Last time, I took a look at The Lovecraft Anthology, edited by Dan Lockwood. This time around, I'm looking at another graphic novel based on a Lovecraft book: At The Mountains of Madness, adapted and illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard (Deadbeats, The New Deadwardians).
Published by Sterling, this volume adapts Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness in a classic style reminiscent of Hergé's Tintin. In the story, Professor Dyer leads an expedition to Antarctica in September of 1930. With a biologist, engineer, physicist and meteorologist, and a geologist on board, their mission is to take core soil and rock samples from areas of unexplored Antarctica, run tests and report their findings back home. By November, they enter McMurdo Sound, and the adventure begins.
First, they discover some mysterious slate fragments with odd symbols etched into the surface. At between 500 million and 1 billion years old, Professor Dyer is disturbed by what these fragments could represent: the existence of any life at all above unicellular or trilobite stage, which he finds illogical and impossible. When his fellow scientists demand to search for further examples and evidence, he refuses to allow it. They do it anyway, returning with even more of the strange slate fragments. Faced with such overwhelming evidence, Dyer has to split his team and allow more than half to go off in search of the source of these strange symbols. What they find leads them deeper into Antarctica, and eventually, Dyer himself has to venture into the mountains of madness in search of his team.
As I mentioned above, the artwork for this piece is very classic and reminds me of Hergé's Tintin books; simple, yet elegant. Clean lines and excellent color choices set the tone and mood throughout the book. The deeper into the mountains they travel, the darker the colors become, tinged with greens and blues. Culbard does a superb job capturing Lovecraft's story: Antarctica is a great backdrop for the discovery of an ancient race and civilization. Lovecraft isn't the only writer to be inspired by the isolation and blank canvas of this icy continent. Off the top of my head, I remember that John W. Campbell Jr.'s novella Who Goes There? inspired not one, but three different movie adaptations: Howard Hawks/Christian Nyby's film The Thing From Another World (1951), John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) and the 2011 prequel-film The Thing. I'm surprised no one has yet adapted At The Mountains of Madness into a decent film, although Guillermo del Toro has tried several times. Until such a film comes along, Culbard's adaptation is an excellent addition to anyone's library.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and Hugo-nominated Podcast producer/host and editor (2013) who lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012 and a 2013 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.