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We’re reaching Halloween closer by the minute but it’s still not here, so that means we still have another spooky Halloween pick to get through. This one is perhaps the most flawed so far, being a mixed bag of writing and art, but it’s still an effective work. So effective that I have no problem naming it the third pick of the month – Hans Rodionoff, Keith Giffen and Enrique Breccia’s Lovecraft, a comic that is (somewhat) about the life of H.P. Lovecraft and his experiences.
The qualifier used above is merely a safeguard, because what Lovecraft provides is nothing more than a fantasy version of Lovecraft’s life. The scenes and events depicted stem mainly in truth, rumor, and various anecdotes about the man. So, in the end, we have characters whose real life counterparts never met, who died way before (or way after they did) their actions in the comic, and even some events converted to work in future references.
An especially egregious part is in the form of a young H.P. role-playing as the Arabian “Abdul Alhazred”, which is based in truth, as he did play act scenes from The Arabian Nights – it’s just the use of the name that sticks out like a sore thumb. Outside of all of that the plot is much more solid than one might expect. It’s your basic Fright Night or My Name is Bruce scenario, where a character has to step into fictional shoes in order to fight suddenly real supernatural threats. A conceit that engages from the outset.
H.P. Lovecraft is most definitely not your typical action hero, so the tone that is set is equal parts darkly humorous and just dark. There are a plethora of moments where you’ll just get an uneasy sense of chills – it is Lovecraft after all. Breccia’s art is no slouch in this department. His artwork is a near perfect mix of grotesque and weird. One notable instance are the eldritch abominations in Lovecraft’s canon. The art gets the point across without breaking the bank.
The coloring is also similarly on point. It’s garish, it’s off-putting, and it is visually engaging. It’s used creatively as well, with the “Arkham” segments being a mishmash of various spotted backgrounds, a distinct counterpoint to the plain normal world. There’s a deranged edge to it all that the reader really can’t ever escape. When things get light, or lighter, to when the story takes a really eerie tone – the art works on all levels. The expressions really sell what could be less effective moments and make them absolutely unnerving.
Lovecraft isn’t the best at being Lovecraftian, but it does work at being a nice and entertaining read. Lovecraft fans might not appreciate the liberties it takes with the stories and with historical fact, but will hopefully be able to enjoy the sly winks and nods. As for non-fans, it’s not something that is so entrenched as to become undecipherable. It’s definitely no Providence in that regard, but still a well worn tale that should ignite any October evening with some spooks.