COMICS REVIEW: The Lovecraft Anthology, Vol 2

Self-Made Hero have been making a quite dent in my bookcase over the last year or so, especially with their Lovecraft adaptations. First off, we had the excellent “At the Mountains of Madness”, which for some reason it took me ages to buy, and then I snapped up “The Lovecraft Anthology, Volume 1” at ThoughtBubble last year, and to my delight hear that next up was another Anthology. Huzzah! I thought, and started drumming my fingers on my desk for it pretty much there and then. But it is here, and I have it.

The first volume managed to hit some of the “bigger” Lovecraft stories such as The Call of Cthulhu and The Colour out of Space, but as a long-time Lovecraft fan there is certainly no shortage of great stories to adapt. For completeness sake, Volume 2 includes the following: Pickmans Model, The Picture in the House, The Nameless City, He, From Beyond, The Statement of Randolph Carter, The Hound and The Temple, the latter being the first Lovecraft story I ever read, and one that has always stuck with me, so it’s extra nice to see it here.

The trick with adapting Lovecraft is of course that so much of the joy of the mans work is the prose, which can be amazingly atmospheric, if occasionally a little cumbersome. So adapting it inevitably means paring it back, and relying on the artwork to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Equally, you suddenly have to draw all this nameless, indescribably horror, which runs it’s own risks. I confess I did look at the eponymous “Hound” and think “thats not how I pictured it”, although I hasten to add it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the adaptation! More often that not, wherever the story allows, Lovecrafts horrors remain off-camera, maintaining the effect that my imagination is probably more horrible than anything someone could draw.

Whilst we are on the artwork, its varied and interesting, and great pairings of art to story, although a quick scan down the list of creators involved means that shouldn’t be a surprise. The same goes for the writers; there is a huge amount of love for the source material on show, and an understanding of what makes the stories work, so even as they are pared back, they are pared back to their core elements, and retain their power.

Its often said of Lovecraft that he can be inaccessible to new readers, and both this and Self Made Heros other Lovecraft titles are fantastic gateways to his work and well worth a read for aficionados and newcomers alike.

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