Wars: Episode 1 - Queen Amidala, 1999, Dark Horse.
A story around the main female character in the film.
Russell has done the layouts and the inking, and Galen Showman
has penciled the damn thing. It looks good, of course, the storytelling
is nice, but... it's a Star Wars story, and it 'showcases' Amidala
and Jar Jar. What else can I say?
Ring of the Nibelung.
- book 1, The Rhinegold 1-4, 2000, Dark Horse.
- book 2, The Valkyrie 1-3, 2000, Dark Horse.
- book 3, Siegfried 1-3, 2000-2001, Dark Horse.
- book 4, GötterDämmerung 1-4, 2001, Dark Horse.
- The first two books are also available in the first Ring
collection and the
last two in the second one.
On the Dark
Horse site, there's an interview of Russell, and also some
pages from the first issue along with all the covers.
some of the comics, you'll find drawings and sketchbooks which
Russell has done over the years for these stories. In fact,
he had already adapted a small part of Siegfried's story in
Opus 7, and there's also
a 1979 portfolio on these themes (see Pinups
comics! 424 pages! That's what it took for Russell to adapt
Richard Wagner's tetralogy, a great story of gods and men, of
lust for power and redemption through fire and love. Wagner
drew his inspiration from Nordic mythology but took some liberties,
especially in the way he unfolded his vision of the themes of
Russell and Patrick Mason, who translated the text from the
german libretto, didn't try to go back to the sources but decided
to be faithful to the operas themselves.
Russell's version of the gods are very influenced by the way
they have usually been represented in the operas (apart from
Logé, the fire-god, who is shown as a sprite). They are
not olden days gods, but rather characters on a stage who play
their parts, none of them able to ignore their fates, their
impending doom woven by the Norns.
Russell is clearly at his peak as an artist. The fluidity of
his layouts, the details of his pencils which give life to stones,
trees and beings, all this shows how much in control of his
art he is. The color art by Kindzierski is also very beautiful,
full of texture for some scenes, shining and monochromatic for
others. This is very close to a perfect comic.
And just for fun, here are the b&w versions of a few of
the comics' covers:
the vampire slayer: Tales of the Slayers - Presumption,
2002, Dark Horse.
This book is an anthology showing the "slayers" (the
current one being Buffy) throughout the ages. Russell drew an
eight-page story, written by Jane Espeson, which takes place
at the beginning of the 19th century, during a reception among
More than the usual fight between the slayer and a vampire,
it is a well crafted reflexion on the boundaries placed upon
women by society. Russell's art, with its attention to detail
and its dead straight storytelling, perfectly shows the hidden
shadows which lurk behind the beautiful clothes, the floodlit
ballroom, the codified relationships between men and women.
This is a society where people are often refined and deadly...
like all the best vampires.
Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde - The Devoted Friend.
A 15-page Oscar Wilde fairy tale.
Included in The Fairy
Tales of Oscar Wilde Vo. 4, published by NBM in April
A very cynical and sad story, The Devoted Friend sees
a young gardener whose friendship with a very bourgeois miller
is daily abused by the miller, which the rather naive gardener
P. Craig Russell has used his cartoony style to adapt this tale,
and the combination of the whimsical art with the bleak happenings
is rather chilling. Even the talking animals introducing and
concluding the stories, which look cute and which Russell probably
had fun drawing, do nothing to cheer up the reader. But after
all, traditional fairy tales often didn't end well for the protagonists,
despite what Disney would have us believe.
50 In Flanders
Field, 2002, Dark Horse.
Two pages in 9-11 Volume 1.
An adaptation of a a well-known poem from World War I, this
is Craig Russell's contribution to one of the anthologies published
after the New York City terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
After the Ring cycle, it's fascinating to see Russell
work again on a very short story. His talent for adaptation,
that is, the way he finds new meaning to existing works, is
very apparent in this powerful piece. He finds connections between
the experiences of WWI soldiers and the men and women who lived
and died in New York City on that day, without resorting to
51 Murder Mysteries.
A 64-page hardcover edition, June 2002, Dark Horse.
And here is another Neil Gaiman/P. Craig Russell collaboration,
after The Sandman #
50 and the Moorcock
story. This time, Russell adapts a short story written by Gaiman
some years ago (it's included in his short stories collections).
angel is found dead in the streets of the Silver City, long,
long ago, in the days before the universe came into existence.
That is what an old man tells a younger man, one December night
in contemporary Los Angeles. The rest of the tale concerns various
angels involved in the investigation, including the captain
of the host, Lucifer. It also concerns two concepts, new at
the time of murder, called "love" and "death".
Guilty parties abound, and the innocents might not be spared
you can see, this is pure Gaiman. Using old myths to spin post-modern
tales is something Gaiman has being doing for some time, now.
But this is also pure Russell. The man was born to draw angels,
particularly the ones looking very masculine, although
without the usual appendages. It is also very interesting to
see him draw some real-life scenes (the ones in L.A.). I'd love
to see Russell adapt some modern stories. He has a way of drawing
a contemporary city which makes it almost as strange as Asgard
or the Silver City.
