The Book of Maggor Thoom by James Turner
SLG Publishing (September 2021)
164 pages; $14.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Beware, Mortal! You hold the forbidden book of Maggor Thoom, a text from beyond sanity! Read further and your puny ape-brain will boil inside your skull and your eyeballs melt into a steaming ooze. For I am a being of impossible thoughts, who dwells on the surface of Azathoth, the living black hole, the cosmic chaos!
Thus begins The Book of Maggor Thoom by James Turner. Maggor Thoom is a demon who lives in Azathoth. His job is to drive mortals insane to feed to the maw, only he’s starting to have feelings and doubts. Driven by an existential crisis, Maggor Thoom tries to run away, but when he’s found out, things get difficult for him.
This graphic novel is a great parody on popular culture. The opening scene of the graphic novel is a board meeting of demons reporting their attempts to drive people insane. Techniques like social media campaigns are discussed, and donuts are offered as a reward. The bootlicking of the demons is beautifully over the top, as are the office politics and little barbs against corporate life. Later, we hear from a cab driver who listens to President Rhump’s podcast and is thankful that the Oligarch Party is looking out for the common man. The satire here throughout this graphic novel is rich and inviting and makes for a layered read.
Of further interest is the stunning art used throughout the novel. Turner’s art is a black and white combination of Edward Gorey’s dark simplicity and figures from Greek pottery. It’s nuanced and detailed, but simplistic enough to be ambiguous and shadowy, which works really well with the themes of the novel. Furthermore, while Turner will use some very traditional graphic formats, he’s not afraid to experiment with full pages of art and text, or sequences that aren’t delineated by traditional boxes. This makes for a very disjointed narrative, which really works well with the story and its themes.
The Book of Maggor Thoom is a really fun book. The horror tropes are there, but they’re used to satirize society and contemporary culture. The art is really stylized and striking, and works to enhance the dark, nightmarish content of the book as well as the themes of madness and ennui. Overall, this is a solid graphic novel for anyone interested in comedic horror with a weird slant, and is strongly recommended.