When I was looking for comic book anthologies recently, I found the Robert E. Howard book, the Fairy Tale book and a third, darker tome: The Lovercraft Anthology: Volume 1. Edited by Dan Lockwood, this volume transforms seven of H.P. Lovecraft's short stories into strikingly creepy and beautiful comics that touch the surface of what Lovecraft built.

You can't be a speculative fiction fan without coming into contact with something inspired by Lovecraft. From the Dungeon Dimensions of Pratchett's Discworld series, to Ridley Scott's Aliens, to Mike Mignola's Hellboy, pop culture is full of nods to Lovecraft's Old Ones, so it doesn't surprise me at all that someone would choose to mine this material to build a comic series/anthology. Published by Self Made Hero, The Lovecraft Anthology certainly struck a chord with me.

The ToC for the anthology:

  • The Call of Cthulhu adapted by Ian Edgington, artist D'Israeli
  • The Haunter of the Dark adapted by Dan Lockwood, artist Shane Ivan Oakley
  • The Dunwich Horror adapted by Rob Davis, artist INJ Culbard
  • The Colour Out of Space adapted by David Hine, artist Mark Stafford
  • The Shadow Over Innsmouth adapted by Leah Moore & John Reppion, artist Leigh Gallagher
  • The Rats in the Walls adapted by Dan Lockwood, artist David Hartman
  • Dagon adapted by Dan Lockwood, artist Alice Duke 

I don't think you could do such an anthology without starting with The Call of Cthulhu as Lockwood did here. The first story is going to set the tone for everything that follows, and this one doesn't disappoint. The art is well done and moves us through the narrative in a subtle shift of color that ends very dark, just as the story itself. When his great uncle dies, a man finds himself drawn into a tale that spans history. He pours over notes and bits of information, all gathered by his late great uncle, and all pointing to chain of events and tales, all seemingly unconnected, yet when viewed as a whole, reveal a very dark secret. It’s one of my favorites, though not my absolute favorite.

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“The Haunter of the Dark” is done is sepia tones and has a very noir style. I like the way Oakley splashed bits of color—blues and reds—here and there to drive home dramatic points within the story. Used so sparingly, they stand oLovecraft Spreadut starkly against the page, drawing your eye and lending to the tension.

My least favorites are “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Colour Out Of Space,” “The Rats In The Walls” and “Dagon.” The art varies from story to story, and does so wildly, with “The Dunwich Horror” looking/feeling simple, though it isn't, and “The Colour Out of Space” taking on a grotesquely complicated style that turned me off immediately. “The Rats in the Walls” is well done, artwise, but “Dagon” is probably the best art in the book. It has that watercolor style that I enjoy.

“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” is my favorite overall. Again, we see a brilliant use of color to set tone throughout the piece. We begin with bright oranges and yellows, move through muted blues and purples, and end with an eerie green. The story revolves around a man who is looking into his family’s past by taking a genealogical tour of the country. Taking the bus through the little town of Innsmouth will save him some money versus the train ride to Arkham from Newburyport. Despite being cautioned not to spend the night in Innsmouth, the man chooses the bus ride. Once there, he decides to look into the town's history, chatting with some of the locals. The tale includes human sacrifice and rituals all surrounding a mysterious island out in the bay. When the time comes for him to catch his bus out of town, he learns from the driver that there's an issue, the bus has broken down, and he'll be forced to spend the night after all. The last person who spent the night in Innsmouth went insane. With this on his mind, the man makes his arrangements, night falls, and the little town of Innsmouth shows him what it's really made of.... 

The Lovecraft Anthology is a wonderful adaptation and tribute to Lovecraft, and you can tell Lockwood is a fan of these stories. The edition includes a foreward by Lockwood, biographies on all the authors and artists, and Lovecraft himself. It's a great way to dip your toes into the mythology and lore Lovecraft built. One word of caution, though; if you do pick this up, don't read it cover to cover before going to bed....

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.