Is there much of a market for snarky comic pastiches of turn of the century adventure fiction? You’d think perhaps not, but then there shouldn’t be a market for dried up old harridans writing a book about grammar, but there was. Of course The Vesuvius Club is mainly going to attract readers due to being written by Mark Gatiss of the League Of Gentlemen, not its subject matter. And the self styled “bit of fluff” is entertaining, even if it would be next to impossible to judge it as a pastiche (as I have not read as much Fu Manchu etc as I should). I suspect though that it is shy of much of the casual racism which filled many such books, and am certain that the much more sexually liberated side of the book is very modern.

What it did remind me of, despite being a completely different form, was Alan Moore’s League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Whilst not having the near obsessive level of (fictional) detail that Moore created in trying to find a thread of continuity between all Victorian fiction, Gatiss clearly finds the era an exciting one to play with. In using the kind of nonsense science that could be justified before real science kicked in, Gatiss can threaten the world with contemporaneous volcanic eruptions, just as Moore could happily fit layers of Victorian Martian dreams into his comic.

As such it is fitting that a graphic novel edition has just been released. If it accurately renders the action of the novel in pictures this should be an exceptionally graphic edition. I’ll nip off and give it a look-see for later review, but it should be just as much fun as the original. And with more Lucifer Box to come in 2006 it looks like going beyond just a bit of fluff. Hopefully, in picking Edwardian and later literature to plunder in Moore’s later editions of the League OF Extraordinary Gentlemen, a nod to Lucifer Box could be made.