Delving into the darkness with SelfMadeHero Horror Graphic Novels

 It’s no secret we’re big fans of horror graphic novels and comics at GYGO. Most recently we were impressed with SelfMadeHero’s publication ‘Ghost Stories of an Antiquary’ a fantastic  reimagining of some of M R James most classic Ghost Stories. So upon hearing of the publishing outfit’s release of several of Lovecraft and Robert W Chambers’ most beloved books we couldn’t wait to find out more.

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The King in Yellow – Robert W Chambers

Chambers’ legendary anthology of tales telling of a maddening book has influenced a huge range of other literature, not to mention crept into popular culture recently with it’s multiple references in True Detective Series 1. I.N.J Culbard has done a fantastic job taking, what has to be, such a surreal and abstract story and placing it in a readable format within a graphic novel. The stark simplistic, characterised artwork makes great use of the shadows within each panel, with a notable emphasis on people’s eyes. Something which makes for an unsettling experience which really adds to the feel of the stories.  When you eventually reach the King himself you won’t be disappointed by Culbard’s ragged fiend. king-website1 king-website4

Admittedly the four stories adapted for SMH are only briefly delved into, understandably given the content. At 142 pages there’s arguably not a great deal of time to emotionally attach with the characters of each tale, but we still thought it an effective medium to retell these stories. Producing what is very much a refreshing take on some of literature’s darkest tales.

 

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At the Mountains of Madness – HP Lovecraft

Lovecraft’s beloved tale of a mountain expedition turning to terror has no doubt inspired countless media, and crept close to being adapted by Hollywood. So it’s fantastic to see the classic story of a team of scientists form Arkham delving deep into the secrets of the arctic and in the process inadvertently unleashing an evil potentially older than the earth retold in such a visual manner. Culbard’s adaptation of this classic tale, conjours up thoughts of comic art from publications including Hellboy and Tintin. Again the stark simplicity of his toning and characterisation really helps retell what is evidently a very stark and bleak story of being lost and alone in the most remote of locations and against the most terrifying of terrors.

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Admittedly as with the King in Yellow, sections have been glossed over somewhat, but from such wordy original material it’s absolutely understandable and fit’s the narrative perfectly.

For any fan of the Lovecraft’s cosmic horror this is undoubtedly a must have.

 

 

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Shadow Out of Time :  HP Lovecraft

Lovecraft’s last major work ‘ Shadow out of Time displays the great man’s passion in cosmic horror. As the last of his stories it’s no secret that the original Shadow out of Time was an intense read, with some extremely unwieldy prose. Thankfully Culbard has done a great job polishing these into shape for a graphic novel retelling.

The story itself follows Arkham professor Nathaniel Peaslee who, after suffering a crippling seizure awakes having lost five years of his life. His following adventure leads him down a dark path of lost memories and a potential malevolent alien race who are needless to say, out for human blood.

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Culbard’s adaption of this epic tale is truly impressive, literally covering time and space as the professor attempts to regain his lost memories.  The dark tone of Culbard’s other adaptations are more than evident. Though using a more sepia tone to his work this time round, giving it a superb vintage feel of a forgotten past. As any fan knows, this story is very much based around the fractured memories of a man clearly lost, and the emotive nature works superbly with Culbard’s panelling. Leaving the reader suspicious of the reality of what they’re reading. It has to be said the climax is particularly impressive, with some gorgeous panelling.

Though as an initial tale, not as cherished as Mountains, Shadow out of Time is a most worthy read for any fan of both Lovecraft and horror graphic novels. This retelling is absolutely stunning.

 

 

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Case of Dexter Ward : HP Lovecraft

Following the tale of Charles Ward, who leaves his medical training to instead take of the mantle of his one of his family’s ancestors – the alleged wizard Joseph Curwen, Against Mountains and Shadow, Dexter is often overlooked in the top Lovecraft novels, which is constantly surprising given  the flurry of plot twists which will no doubt keep you on the edge of your seat.

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Dexter Ward is a complete shift in tone and pace for Culbard’s adaptation. The artwork compliments Lovecraft’s original story elements of empty houses, and lost families with a cold tone of desolation. But still keeping the fantastical magical element with some beautiful spread work by Culbard. Arguably the artwork is never taken as dark or as arcane as Lovecraft’s original tale but still it does a great work retelling such an often prose heavy tale within the restrictions of a graphic novel format.

If you’ve enjoyed Mountains and Shadows then undoubtedly you’ll love Case of Dexter Ward.

 

We highly recommend checking out SelfMadeHero’s full range, offering an emotive and absorbing method of revisiting some truly classic horror at http://www.selfmadehero.com/