Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Few Recent Graphics

There have been several fine graphic versions of works by H.P. Lovecraft over the past few years, often featuring the illustration and lettering of I.N.J. Culbard, among other artists.  SelfMadeHero has published At the Mountains of Madness (2010), The Lovecraft Anthology Volume 1 (2011), The Lovecraft Anthology Volume 2 (2012), The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (2012), and The Shadow Out of Time (2013).  Due out this fall, and eagerly awaited by this writer, is a visual rendition of Lovecraft’s The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath by Culbard.  When I looked for this one at our local purveyor, I was given the release date of November 5th—not this month as I had believed.

In the meantime, I recently enjoyed a compilation of The New Deadwardians put out last year by DC Comics.  (The original series appeared as monthly installments in 2012.)  The story is written by Dan Abnett, with artwork and lettering done by I.N.J. Culbard.  The New Deadwardians is a murder mystery set in an alternative London circa mid to late 19th Century.  After a devastating epidemic of zombies prompts a grisly war for survival, the English upper class resorts to vampirism to protect themselves from the depredations of the undead.  Being dead themselves, they are no longer attractive to zombies, and also have superior strength and agility.  Only the beleaguered working class retains its humanity—and its ability to feel emotion and hope for a better future.

The narrator is the last Scotland Yard detective who investigates London homicides—a role that is increasingly unnecessary where many are already dead. He gets an unusual case: an aristocrat is found murdered and strangely mutilated on the banks of the Thames.  Because he has “taken the cure”, the victim theoretically can only be killed by impalement, decapitation or incineration, none of which seem to have occurred.  So what is going on here? 

This is not a typical Zombie apocalypse; The New Deadwardians features class struggle and interesting speculations about the nature of war, psychology, inheritance, and love in a world where fewer and fewer people can die.  It is a darkly inventive fantasy, and well worth reading if you have not already done so.

Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard have teamed up again to begin a new six part series just out this month.  The first issue of Wild’s End, (“Chapter One—The Village Fete”) introduces the main characters, who are anthropomorphized animals in a small rural English village.  As in The New Deadwardians, the timeframe is mid nineteenth century.  Steam powered engines have just begun to appear, and the populace is growing anxious about the pace of technological change.  An ominous “Falling Star” appears just as the people of Lower Crowchurch are preparing their annual agricultural fair.  The issue concludes with an amusing page from the local newspaper, (“The Peakminster Examiner”), which contains period advertisements as well as news articles that provide back story to events and characters in the first installment. This one looks like a lot of fun.

Wild’s End is published by Boom Studios, who also produced a wonderful illustrated version of H.P. Lovecraft’s unsettling prose poem, Nyarlathotep, back in 2008.

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