Lovecraft: Four Classic Horror Stories
Original stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Adapted and Illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard
Publisher: Self Made Hero
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
As some of you no doubt know, I love me some Lovecraft. His tales of cosmic horror and fantasy speak to me the loudest and to say that they have influenced many, many, MANY authors and artists would be like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. That said, not every take or adaptation on his work hits the mark. Some just don’t get it, some things just don’t translate well, and some try to inject too much of their own opinions into things and still call it “H.P. Lovecraft’s…” So a book with the guts to simply call itself Lovecraft had better deliver the goods. So does this latest attempt to bring the gentleman from Providence’s words to life in a graphic novel (that’s comic book for the non-uppity) format? Well, let’s find out.
Lovecraft is a collection of four of HPLs stories, and as a collection they might not be the four stories you would expect. There is “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” starting things off with the very weird world of H.P.’s Dreamlands and as such it is a mix of horror and fantasy but oh-so-satisfying. Then there is the wonderful “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” that horror film fans may recognize as director Dan O’Bannon’s unjustly overlooked The Resurrected from 1991. Then there is Lovecraft’s longest and most ambitious work, “At the Mountains of Madness,” which has inspired everything from John Carpenter’s The Thing to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Last there is one of HPL’s last stories, the time-bending “The Shadow out of Time.”
Writer and illustrator I.N.J. Culbard does double duty here, adapting Lovecraft’s stories to comic book format and doing the art throughout, and in both endeavors he (she?) succeeds. The stories are abbreviated somewhat out of necessity but the heart, soul, and wonder of the tales remain fully intact. As for the art, it is amazing. It brings Lovecraft’s detailed and bizarre creations to life without losing any of the horror or otherworldliness of the subjects. There have been many comic adaptations of HPL’s stories over the years, but few, if any, have been this good.
Lastly let me tell you about the physical qualities of this book. All this goodness comes bundled in a big, beautiful, and hefty hardcover tome complete with sewn-in ribbon bookmark. The whole thing looks and feels like quality and it’s nice to see publisher Self Made Hero give Lovecraft and his stories the respect they deserve. The only flaw I can point out about this book is the lack of a table of contents. This makes jumping to a particular story a bit needlessly troublesome, and with 512 pages to choose from, a chore. But if that’s the only complaint I have with the book, that speaks volumes about what I think about this volume.
Lovecraft is a great book and a must-have for any fan of Lovecraft and his vivid imagination. I simply cannot recommend it any higher. Get it. Now.