You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936
Showing posts with label Lovecraft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lovecraft. Show all posts

Sunday, August 7, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: THE LOVECRAFT ANTHOLOGY VOL 1

The Lovecraft Anthology: v. 1 (Eye Classics)The Lovecraft Anthology: v. 1 by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second graphic adaptation of Lovecraft material I have read from SELFMADE HERO press. The first At the Mountains of Madness was a classy production but possibly suffered from an over-respect for the material. This anthology, containing seven stories from as many illustrators, is much more fun, But the stories themselves are more fun, more lurid, more outrageous than the ponderous and self-important At the Mountains of Madness.

Here are Lovecraft classics such as "The Dunwich Horror," "The Shadow Over Insmouth," "The Call of Cthulhu," and four others. (Am I the only person who has to check the spelling on "Cthulhu" every time I type it?) There is much slithery horror to be had in these stories, and the artists relish it. Nor do the hold back when depicting the New England version of hillbillies that populate the dismal wastelands from Connecticut to Maine. Lovecraft and Erskine Caldwell may seem an unlikely pair, but I have to come to think that Lovecraft does for Yankee psychic depravity what Caldwell did for sexual depravity in the South.

A second volume is due within the year.


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Saturday, July 23, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS (GRAPHIC NOVEL), by H.P. Lovecraft, adapted by I.N.J. Culbard

At the Mountains of Madness: A Graphic NovelAt the Mountains of Madness: A Graphic Novel by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

H.P. Lovecraft wrote, or more accurately, overwrote At the Mountains of Madness in 1936. (That "overwrote" in the preceding sentence already has me on the bad side of avid Lovecraftians.) I read the original years ago when I did most of my Lovecraft reading, and it was never one of my favorites, crucial as it may be to the Cthulhu mythos. Since the Guillermo del Toro film has been canceled, this graphic novel seemed like a good way to revisit the material.

The drawings emphasize that this is a 1930's adventure story. Brave explorer/scientists, as a child one of my favorite hybrids in literature and movies, go to explore the further reaches of Antartica. There they discover the remains of "The Old Ones," those intergalactic drifters who settled on earth millions of years ago, inadvertently set in motion  terrestrial life, and then  had some sort of internal battles and disappeared into the depths of the sea. I don't remember all the details.

I.N.J Culbard's pages are in saturated colors, varying from arctic blue, to the dark browns of the explorers' camps, to the unearthly jade green that dominates the city they discover. That city, as described by Lovecraft and pictured here, never seems particularly well designed for the squid-like creatures who lived there. Why did squids want skyscrapers? One Lovecraftian trademark, not too well served here, is to announce the manifestation of an "indescribable horror" and proceed to describe it for one or two pages. Lovecraft's descriptions attain pulpy grandeur, but the glimpses of a giant amoeba with a bunch of eyes we get here is a letdown.

Self Made Hero, the publisher of this version, has a series of Lovecraft anthologies planned. One volume is out, and with the diversity of artists invovled it promises to give more outrageous visions of Lovecraft's cosmic terrors.


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