Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pigeons from Hell adapted by Scott Hampton

Pigeons from Hell
from the short story by Robert E. Howard
adapted by Scot Hampton
Eclipse Books, November, 1988

Robert Ervin Howard wrote 'Pigeons from Hell' in 1934, and the story was published posthumously in Weird Tales in 1938. 

The story deals with John Branner, a New Englander, who is travelling the South with a companion. The two men decide to stay the night in an abandoned plantation home.

Needless to say, staying the night in an abandoned plantation home has its drawbacks, and soon, John Branner finds himself dealing with murder, voodoo, and the awareness that Dark Forces lurk just outside the limits of human comprehension.

'Pigeons' was adapted into a 51-page graphic novel by Scot Hampton and published by the Indie Comics publisher Eclipse, in November 1988. 

Hampton devoted considerable time and effort to crafting this graphic novel, and it shows. His draftsmanship is impressive, and while to some extent the color scheme is under-exposed, it nonetheless works well to give the novel its overall atmosphere of decaying creepiness.

'Pigeons from Hell' has long been out of print, of course, but with a bit of searching, copies in good condition can be found for $10 - $20. These are well worth picking up. 

In 2008, Dark Horse published a four-issue 'Pigeons' miniseries, written by Joe R. Lansdale, with art by Nathan Fox.

In my opinion, the Dark Horse series is mediocre, primarily due to Fox's cartoony approach to the artwork - a cartoony style more suited to one of those incessant X-Men titles that depicts the mutants as younger kids garbed in clothing and gear straight from the aisles of Wet Seal, Forever 21, and Pac Sun........

Hampton's version remains the definitive graphic novel of 'Pigeons from Hell'.


Bobby Trosclair said...

I've never been sure, but thought the lyrics from The Pretenders' 1980s hit "Back on the Chain Gang" referenced this story: "got in the house like the pigeons from hell, threw sand in our eyes and descended like flies. . ."

Any idea?

tarbandu said...

I am familiar with the lyrics to 'Chain Gang' but I never thought to connect them to a Robt E. Howard short story....! But you are right, the lyrics probably do reference the song. Who knew Chrissie Hynde was a pulp fiction fan ?!

David said...

The Scott Hampton adaptation of Pigeons is absolutely definitive. A truly beautiful work that is essential for fans of comic art/story telling and Robert E. Howard. The more recent adaptation is amazing lay bad. Even more painful due to the fact that it was adapted by Joe Lansdale. The great writer was not firing on all cylinders here. I urge all to seek out the Hampton version.