Saturday, March 29, 2014
On the designs of the Black Riders in Dark Horse's Solomon Kane: Death's Black Riders
It's a pretty strong piece of pulp fiction turned elegantly illustrated pulp comics. Still wandering the Black Forest after his adventure in the previous series, Kane comes across a strange scene. A band of gypsies was in the process of being robbed by a pair of highwaymen, when the entire group was attacked by bizarre and hideous monsters. Kane intervenes, killing most of the creatures, and then he and one survivor hole up in a lonely inn called "The Cleft Skull," where "Rattle of Bones" is adapted...and then the monsters return in greater numbers to besiege the inn.
As with the previous volume, Mike Mignola provides a great cover, one so solid in design and execution that I wished the interior art was in the same style, and Guy Davis provides the monster designs, as the generous portion of backmatter makes clear.
And man, these are some really great monster designs. So great, in fact, that it almost seems a waste that Davis septn so much time and creative energy so thoroughly designing them, right down to forms of locomotion and the way the creatures might store their weapons on their bodies, that it seems a shame that they exist only in this miniseries, and even then, Guevara has somewhat redesigned them (Also as with the previous volume, there's a short comics story in here as well; "All the Damned Souls at Sea," which is drawn by Guy Davis and originally appeared in a pair of MySpace Dark Horse Presents issues. In it, Kane fights a scary-looking witch, and then a curse-created monster built out of boat pieces).
It's my understanding that the "Death's Black Riders" fragment is just that, a fragment, with only a few lines actually completed by Howard. Those lines involved Kane meeting, in the words of whoever handles the Sa olomon Kane Wikipedia page, "a shadowy ghost rider on the road."
In designing the riders, Allie said he wanted a monster that could be mistaken for Solomon Kane on the road at first sight, and, indeed, here is Guevara's first image of a rider from the story:
What he came up with is pretty fantastic:
That design couldn't hold a sword, however, so Davis then gives his rider arms, and it looks almost completely alien now:
Guevara draws each of the creatures a little different though. Here are some images of them:
Finally, how artist Darrick Robertson, who drew the individual covers for each of the issues in the series, rendered the riders: