself here.
The first collected volume I read because my local comic shop owner (the shop in question is Page 45, Nottingham, UK) recommended it to me. The second I ordered the following week (because I did not get into the city earlier, I worked late most days and had to go from Bilborough back to Saint Anns, for those who are familiar with the city). I would have ordered it the next day otherwise…
So I became enthralled with The Books of Magic. I cheered Tim along on his quest and also got interested in the Trenchcoat Brigade.
I thought hell, as depicted in the graphic novel, was a rather cool place, in a weird sort of way, and I absolutely loathed Titania. She really is a major-league mean piece of work.
Her husband Auberon seems decent enough, but at least in the books I read, he’s off far worse getting trapped by strange Victorian techno-magic.
And that’s the part Steampunk comes in. There is this troupe of seemingly immortal Victorians, led by a top-hat wearing cyborg Reverend Slagingham, selling soul-traps in the streets of London.
That is more or less as far as I went along with The Books of Magic, OK; there is this other weird bit where Molly is a princess and an alternative future Sir Timothy a dragon, but I did not enjoy it at all.
The mystery of the first collected volume, Gaiman’s run, never returned. What made me continue was first, Leah (see below) and of course the hope that the story would pick up again. Which I thought it did not.
But now a thought on one of the most memorable characters: Leah the Succubus. I think she is the most lovely, sweet and kind bad girl in the history of comic books. As a succubus, she is the mythical manifestation of the Bad Girl. She should be a seductress, a demon breaking Tim and dragging him down into the pits of hell. She isn’t. She is really sweet, lovely and nice. She cares deeply for Tim, and to a certain degree Molly, hates her “master” Martyn, and is rather frustrated about Lucifer’s rebellion.
I thought it rather sad when she transformed into a mermaid and dropped out of the storyline.
This was also one of the reasons I did not continue reading the comic. A bit sad, really. But there is one other facette, I should mention:
Death appears twice in the volumes I read. After heaving encountered her before in Sandman and thinking she was cute, I went back to Page 45 and enquired if she had her own comic. I was delighted when I found out she did.
But that’s another story…