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Lovecraft is a hard act to follow, and an even harder one to adapt. “Oh you mean HP Lovecraft, the guy who came up with Cthulhu and all those cute little plush toys.” Yeah, the guy who launched a thousand little cottage industries pumping out VOTE FOR CTHULHU: THE STARS ARE RIGHT bumper stickers and Mythos Hunting Guides and all that stuff. Yeah, him. I do wonder if he’d be tickled or appalled at his legacy and all the eldritch dust-catchers and t-shirts and radio plays.
Well, he’d probably like the radio plays. He’d probably have even approved of the silent film adaptation of THE CALL OF CTHULHU, arguably his single most famous piece of fiction, certainly the one that’s lodged most deeply in the collective consciousness, for good or for ill. The film adaptation ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478988/ for the IMDB page, and it’s streaming on Netflix) gets a solid recommendation from me, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m pretty hard to please as this stuff goes. Not because I think Lovecraft’s every word is sacred and perfect. I don’t. My relationship with HPL’s work is problematic, mostly in terms of the execution. I like characters. I like it when characters drive the plot. HPL couldn’t be bothered with that by and large, except when it was an incessant curiosity on the part of the players that made the eldritch secrets of the plot unfurl to their almost unerringly messy conclusions.
So I find HPL’s conceptual work rightly celebrated even if I find his prose nigh-unimpenetrable at times. Which is why I’m often attracted to adaptations of his work, where creators have a desire to stick to the template that HPL laid out, and often there’s some sense of respect for the source material, but it’s filtered through a different sense of aesthetics. HPL-inspired stuff that stars HPL himself? Not so much. Though there was that beautifully-illustrated LOVECRAFT OGN with art by Enrique Breccia that was so wonderful that I simply didn’t care about the story. Though I suppose there’s an interesting vein to mine when talking about Lovecraft as fictional construct rather than historical figure, but that’s for someone else to do.
As a part of Robot 666 week, we’re pleased to present Parasomnia by artist Greg Hinkle, who teamed up with several writers to tell the story of a young woman’s nightmares, which are the key to unlocking a deeper secret. Here’s what Greg had to say about this first story, an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft tale:
I’ve always wanted to draw a Lovecraft story, but it’s always been a little intimidating. His stories always deal with some grandiose cosmic unknown. Usually some indescribable evil. (They discussed some of the same stuff during the West Hollywood Book Fair’s HP Lovecraft panel, earlier this month.) I knew that Lovecraft had done some short stories, and I figured I’d better start small. “The Terrible Old Man” is less than 1,200 words, and less than three pages in the book I have. It’s completely without dialogue, too, which appealed to me. Lovecraft’s approach is similar to his longer works, and he let’s almost all of the action take place off-page, leaving the reader to insert his own scary stuff. It confronts the threat from outsiders, in this case, quite literally, but gives the story a shot of the supernatural.
Parasomnias are a class of sleep disorders which include sleep walking, sleep talking, and night terrors. They’re characterized by a partial arousal, or the body becoming caught in between a state of waking and deep sleep. So I wanted a story that could set the tone for a confused state of arousal. And who better to set the stage for a confusing, dreamy state, than the grand-daddy of mind-bending horror?
Check out part one after the jump, then check back tomorrow for part two. You can also get Parasomnia from Greg Hinkle’s Etsy shop.
Good Lord, I sort of wish I hadn’t seen Vacon Sartirani’s “Mickey Mouse Against the Worms,” a monstrous mash-up of Mickey, Minnie, and gelatinous creatures out of Jim Woodring/H.P. Lovecraft/Stephen King’s “The Mist.” According to Sartirani, the piece is something of a racial allegory, which if my rudimentary Italian is any indication only makes it more troubling. You can check out the English translation at the link, provided you don’t much value your sanity and soul. And you can see more of Sartirani’s work at his website.
Here’s something to look forward to if you’ve ever heard the call of Cthlhu: A Love Craft, an upcoming exhibition of art inspired by the work of hugely influential horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Hosted at Observatory in Brooklyn beginning with a Friday, June 11th opening reception at 7pm, the show features such masters of the macabre as Monster Brains impresario Aeron Alfrey and comics artists Greg Ruth and Johnny Ryan, whose contribution you can see after the jump. Go get your fhtagn on!