Nightmares Come to Life in Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu
Surreal and anxiety-filled are words that I find perfectly acceptable to describe H.P. Lovecraft’s work. He wrote stories that could keep readers up at night. Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu is no different. It collects three of Esteban Maroto’s adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s most famous stories. Those stories include “The Nameless City,” “The Festival,” and his most famous short story, “The Call of Cthulhu.” According to IDW’s website, these adaptations were first published over thirty years ago and are finally getting the treatment they deserve.
The first five pages of the collection are filled with biographical content on H.P. Lovecraft and an introduction to his Cthulhu Mythos. Additionally, these pages contain a preface and a prologue to Maroto’s work. These sections explain Maroto’s artistic process, along with an explanation of the collection’s complicated history.
Each story within the collection is self-contained, and yet – just like Lovecraft’s own work – they interconnect. The connections come about thanks to Lovecraft’s great plot device, the Necronomicon, and their themes, as opposed to recurring characters and events.
In the first story, “The Nameless City,” readers are introduced to the Necronomicon, though not by name, more by reputation. The story follows a nameless narrator as he wanders out into the desert in search of a city that has haunted his dreams. It is there that he witnesses unspeakable horrors.
Following the adaptation of “The Nameless City” is “The Festival”. This particular story takes place during Christmas in New England. The main character, who is also nameless, travels on his father’s behalf to the town of Kingsport. It is there that he witnesses a pagan tradition where the unspeakable happens. After going back to the source, I discovered that Maroto had actually added a few sequences that do not appear in the original text. He expertly mimics Lovecraft’s voice in those sequences. I almost believed they were in the original story.
The third and final story is Lovecraft’s most famous tale, “The Call of Cthulhu.” Maroto’s adaptation seeps with dread from beginning to end as Francis Wayland Thurston recounts his investigation of his grand-uncle’s mysterious death. Thurston’s investigation leads him to discover strange accounts from others connected to his grand-uncle. These accounts contain their nightmares of an antediluvian city, horrifying encounters with the Cthulhu Cult, and Cthulhu itself. It is during his investigation that Thurston discovers he has become part of a cosmic conspiracy.
Esteban Maroto’s chilling artwork enhances the written portions of each story. Maroto depicts the creatures from Lovecraft’s stories as nearly-incomprehensible shapes of countless eyes and flailing tendrils. The black and white color scheme by Santi Casas gives each of the stories a surreal look and adds to the horror. The highly detailed and realistic images exhibit Maroto’s artistic talents. Most notably, Cthulhu looks rather different from Lovecraft’s descriptions, but I liked Maroto’s bizarre interpretation of the creature.
Lovecraft: The Myth of Cthulhu is a chilling collection of some of H.P. Lovecraft’s greatest works. Each illustration lends depth and gravity to the many excerpts of Lovecraft’s work in a fashion I have yet to see in other adaptations. Maroto’s rendition of Lovecraft’s style and his interesting additions to “The Festival” were impressive. Though it was great to see the many excerpts of Lovecraft’s work included in this collection, modifying some of the narration into dialogue would have been fascinating to read. I think it would have added even more depth to “The Festival” and “The Call of Cthulhu” as well. However, the exclusion of dialogue does not hurt any of Maroto’s adaptations. In fact, this is perfect as an introduction to Lovecraft. Additionally, it is a great artistic rendering of his work that both horror and Lovecraft fans alike can enjoy.
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