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Friday, 5 March 2010

A forgotten year

We don't plan on running posts about Edwardian fantasy comic Mirabilis here, firstly because it's got its own website and blog, secondly because it is not one of the properties owned by the Fabled Lands Studio, and thirdly because at the time of writing the project is in darker limbo than the bilges of a Uttakin slave ship. You can get a little bit of the flavor of the thing from "A Wrong Turning", a ghostly strip that Martin McKenna and I originally intended to fit into the same world as the main comic but which is now officially a standalone story and absolutely positively nothing to do with Mirabilis. It's free. Click on the pic to your right, Dwight.

Anyway, you fantasy connoisseurs may appreciate the whimsical vignettes on offer at the Royal Mythological Society site which lies adjacent to Mirabilis itself. A green comet is causing the barriers between imagination and reality to blur, and month by month correspondents from around the world write in asking the professors' advice. For instance:

Dear perfessors

I hope that you may help me with my Trouble and do not object to a letter from one as does not know you. I have the agreeable position of regular employment at a public house by the Strand, name of The Three Gypsies. My duties there in the main being the stabling of horses, polishing brasses, & co. I also do in the taprooms and some private bedrooms that are kept for travellers, though not so frequent as in former times, now that the coach stand is not there no more. In the morning I rake out the fires and carry the ashes in a pail, which I have been in the habit of tipping down the drain that is in the street near the entrance to the yard.

Only the other morning I went out that way and saw what had the look of two sooty, or I should say ashen, footprints on the pavement outside. Scuffing at these with my foot had no effect to remove them, and thinking no more I went and poured the ashes down the drain as per usual. Then on the next day I found two bare feet standing there. Just the plain feet, you understand, and not with no body above them, the feet being grey and looking to my eye to be made of ashes. Subsequent to that, having visited the drain on my purpose some other times, the feet have now been joined by ankles and the lower part of the legs, that is the calf.

Mr Bardley, him being the landlord, says not to be tipping the ashes that way no more, but I have become quite driven with Curiosity to find out what will come. Today I tipped out another pail of ashes and in the morrow I’m in expectation of a pair of knees. Do you gents think this is advisable, or is Mr Bardley right?

Yours, Joe Gammock, Raven Row E1

Dr Clattercut replies: Mr Gammock, I have no direct experience of exactly such a phenomenon as you describe, but I implore you to consider all the ways that it could turn out if you continue as you have. One does not have to be an avid reader of the works of Mr Bram Stoker to foresee something rather chilling. There are many bad endings to the story and few good ones.

Prof Bromfield replies: Hmm. You do not say as much in your letter, but I surmise that the pedal extremities in question are feminine, and reasonably shapely. For once I have to agree with Clattercut. If this goes on, Mr Gammock, I feel it could be a case of curiosity killing the cat.

As you can see, despite the usual label applied to any fin-de-siècle fantasy, Mirabilis is not steampunk. This is 1901. Motor cars are the latest thing, not steam trains, and anyway it's more pukka than it is punk. It really belongs to the traditions of English fantasy exemplified by Lord Dunsany, Sidney Sime, A J Alan, John Collier and John Whitbourn - to name a distinguished few. If you like Mr Gammock's tale, there's more in that vein right here.

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