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Friday, 26 November 2010

Ultimate Harryhausen - Master of the Majicks

Master of the Majicks is a three volume illustrated history of the career of Oscar winning, stop-motion special effects master Ray Harryhausen, written by British journalist Mike Harkin and published by Archive Editions in the USA. The first book of the set to be published was Volume 2 - The American Films and this has now been followed by Volume 3 - The British Films which is now ready for release. Volume 1, ironically the last of the set to be published, is due in spring /summer 2011.

Master of the Majicks Volume 3 covers the films that Ray Harryhausen created whilst living in the United Kingdom, running chronologically from The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver in 1960 to Clash Of The Titans in 1981. It therefore includes Jason And The Argonauts with its outdoor skeleton fight, considered by many to be the greatest stop motion set piece ever filmed. With a foreword by The Golden Voyage of Sinbad's Caroline Munro and a preface by Hellboy's Guillermo del Toro, the A4 size hardback runs to a remarkable 640 pages and includes over 3600 colour and black & white photos and other illustrations.

The book's author Mike Harkin recently presented a preview copy to the now 90 year old Harryhausen in his London home and said of the meeting, "Ray met me at the door of his home and soon I was unwrapping his copy of the book. For the next two hours his eyes hardly left the book as he studied every page. Only a few pages were turned before his first exclamation: 'Oh my God - 3D pictures!' as he reached for the 3D glasses on his side table. It seemed that with each page he said, 'Where did you get those pictures? I have never seen them before!' Ray had only reached the chapter on Mysterious Island before he leaned back and said, 'I have never seen such a spectacular book. The layouts are beautiful, and the pictures leap out at you. You have done me a great honour by putting this book together.' At one stage Ray had tears in his eyes, he was so thrilled with it.

"The two and half hours I was with Ray just flew past, but it was getting late. I thought he was going to crush my hand as he held it tightly and said, 'This is a book to treasure. I can't imagine anyone who loves our films not wanting to buy this book. Thank you so much!'"

With such a sumptuous, low print-run, book there is always the drawback of cost. Volume 3 costs $84.95 plus postage from the USA, however copies are available from London's Cinema Store which has a excellent history of promoting Ray Harryhausen books in the UK. If $85 seems a lot for a single book then consider that copies of the sold out Volume 2 are currently being offered on US Amazon Marketplace for over $1200 each.

There are more details of Master of the Majicks Volume 3 on the Archive Editions website including sample pages and a slide show of some of the photos from the book.

There is more on the career of Ray Harryhausen on his official website.

There is an article about the British Clash Of The Titans comic strips on Bear Alley.


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