SPOTLIGHT: Two from Campfire – Harry Houdini and Conquering Everest

Just one in a staggering array of small press and indie publishers in the Graphicly catalog, Campfire has distinguished itself with a robust line of literary and historical graphic adaptations. Faithful to their source material and inventive in their own right, Campfire GN’s are also a great bang for your buck. You can even try out their Wright Brothers biography for free. Literary adaptations like The Hound of the Baskervilles, Oliver Twist, Moby Dick and King Solomon’s Mines are each just $3.99 and come packaged with some lovely back-matter. Oliver Twist is a standout with some truly delightful cartooning.

Today I’d like to share and recommend two of my favorites, both from the historical end of the spectrum.

From Harry Houdini by CEL Welsh and Latit Kumar Singh

First up, an impressive biography of one of my all-time heroes Harry Houdini. Brimming with terrific anecdotes about the famed escape artist, it’s an ideal primer for anyone who’s ever been interested about the exploits and inner life of an American legend. Writer CEL Welsh hits many of the major events, including scenes from Houdini’s early life as Ehrich “Ehrie” Weiss in the late 19th century and of course his storied career as a stage performer through his untimely death in 1926. Welsh peppers facsimiles of relevant newspaper clippings and journal entries throughout, employing a young apprentice as an anchor for the nonlinear tale. Houdini’s life was a marvel and this comic captures a lot of what made him so captivating.

Conquering Everest by Lewis Helfand and Amit Tayal

Another comic depicting real life events, Lewis Helfand and artist Amit Tayal’s Conquering Everest: The Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay is a genuinely beautiful and well-researched adventure log. Focusing on multiple expeditions and explorers of the Himalayas, it’s the perfect book for students of history, world affairs and scientific discovery. As you can see from the preview image above, Tayal references and even incorporates photography into his work, but the results are rarely jarring. Overall, the effect is quite impressive, and helps to bring a sense of grandeur and epic scope to the proceedings. The color in particular is a true highlight, making this something of a travel log in the spirit of a National Geographic pictorial. Again, one of the more compelling attempts to bring history alive.

Both titles are available in Graphicly, right this second.



  1. Those both sound quite interesting. I may give’em a sot this weekend.

  2. Hey, Paul, thanks for the great write up! Houdini was my first published graphic novel, and still the one I am most proud of! I’m a massive Houdini geek, and continue writing stories featuring good old Harry. Campfire did a fantastic job, as did Latit Kumar Singh!

  3. As a magician I have a love hate relationship with Houdini. A marvelous escape artist and showman, but a piss poor magician. But he is forever linked in the public’s mind as one of if not the greatest magicians ever. I want to yell at people who ask me about Harry Houdini and tell them to read about Thurston, Devant or Cardini!
    But I digress. The comic looks wonderful and something I may have to pick up this weekend.

    • I hear you. I look to Houdini more as an escapologist and a debunker of spiritualists. I’m a Kellar guy. Maybe just for the posters.

      I also have that recent Thurston book on my to-read stack. And because of this discussion I’ll likely be starting it up this evening.,52939/

    • I could be wrong… But I don’t think Houdini ever called himself a “magician”. I think through the magic of marketing, h was dubbed “The World’s Greatest Magician” by nearly everyone else. With the exception of Kent Nelson, who I think Houdini may have had a number of private altercations. Culminating in Houdini’s crusade against fake mediums, and shady spiritualists…

      …I think.

    • @Paul: Steinmeyer’s book was great. Did you read “Hiding the elephant”?
      @Iamericbass: Houdini did try to bill himself as a magician early and late in his career. He had some very angry fights with magicians and even wrote a horrible book trying to bad mouth his idol Robert Houdin.
      He use to say if he saw a card trick 3 times in a row he could figure it out.
      Dai Vernon did a modified version of the ambitious card trick for him close to 20 times and he never figured it out. Vernon from then on had it printed on his business card “The magician who fooled Houdini”

  4. great books. the houdini is interesting