Feb 9, 2009

[Comics] The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft

The Strange Adventures of H.P. LovecraftEver since I started The Geeky Guide to Nearly Everything, I've been fortunate enough to get contacted by a variety of folks over the years. This has lead to strong relationships with sites like the Viral Video Chart and with other interesting offers to test out new sites, software and services.

Most recently I was lucky enough to get contacted by the folks behind this upcoming comic book (via Image Comics) to do a review prior to its April 8 official release date, probably because of my recent review of Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, where I mentioned my love for Lovecraft tales. Let's face it - Lovecraft is a landmark writer in the annals of horror story writing and he helped us all consider that sometimes even the very letters on a page can be horrific and magical in their nature.

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft tries to explore the life of H.P. Lovecraft in a very alternative manner - by presenting the alternative reality where his stories are not just works of fiction but very real dangers just lurking beneath the surface. Much like the characters of his own stories, Lovecraft becomes exposed to an ancient text that somehow corrupts him and turns his dreams and nightmares into reality while he sleeps. Given the nature of the creatures that haunt his thoughts and make their way into his stories, you can imagine the dark visions in his imagination and the potential damage they can do on the world.

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for explorations of what we would normally tag as the familiar such as well-known characters from popular stories or re-imaginations of fact or history such as what this comic book mini-series is trying to do. To marry Lovecraft as character with the very tales he is most famous for is probably so classic an idea that one can't help but wonder why it hasn't been executed well before. Maybe there's just too much pressure around handling something as "big" as Lovecraft.

The first issue starts out a tad slow, which does make one think of how Lovecraft's tales would also unfold initially. There's a lot of build-up that needs to get done in order to better acquaint the readers with H.P. Lovecraft himself and not just his work, which makes sense for any story's protagonist. He's a rather quite and withdrawn man as depicted in his unrequited love for a girl named Sylvia and his struggle to come up with new stories despite a nasty case of writer's block. Given this, there wasn't much action in this first issue except towards the very end, which makes me think a lot about the cliffhanger nature of most current TV shows.

The art is done in a style that feels unfinished or unpolished, which works well given the nature of the story. We're talking about going back to the 1920's, which was in some ways a simpler time compared to today, and yet a prime ground for monsters and ghouls to take hold. It also seems to match the overall tone of the story itself, keeping the reader in a general sense of gloom or anxiety in the same way so many horror films avoid the more vibrant aspects of the color spectrum.

There's bound to be a whole lot more happening beyond the first issue, so don't get too excited yet. It does act as a setup piece, after all, especially since it needs to acquaint new readers who many not be as exposed to the Lovecraft brand of writing beyond hearing of the name as associated with the horror genre. However overall the story does sound very promising and if the first issue is any clear indicator, it looks like they've put in a lot of work to have the books feel like Lovecraft's own tales of horror, which is laudable indeed.

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft #1 hits stands on April 8, 2009 via Image Comics. Be sure to keep a look out for this interesting and certain weird comic series!

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