I've been reading Lovecraft since I was a teenager, and so it was probably inevitable that I became a regular listener of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast hosted by Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey.
When Fifer and Lackey discussed At the Mountains of Madness, they were joined by I. N. J. Culbard for a couple of episodes. I learned that Culbard had adapted and illustrated the story as a graphic novel. I was intrigued, even though at the time I wasn't a reader of graphic novels. Years ago I read Art Spiegelman's Maus, and, really, that was it. I didn't know much else about the medium. But I figured that it wouldn't hurt to try another one, and so I ordered a copy of Culbard's version of At the Mountains of Madness.
Well, that was my downfall. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which led me to read more of Culbard's work. Here's what I've bought over the past few years.
The Lovecraft books in my two photos were published by a British press called SelfMadeHero. Culbard not only adapted and illustrated At the Mountains of Madness, he also did double duty on HPL's "The Shadow Out of Time" and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. He illustrated "The Dunwich Horror" in The Lovecraft Anthology, volume one, as well as Deadbeats, a Jazz Age Lovecraftian story dreamed up by Fifer and Lackey.
The one non-Lovecraftian book in my photos, The New Deadwardians, is from Vertigo, a DC imprint. It's an alternate history of an Edwardian England populated with large numbers of vampires and zombies. Mr. Culbard illustrated a story by Dan Abnett, whose work was new to me. The murdered corpse of an aristocratic vampire is found on the banks of the Thames. Chief Inspector George Suttle of Scotland Yard, himself a vampire, is sent to investigate, and the story goes from there. Along the way the reader learns many things, but the greatest mystery is the origin of the zombie plague. How this is handled is very clever. My only criticism of the book is that it could have easily been longer, for the setup is so rich that the story could have been spun out at greater length, but as it is the book is a great deal of fun. I recommend it as well.
Culbard also illustrated adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's four Sherlock Holmes novels. I've read three of them, and they too were very entertaining. I have yet to read The Valley of Fear, but I'll get around to it eventually. My local library doesn't have it, so I'll have to get hold of it some other way, maybe through interlibrary loan.
So, you see, Culbard has piqued my interest in graphic novels. I tried to read a few of the DC New 52 books, but I have to admit that they didn't much interest me. I've nothing against superhero stories, but to my eye the artwork is overstuffed, whereas Culbard's visuals don't overwhelm the story and distract my attention from the tale being told. Call me an admirer, I guess.
Anyway, what inspired this post was Culbard's explanation of why he adapted H. P. Lovecraft into the medium of graphic novels. I can't say how this decision affected Culbard's life, but it certainly influenced my reading habits. I hope to read more of his work in the future.