Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Horror-Mood: On A Pale Horse (Innovation, 1991)

I can't let Halloween pass us by without a few obscure Horror gems! First up is Innovation's adaption of Piers Anthony's On A Pale Horse, from his Incarnations of Immortality series. 

It's about a guy named Zane, who's down on his luck and commits suicide after dealing with a mysterious gem salesman, who had cheated him out of romance through a Lovestone, and predicts Zane's demise with a Deathstone. Only problem is, Zane accidentally kills Death, and has now been chosen to take the open job of Grim Reaper.

Piers Anthony released the novel in 1983 as the first of seven books dealing with seven supernatural entities in a parallel universe to ours. Death was the first, and then there was Time, Fate, War, Nature, Evil and Good. Innovation adapted On A Pale Horse in 1991, featuring fantastic painted art from the likes of Mike Okamoto, Matt Thompson and Brad Gorby.

And I have to admit, watching someone forced to take the job of Grim Reaper is a pretty neat idea. I don't plan to spoil too much because I want people to seek these amazing issues out (they are well worth it!), so here are just a few pages from the first book:

The story begins as Zane meets the magic gem merchant. While checking out the Deathstone, it immediately turns black, signalling Zane's upcoming demise.

The gem salesman sells Zane a Lovestone, and that one tells him that love is in his short lifespan. But since Zane is unable to pay for the gem, the salesman follows him to the beautiful girl the Lovestone had signaled and steals her.

Zane had already been at the end of his ropes, and this just throws him over the edge. Depressed, he prepares to take his own life, but before he pulls the trigger Death steps in front of him and gets shot instead!

Fate arrives, first as an old woman, and then as a younger, beautiful lady. She informs Zane that he now has the job of the Grim Reaper. She helps him put on Death's cloak and quickly explains the role before urging him to get to work as she disappears.

The new Grim Reaper finds a sweet ride in that of Mortis, who can direct him to the souls he needs to claim.

Death quickly learns that taking the first soul is never easy...

After taking his first few souls, including one of a small baby, Zane has had it. He is confused, fed up with the task, and searching for answers. The first book ends as a frustrated Death encounters Time, who will hopefully have some of the answers he is looking for.

I came away really impressed with this first book. The painted illustrations were pretty amazing, and this is some quality stuff coming from Innovation. Sadly, only 5 of the 6 books intended for the adaptation were ever released, as Innovation shut their doors before Book 6 ever saw the light of day.

I plan to read the rest of the books and feature more of this fantastic art sometime in the near future, so be on the lookout for that. Better yet, do yourself a favor and seek them out if you can, as they aren't too expensive or hard to find.

Stay tuned as there are a few more treats in the bag this Halloween!


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