Welcome to our weekly feature “So You Want To Read Comics. It’s time to recommend some comics for new readers based on other things they’re interested in. This week, with the recent release of HBO’s adaptation of Lovecraft County, it seemed like a good time to take a look at comics for fans of H.P. Lovecraft.
Before we get into this, just know that none of this is in any way an endorsement or show of support for H.P. Lovecraft’s troubling and downright despicable racist beliefs.
It’s safe to say that H.P. Lovecraft’s work wasn’t exactly as well known when he was alive as it is now, considering he died in poverty at age 46. Yet, as time rolled on and as more people became inspired by works like Call of Cthulhu and At The Mountains of Madness, it became clear that his work had become some of the most influential in the horror genre and literature as a whole. With a focus more on the horrors that come from the fragility of the human mind in the face of the unexplainable rather than the outside forces being the horror themselves, Lovecraft created a unique perspective on what really scares us. It’s that perspective that has led to his work being adapted or inspiring movies, radio dramas, television shows, and the highest form of human creation, internet memes.
So what comics best capture Lovecraft’s specific brand of horror while still being accessible to new readers? Let’s find out.
Under Black Stars
Writer: Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Jenna Cha
Publisher: Vault Comics
Set in 1887 in the Canadian frontier, Under Black Stars is the story of Eualie Dubois, a fur trader who comes across a parcel that she must deliver far away. Her journey takes her deep into the forests of an untamed wilderness. She’s soon confronted with horrors both internal and external that are all tied to the package she’s now in charge of. What makes Under Black Stars so interesting is that while Lovecraft typically set his stories in the time he lived in and most of the properties inspired by him are set in modern times or at least after the 1920s, Under Black Stars goes backwards. Setting this tale back in the late 1800s gives this book the unique ability to include the uneasiness of rapidly approaching modernization into a narrative that is steeped in themes of escape and faltering in the face of the unknown. Most of us probably don’t know the perils of being in contact with an eldritch god, but we all know the feeling that time is leaving us behind.
Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham
Writers: Mike Mignola & Richard Price
Artists: Dennis Janke & Troy Nixey
Publisher: DC Comics
One of the best things about comics is that you can take characters like Batman and mash them into unexpected places, like the Cthulhu mythos and it doesn’t feel out of place. In this story we see Batman head to the arctic to rescue an expedition, but when he gets there he finds that the survivors have gone mad and he must face what has caused that insanity. Now, this is basically a retelling of At The Mountains of Madness, except with characters like Batman, Robin, and The Penguin, but seeing a guy with a cape and horns face an elder god is half the fun. At this point, a lot of what Lovecraft is known for is having created a set of tools of a sort that creators can use as they please which leads to stories like this that can shift away from the deeper horror aspects and just be an adventure that evokes Lovecraft rather than mimic him completely.
So, did these recommendations awaken you, or do you remain dreaming in R’yleh? Do you have suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comment section below.