Saturday, February 27, 2010

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom (Arcana) by Bruce Brown

When you mention the name “Lovecraft”, many things come to mind, most of them dealing with homages, pastiches, “reinventions” or even the subtle influence of “Lovecraftian” themes in a work. Regardless, it serves as a reminder that while H. P. Lovecraft may not have achieved widespread fame while he lived, his work has endured and influenced countless of writers after him. Anyone decently read in horror or dark fiction knows his name and possesses at least a passing knowledge of his legacy, one that has inspired short stories, novels, poems, role playing games, movies...even an episode of The Real Ghostbusters.


In any case, the world has become saturated with Lovecraft, so when a “new” Lovecraftian creation comes along, it's hard-pressed to stand out from all the rest. Howard Lovecraft & The Frozen Kingdom, written by Bruce Brown, does just that. Serious and tongue-in-cheek at the same time, this new graphic novel published by Arcana introduces us to a young Howard Lovecraft and his misadventures after receiving an early Christmas present from his deranged father – the legendary Necromonicon itself.

Brought to vivid life by Renzo Podesta, this four-chapter graphic novel regales perhaps the first of many adventures wrought by the dread Necromonicon. When young Howard Lovecraft accidentally opens a portal to the frozen kingdom of R'yleh, he's sucked into a world born of an “unholy marriage of fairy tales and nightmares”. He's sent on a quest to recover a lost holy book from the awful demon responsible for R'yleh's fate, accompanied by a cheeky – though perhaps untrustworthy – being named Thu Thu Hmong. Howard survives his adventure, and though his asylum-bound father pleads with him to destroy the Necromonicon, he keeps it to himself, reveling in the wonders it may hold in store.

Perhaps The Frozen Kingdom's greatest strength is its willingness to wink at readers regarding Lovecraft's classic aura of doom and hopelessness. While Lovecraft die-hards may be put-off by its light tone, it shows us a NEW vision of Howard Lovecraft: precocious, whimsical, witty – maybe even a bit snotty – and hopeful, relatively untainted by the inevitable burden of “awful, unknowable things”.

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1 comment:

Anton Cancre said...

my my my. The Real Ghostbusters. We going to have a Tranzor Z drop next?

Some of my favorite post-HPL Lovecraftish work has been the wittier stuff.