Written by Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby
Art by Tiernen Trevallion
Letters and Production by Jim Campbell
Containing a Robbie Burns biography by Jerry Brannigan
Edited by Alexander Finbow
Published by Renegade Arts Entertainment www.renegadeartsentertainment.com
“You are soul-cursed, Robbie Burns, a creature of hell has placed it mark on you, and will not rest until it has brought you into the ranks of its Hellish Legions.”
What if Tam o’Shanter, written by Scotland’s loved poet, was actually based on events that happened to Robert Burns himself? Robbie Burns: Witch Hunter reveals the hidden true story of what really happened on that fateful night…
The Review: So boasts the back blurb on this 99-page graphic novel which does indeed follow the antics of a young roguish Burns as he chases skirt in Ayrshire in the year 1779. He manages to both chase the ladies and get caught doing so by at least one husband. And all during this is searching for that extra special and (no spoilers) famous line of poetry…
“Warlocks and witches in a dance.”
Burns comes across a coven of naked witches and whilst spying on them is spotted and after a vicious fight is saved by Meg and McKay who are a genuine pair of witch hunters. He awakes back at home the following morning full of vigour and enthusiasm to write but again has to fight to survive from hellish creatures. But it turns out he is marked and so has to be trained in shooting and swordplay by one of the witch hunters from earlier, a particularly beautiful one. Fight he does and the book continues apace. Will he end up ‘The Bard of Hell?’ or will he survive?
I am being careful not to spoil as you should be reading this book yourself and it ends perfectly.
One of the writers, Gordon Rennie described Burns as ‘…an ideal main character – a flawed, brilliant hero with a destiny to fulfil.’ This comes across perfectly. Burns is vulnerable, artistic and brave when faced with peril.
“Lord save us from young lads with their brains packed into their britches.”
This book was an absolute joy from page one. I’m ashamed I missed it the first time round but over the moon that I can now review it in time for the upcoming Burns Night this coming Sunday. It is chock full of humour, tension, horror, action and beauty, coupling a feeling of Solomon Kane, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and Duncan Fegrado’s Hellboy issues from Dark Horse Comics. The line work and colour palette gives a sense of shadow and drama that just blew me away. It also, it has to be said, delivers some very sexy ladies. You can imagine a young Ingrid Pitt or Caroline Munro cast in a movie like this: it’s full of Hammer Horror style, with bursting corsets that reveal monsters beyond. (No, not like that.)
The art by Tiernan Trevallion is soaked in the rugged beauty of the Scottish countryside and is full of old stone bridges, graveyards, fields, hills and small towns that just scream a combination of history and magic. It celebrates the literary hero of a nation with both affection and humour.
There is a wealth of back matter that has character designs, sketches and a biography of the poet.
I absolutely adored every single moment of this lovingly put together comic. You know those teenagers who glaze over when you bring up poetry? This is the book to give them. Call it a Burns Night bonus.
• You can find a copy of this at www.renegadeartsentertainment.com
• Find out more about Robbie Burns the poet (and the odd witch) at www.robertburns.org
• Follow Emma Beeby on Twitter @emmabeeby
• Tiernen Trevallion’s official web site is at: http://tiernentrevallion.co.uk
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.