Review – Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1-3
Writer: Richard Corben
Artist: Richard Corben
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Release Date: November 5 2008
Master illustrator and comic book artist Richard Corben’s Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft is a respectful take on Howard Philips Lovecraft’s unsettling poems and short stories. Corben, who passed away just last December, lends his signature style to Lovecraft’s oeurve while retaining the original tone of ethereal weirdness.
Corben maintains the simple language Lovecraft favored, and things are only changed if the new format necessitates it. For example, in ‘Dagon’, the fish-men materialize and conduct a ritual whereas they were originally described through the pictograms seen on the ‘Cyclopean monolith’. ‘The Canal’ features two black homosexual men, in effect updating Lovecraft, who is infamous for his racist sentiments, for the 21stcentury. The original poems and stories are tacked at the end of each adaptation, which is incredibly useful for realising the restraint in the changes masterfully applied by Corben.
It is an accepted axiom that approaching anything Lovecraftian with conventional expectations of story and plot might lead you down the very same kind of madness you’re reading about. Just kidding, however you will be terribly disappointed though. To read HoH:L is to wander down dark streets which inevitably lead to turns into even darker corners. Eventually, something is revealed, but not enough to give you a full picture. It’s almost as if we mere human beings just can’t fathom the full breadth of the what we’re supposed to be paying witness to… and then the story ends. Lack of resolution on this scale repeated at the frequency that only a collection of Lovecraft tales could rouse leads to hefty feelings of disorientation and unease. Suffice it to say that Corben does a wonderful job converting the short stories and poems into the graphic novel format.
It is no easy feat illustrating stories and poems that seldom extend beyond a single page, but Corben had some prior experience, having done Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe in 2006. Black and white with gray tones is the name of the game here, with Corben managing to expand the oft-sparse and abstract ideas presented by Lovecraft in his poems into something that threatens to jump off the page and into the real world of the reader. Given the notoriously difficult relations that Lovecraft and cosmic horror in general has to the big screen, Corben’s mono style lends a noir-ish cinematic feel to the Lovecraft yarns that is at once eerie and dreamlike, with many frames recall the nocturnal and creepy works of Junji Ito.
Overall, Richard Corben honors the Lovecraft style whilst allowing his own distinct voice to be felt, both in the writing and the illustrations, which is a triumph. Additionally, the extension of the source text into something at once visually unique and confounding make this collection of three short stories and six poems stand out amidst the plethora of Lovecraft adaptations.
If you enjoyed our Review of Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1-3 then leave a comment below or leave your own rating if you’ve already read it.
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