Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Houdini and the Necronauts

Here's a Houdini mash up graphic novel that I missed when it was released by Rebellion in 2003. Necronauts teams Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Fort, and H.P. Lovecraft in a supernatural thriller (not unlike the recently released Edge of the Unknown). The book was written by Gordon Rennie with illustrations by Frazer Irving.

Set on Halloween Eve in 1926, the story finds Houdini, Conan Doyle, Lovecraft, and Charles Fort pinned inside Houdini's New York home by demons inadvertently summoned by Houdini's experiments exploring the boundaries between life and death. As Fort and Doyle battle the physical creatures in the halls of 278, Lovecraft and Houdini venture into the netherworld to try and defeat the awakened "Sleepers."

Considering the time frame, it's not really a spoiler to reveal that Houdini dies in this story. This makes it unique among printed Houdini fiction in that it suggests an alternate version of his demise (which, of course, must be covered up). It's all good stuff. Hardeen even puts in an appearance, although for some reason he's bald and sports a handlebar mustache.

Unfortunately, this is now not an easy book to find at a reasonable price. It is listed on Amazon, but prices are upwards of $40. However, I did find a listing for it at UK retailer 2000 AD for £7.99. That might be the most affordable way to go.


  1. Good to hear you liked it - I am a big fan of the story.

    $40 is steep but luckily the situation might be about to change for those in the US. We try to keep an eye on upcoming releases and to the best of our knowledge Simon and Schuster will be releasing the collection Tharg’s Terror Tales Presents… Necronauts/A Love Like Blood in time for Halloween this year. It hasn't been announced in their site yet but, at the time of writing, this is in the pipeline.

  2. Oh, thank you for that tip, Emperor. That's one I will definitely share here on the blog when it's available.

  3. No problem.

    Just checking and Simon and Schuster are currently listing their releases through to September 2011, so it should only be a month or two before it gets properly listed and pops up for pre-order on Amazon. I'll drop a note in here if I spot it first.

    While I'm here I might as well punt this question over to you - we've been discussing this (in connection with the JMS film news) and someone reckons they read a possibly Pulp-era short story of Houdini and Conan Doyle team up to fight some supernatural threat (not "Under the Pyramids" obviously), which might be the ancestor of these kinds of stories. Do you know what it might be? I know Houdini has appeared as a character in a lot of fiction (including numerous team-ups with Doyle) but none of those novels quite fit, this side of Arcanum (which you've mentioned around these parts) but that postdates Necronauts by a few years. Unfortunately there is no handy list of Houdini's appearances as a character, as there is for Poe (an article I've worked on), and, as you can imagine, Googling is pretty useless in this situation, so I thought I'd punt it across the the Houdini experts to see what they knew.

  4. You know, that's a good question. There have been MANY Houdini-Doyle team-ups, but what was the first? That might be a question for Arthur Moses. I'll ask him. I've considered doing a list of Houdini's appearances in fiction, but it's daunting. There are just so many. I made an Amazon list of some Houdini fiction, including several Doyle adventures, here:

  5. Coincidentally, I linked to your list in my last post without realising the connection.

    Thanks for asking, it might be they are mistaken but it'd take an expert to tell.

    A list is daunting, which is why crowdsourcing it is a good idea. You could start one on Wikipedia but those kind of articles get a bit of a hard time (have a look at the Poe one for an example, trying to source everything, I've also worked on the Tesla one but it is suffering from terrible bloat). You could always set up a Houdini wiki over on Wikia, which would let you expand to your hearts content - there is one for Lovecraft for example.

  6. As promised... here is the S&S listing for the book, with ISBN. There is no cover yet and it hasn't propagated over to Amazon quite yet but it is now in the pipeline.

  7. Cool! Thank you. I will track this and provides links, etc., when it's available.