The Great and Secret Show #1


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The Great and Secret Show #1


  • Words: Chris Ryall
  • Art: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Inks: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Colors: Jay Fotos
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Apr 5, 2006

Randolph Jaffe was besieged by banality until he discovered the secret existence of the Art while working at the dead letter office in Omaha.

I have always been a big fan of Clive Barker, and in fact read his novel The Great and Secret Show when it came out nearly two decades ago. The book was a colossal tug of war between good and evil and many of the themes depicted in the novel were ripe for the comic book medium. Thank goodness IDW Publishing has finally found the good sense to adapt Clive’s book.

The story opens with Randolph Jaffe starting a new job at the dead letter office in Omaha, Nebraska. Randolph is a destitute looking man with an unhealthy disposition, but all that quickly changes once he finds a medallion that can unlock the secrets to the art. He quickly realizes that America has a secret history and when pieced together it will lead him to the dream sea (the source of all existence) known as Quiddity. Along the way he meets Richard Fletcher, a man with similar aspirations so he commissions him to help build a clear path to fully understanding and help harness the power of the art. The only trouble here is that Fletcher double crosses Randolph, thus setting up the classic good versus evil dictum.

Now that’s just a brief synopsis of the events of the first issue, and believe me there is so much more going on here. The story resonates with imaginative ideas and writer Chris Ryall successfully pared down the story to the bare essentials. This worked well for me since Clive is known to be a true visionary and has an overabundant imagination. I have read other comic adaptations of Clive’s work in the past and often found them to be a little uneven, but that’s not the case here. Chris managed to hit all the high notes as far as pacing and plotting are concerned, and he had me wanting more. I guess I will have to wait for the next issue to get my fix though.

The artist chosen to adapt this story was Gabriel Rodriguez. I really liked his take on the characters and I especially liked the way he managed to infuse Randolph Jaffe with enough sinister facial gestures that bordered on the sublime. It gave the story the added extra dimension it needed, and along with his steady pacing the opening issue worked well for me. I will be real curious to see Gabriel’s take on the more imaginative moments that occur throughout the novel, so I expect big things in the subsequent issues to come down the pipe.

I think this is the perfect opening to an adaptation that needed telling. Clive’s Great and Secret Show is one of his most beloved and seminal works among the fans and IDW is off to a fine start here. I know we are only one issue in, but I see success written all over this series and I hope this opens the flood gates for more adaptations of Clive’s work. In the meantime though, check out this one and let a great story blow you away.

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