A graphic novel to introduce younger readers to the work of HP Lovecraft? That sounds about as credible as using Shaun the Sheep to enact the works of the Marquis De Sade. But that's precisely what Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom sets out to do. So does this new publication, through Arcana Studios, succeed?
The story by Bruce Brown and Dwight L. MacPherson follows the continuing exploits of a prepubescent Lovecraft as he is sucked into a battle of wills between warring factions of the Great Old Ones. With the help of his committed (in all senses of the word) father and a very versatile policeman, Howard faces a variety of horrors in his quest to free his family and erstwhile ‘pet’ Spot.
The story is brisk and well told in three concise chapters, with plenty of wit in the dialogue and settings. The book is drawn by Thomas Boatwright and his style is not dissimilar from that of the classic Calvin and Hobbes books, albeit with added tentacles.
On that front, the book would be readily accessible to younger readers, but the sense of dread throughout the story will lead to a few sleepless nights for children and adults alike. Prior knowledge of Lovecraft will help readers to dig deeper into the subtexts of this book, but it’s very accessible without having read Howard’s previous exploits in The Frozen World.
This volume, the second in a sequence, ends on a real cliffhanger, and it is to be hoped that a third?installment will follow soon. Maybe Aardman will option the rights?