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THE FACELESS: A TERRY SHARP STORY
Image Comics
REVIEW BY Andrew Screen

We've not really dabbled in the world of graphic novels much here at Action TV, but this new title really does deserve to be bought to the attention of a wider audience given its themes and setting. Imagine if you will a pilot episode for a lost 60s action adventure series with supernatural overtones. Imagine a collison between such TV favourites as The Avengers or Adam Adamant Lives! and classic horror movies such as The Devil Rides Out or Night Of The Demon. If you can imagine all that then you'll have a pretty good idea of the kind of adventure romp contained in this release.

Writer Robert Tinnell (director, scriptwriter and producer on numerous independant films) and artist Adrian Salmon (perhpas most noted for his illustrations for Doctor Who Magazine) have produced this little gem in what is planned to be the first in a proposed series of 1960s set adventures starring square jawed hero Terry Sharp who by day is a hard-living, skirt-chasing, celebrated director of classic British horror films. But by night Terry fights a secret group of satanists hell-bent on taking control of the government. The satanists will stop at nothing, using both bullets and witchcraft to try and kill Sharp.

The fast-paced storyline really does feel like a pilot as we are first introduced to Sharp fleeing from unseen assassins and breaking into the house of his trusted friend Major Harvey Clarke. Our hero quickly dispatches his pursuers and next we are flung into Sharp's daytime job as director of the film The Return Of Frankenstein for Midwich Productions (a company not dissimiliar to Hammer or Amicus). Here Sharp is directing his star Peter Lingham (who has a striking resemblance to Peter Cushing) in a setting and scenario British horror fans will enjoy tremendously with all its in-jokes and character names echoing real-life stars and technicians. For the record I spotted namechecks for Freddie Francis, Andre Morrell and Val Guest, but I'm sure there are more that I missed on first reading.

Illustrator Adrian Salmon has a strikingly bold and angular graphic style which really serves the shadowy climax of the episode well as Sharp and colleagues are trapped in a magic circle with half-seen demons circling around it waiting to rip them to shreds. The artwork is further embellsihed by a bold use of colouring which helps the capture the feel of 60s film stock perfectly.

The Faceless also features an imaginary essay on the film Sharp is meant to be directing in the story, backed up with an interview with actress Suzanne Morrell and the opening title sequence of the film in comic strip form. These little extras are a welcome embellishment on the world of Terry Sharp who I hope to enjoy more adventures of very soon.

If you're a fan of 60s action TV series of British horror films of the period then this a perfect way to pass an hour and be reminded why you enjoy the genre some much and imagine what a fantastic TV series it would have really made! I can't wait for the second instalment.

Image Comics , paperback, 64 pages, published October 2005 price £4.50

For further details, background information and to view a trailer for the grahic novel : http://theblackforest.net/terrysharp/

To order in the UK go to : http://www.fpigraphics.co.uk/acatalog/The_Faceless_A_Terry_Sharp_Story.html