In The Comics Journal Special Edition Volume 2 - Summer
2002, published by Fantagraphics.
This is a three-page biography of the composer Erich Korngold.
Published in a wider-than-high format, this is another example
of Russell's wonderful storytelling. This story is obviously
close to his heart, and the way he blends Korngold's life with
the turmoils of his time is very moving. He also manages to
make a few points about the various cliques which are always
trying to put down one musical movement after another.
53 The Sandman: Death
A 24-page story in The Sandman: Endless Nights graphic
novel, DC Comics/Vertigo, 2003.
Craig Russell has written a
post on his forum about his adaptation of Neil Gaiman's
is the fourth collaboration between Neil Gaiman and P. Craig
Russell. This is another story with Death, the cute punk version
of the reaper, which Gaiman 'created' for his Sandman
A boy meets Death on an island near Venice, and years later,
the man he's become will meet her again and go with her to meet
a group of aristocrats who've been reveling day after day for
centuries. This might be one of the best stories Gaiman has
written, with a fractured structure and a sense of melancholy
which he's always done well. As for the art, it's another example
of Russell at his peak, as much for the layouts as for the line
54 Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde - Nightingale and the
A 15-page Oscar Wilde Fairy Tales adaptation, published
by NBM alongside Opus 49 in April 2004.
You can see a few pages here.
A poor student pines for his love who's asked him for a red
rose in exchange for a dance with him. And there are no red
roses in his garden... It will take the poetic sacrifice of
a nightingale to bring him one, but that might not be enough
to win his love over.
Drawn in a realistic style (apart from some talking animals),
Russell's art brings to paper the sense of doom and failure
which permeates the story. Wilde definitely didn't write feel-good
An eight-page story in The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings,
Dark Horse Comics, 2003.
Russell drew this story from the beginning of a screenplay by
Mike Richardson. A low-key, disturbing tale which sees first
a kid, and then adults entering an abandoned house never to
reappear, it also gives us the opportunity to see Craig Russell
working on a story which has no (visual) fantasy elements whatsoever,
and so highlights his finely chiseled storytelling. The last
page (which I'm not showing here, it would be a pity) is for
me among his most striking.
The Last Castle.
A 48-page prestige format comic written by Bill Willingham,
DC Comics/Vertigo, 2003.
Framing sequence pencilled and inked by P. Craig Russell, with
the main story pencilled by Craig Hamilton, with layouts and
inks by P. Craig Russell.
Here is a preview,
courtesy of the publisher.
is an excellent continuing series created and written by
Bill Willingham, about various characters from fables and legends
who have escaped to our world, following a war with an as-yet
mysterious Adversary who's conquered all their lands. 'The
Last Castle' tells the story of their last stand. Russell
and Hamilton's art is perfectly suited to this tale, which is
rather dark and bloody.
An 8-page story in Hellboy: Weird Tales # 6, Dark Horse,
Written Will Pfeiffer, this story sees Hellboy discovering
the truth behind a Grand Guignol troupe. Russell uses his cartoony
style, which is perfectly suited to an over-the-top gory story
with no claim to depth or nuance. This is stricly for fun, although
the storytelling is as effective as ever.
58 The Godfather's
A 32-page black & white comic adapting the opera Cavalleria
Rusticana, NBM, February 2004.
Also included in
The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations vol.3.
played alongside I Pagliacci, another opera adapted
for comics by P. Craig Russell, Cavalleria Rusticana
is also a story of adultery and revenge, set in 19th century
Italy. Here titled The Godfather's Code for its use in
the film The Godfather III, Russell's adaptation is a
joy to behold.
Printed from his uninked pencils, the art is elegant and refined,
and while the plot is rather thin, it offers a lot of opportunities
for the display of Russell's mastery of body language and facial
A 40-page comic, DC Comics/Vertigo, May 2004.
Here's a preview
issue tells a special story for the Mike Carey-penned series,
a spin-off of Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Set rather early
in the history of the universe, its shows how Lilith, the rejected
first wife of Adam, gave birth to many kids, from demon fathers...
as well as from some angels. Although this is a good comic by
itself, it's rather funny to have in mind Russell's work on
Murder Mysteries, the Neil Gaiman story
about (among other things) angels at the dawn of time. In both
comics, beautiful and rather masculine angels contend with their
creator's seeming lack of interest in their life. And in both
books, Russell's artwork is absolutely wonderful, giving each
angel a specific body language and showing them as unique creatures.
You can read this comic without knowing the Lucifer series,
but of course, you'll get more out of it if you read the rest
of the comics first. It will be included in a future collection
of the series.
A 6-page sequence in that anniversary issue written by Brian
Bendis, November 2004.
Matt Murdock/Daredevil meets various people in that issue,
among them Captain America. Russell gets to draw that meeting
in Central Park. He gives Captain America a classical, handsome
face that's at the same time coherent with his own style and
with the long history of the character. He also shows again
his storytelling skills, with complex and varied layouts, using
the surrounding nature in a psychological way (trees separating
the two men when they don't understand each other, for example).
It's nice to see Russell drawing the real world (or as real
as it gets in superhero comics).