Few people can deny the impact that H.P. Lovecraft’s work has had on modern horror. The influence can be felt in many movies, books, and television.
Even the monsters and creatures that you see depicted in many popular franchises have been influenced by his work (Geiger’s Alien, for example).
Although, I have to admit that many of the movies I have seen that were based on his work were less than stellar. It’s a pity, since many of the stories are quite intriguing.
Hey, we’re dealing with alien creatures that have been around longer than the dinosaurs here!
The thing about Lovecraft’s work is the fact that humanity is very insignificant… we like to think we’re the center of the universe, that god loves us and created us in his image.
Lovecraft shatters that illusion with his version of harsh fiction. Of course its fiction, but it does tell humanity as a whole to essentially ‘watch it; you’re about as important to the old gods as that piece of lint on your shirt’.
Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? But still, its fiction, and it is to be taken as such.
So, here we have Mark Ellis’ Miskatonic Project – The Whisperer in Darkness. It’s a compilation of the original comics published by Millennium Publications back in the early 90’s – based upon H.P. Lovecraft’s work.
As per usual, I will not write about any spoilers, other than those that you could get from reading the back cover of the book itself.
The Miskatonic Project is the mortal enemy of the old ones. They’re determined to prevent Cthulhu and his spawn from retaking the Earth for themselves and delegating humanity to nothing more than cattle.
In the pages of the Graphic novel the heroes encounter the humans that have sided with the old ones, monsters that defy the imagination, and horror deep enough to freeze the soul.
Ok, truth be told, by today’s standards, the horror and monsters that one reads about in the graphic novel are pretty tame. Hey, how can this stuff compare to the shock of things like Torture porn?
Still, when you consider the era that this material was originally written, it was very horrific. Stuff like this would have given most of the people who read it back in the 30’s and 40’s nightmares.
So, when you’re reading it, try to put aside what you consider horror today and try to take the mindset of a person living back in those simpler times. You just might appreciate the material more if you do.
Any fans of Mark’s Outlanders work will see similarities to the characters he created there… the most obvious being Augustus Grant. Just remember, this predates Outlanders by several years.
Now, was the story good? Yes. It had all the elements of a great story… stalwart heroes fighting creatures that are out to change the face of the world. Plenty of action, villains worthy of the heroes (hey, if you have a weak villain, you can’t have a strong hero, can you?)
And, of course, monsters. The cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.
For a person like me, who knows about Lovecraft, and clearly understands the impact his work has had on modern horror, but has never actually read one of his novels or stories… I have to admit that Mark’s work on the graphic novel has finally opened the doors for me. I want to pick up some of Lovecraft’s work and experience it for myself now.
That alone should speak volumes.
Another thing that I have to point out about the graphic novel was the inclusion of bonus material.
Most of the graphic novels I’ve bought over the past couple of years have had maybe a guest introduction, and a gallery of covers for the original comics. Pretty weak if you ask me.
Not the case with this graphic novel. Not only do you get the original comics (in black and white instead of full color, which makes it all that much better), but a forward by Donald Burleson; a chronology of the Cthulhu mythology, interviews with Mark Ellis and Don Heck, and a bio of all those involved in the creation of the graphic novel.
Seems like a lot, right? But there’s more!
There are several pages from a previously unpublished adaptation of the hounds of Tindalos – penciled by Don Heck, several pages of character sketches and even previews of upcoming material.
Finally, a shout out to all those who helped bring the graphic novel to life – Darryl Banks, Terry Collins, Deirdre Delay, Don Heck, Daryl Hutchinson and Melissa Martin-Ellis.
This is a must have for fans of any of the above, Outlanders, and of course H.P. Lovecraft. It’s worth owning just for the bonus material alone.
5 out of 5