Elric: The Return To Melniboné
As Elric: The Return To Melnibone (sic);
Brighton: Unicorn outsized paperback, 1973;
by Michael Moorcock & Philippe Druillet;
original price: £1·00 (not shown);
I.S.B.N.: 085659-008-8 (not shown);
cover artist: Druillet (also interior);
no British edition.
Elric of Melniboné — proud prince of ruins, kinslayer — call him what you will. He remains, together with maybe Jerry Cornelius, Moorcock’s most enduring, if not always most endearing, character…
Elric: The Return To Melniboné is a short, original graphic novel. It remains, despite its comparative irrelevance to the overall series, one of the scarcest and most sought-after of Elric books. This is the result of its somewhat chequered history, a saga complex enough to rival Elric’s own. It is actually little more than a showcase for the exquisite artwork of Philippe Druillet, beginning life in 1966 as double-spread colour illustrations for the only issue of a French magazine, Moi Aussi, with text by Maxim Jakubowski. In 1969, Druillet illustrated an omnibus called Elric Le Necromancien, and in 1972 some of this (and new) artwork was put into a twenty-one piece portfolio as La Saga D’Elric Le Necomancien, this time with text by Michel Demuth. All of this work up until then was unauthorised, but when the portfolio was reprinted and bound (less one piece) in the U.K. as Elric: The Return To Melnibone (text by Moorcock), Druillet threatened to sue. Moorcock was forced to step in on behalf of the British publishers, pointing out that permission had never been granted for Druillet to draw Elric in the first place. In order to avoid messy litigation, it was decided to allow the small print run to expire, never to be reprinted. However, a republication was finally agreed, the book made available again in 1997 as Elric: The Return To Melniboné — with minor textual amendments; also restoring its original black-and-white format, the earlier edition having been printed in a rather lurid and of-its-time, near-fluorescent purple — and it was later collected (alongside James Cawthorn’s 1976 graphic adaptation of Stormbringer) in 2021’s Elric: The Eternal Champion Collection.