HP Lovecraft has undergone something of a renaissance of late. Alan Moore’s recent ‘Neonomicon’ series introduced the author to a new generation of readers by placing his work and mythos at the centre of an investigation into a cult.
While that series created a new angle to look at the author from, it’s important not to overlook his actual body of work that made Lovecraft as popular as he is.
Taking nine of Lovecraft’s stories and adapting them to a comic format is no mean feat. The author’s work sparks the imagination in such a way that his creations are open to interpretation and no two illustrations are going to be the same.
This is especially evident in ‘From Beyond’ where a scientist has developed a method to view other planes of existence and encounters an alien world. Scratchy purples and constellation-shaped creatures are used to illustrate this reality. It looks amazing, perfect for the era but perhaps nothing that anyone could ever draw would match up with Lovecraft’s prose.
Other notable contributions include ‘The Nameless City’ which introduces Lovecraft’s Cthulhu to the world and ‘The Picture In The House’ which is a good old-fashioned horror story. The latter is illustrated by Mick McMahon, who creates a sinister fairytale world. Matt Timson’s wintery work on ‘The Festival’ also stands out.
The collection finishes up with ‘The Statement Of Randolph Carter’, in which the title character, loosely based on Lovecraft himself, relates a paranormal experience that took the life of his exploring partner. Unfortunately, the finality and eeriness of the tale doesn’t translate well into comics and the story is better told in text alone.
It’s an issue that haunts this collection. Not every story needs to be illustrated and what we can’t see is much more effective than anything that can ever be drawn. It’s not a criticism of Lockwood or anyone else who contributed to this book, as it’s obviously a labour of love for them. Rather, I question the need for it. Ironically, enough this was something Lovecraft agreed with, preferring suggestion to illustration. However, given how much he defied convention in his writing, I’m sure he’d appreciate the efforts.
A strong but perhaps unnecessary offering that might encourage some younger readers to pick up more of Lovecraft’s work. Just don’t expect it to be read from around the campfire.
(pub: Self Made Hero. 128 page softcover graphic novel. Price: £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-906838-43-0)
check out website: www.selfmadehero.com