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Friday, August 7, 2009

H. P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror, Richard Corben (Writer & Artist),Jeff Eckleberry (Letters). Marvel Publishing (2008)

This is a surprisingly successful adaptation of some of H. P .Lovecraft's short stories and poems. There is a fundamental difference in approach between H.P.Lovecraft and contemporary horror comics. H. P. Lovecraft creates an atmosphere by omission, he describes the reactions of his characters to events that they are unwilling or unable to describe. The events they witness, the creatures they encounter are so dreadful that they cannot find any words to adequately describe them, they can only express their own revulsion. This reaction is described with such care that the reader find themselves sharing it and their imagination fills in the details of the cause of the reaction. Contemporary horror is based on explicit portrayal of the the monsters, human or otherwise that threaten the cast, the horror lies in the detail of their actions, minutely described and presented. H. P. Lovecraft's leisurely approach does not survive transformation into contemporary preferences.
Richard Corben manages the task of being significantly more explicit than the source material with a strong fidelity to the intent and mood of H. P. Lovecraft's stories and poems. The structure of the book with the comic version followed by the full text of the story or poem that inspired it demonstrates Richard Corben's skill as a writer as well as showcasing his staggering artistic talent. The art is not black and white, the amazing multitude of shades of grey used add depth and subtlety to the stories that capture the atmosphere of the stories and poems. The cast and the settings they inhabit are drawn with tremendous solidity so that the appalling events they are entangled in have weight and credibility. The monsters come out of the shadows, not very far however and the restraint serves them well, the centerpiece remains the fear and confusion of the human cast. Superb.

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