The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1 by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jeff VanderMeer gave me some great advice as we were editing the Leviathan 3 anthology: Don't ever put your own fiction in an anthology you're editing. That's proven to be good advice, and, after having edited several anthologies and written my share of short fiction, I've learned that editors are often their own worst critics. And by this, I don't mean that editors are too hard on themselves. In fact, I mean quite the opposite. It is extremely rare that an editor doesn't at least hamper, if not ruin, their own anthology by including their own work therein. The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1 is no exception.
Let's do some math. There are seven adaptions of Lovecraft's work in this anthology, including "The Call of Cthulhu," The Haunter of the Dark," "The Dunwich Horror," The Colour Out of Space," "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," "The Rats in the Walls," and "Dagon". Of these, Dan Lockwood, the editor, adapted three. Four of the adaptions are uncompelling. Can you guess who adapted three of the four that I found least appealing? Bingo!
Now, just because four out of seven adaptions were less than stellar doesn't condemn this anthology. Adapting from one media (the short fiction form) to another (graphic novel form) is hard work and easy to bungle. So we have to make some allowances for difficulty in translation. There was bound to be some bad work here.
And the art ranges from good (in the case of Alice Duke's rendition of "Dagon") to very clever (in the case of D'Israeli's "Call of Cthulhu") to comic book genius (in the case of I.N.J. Culbard's "The Dunwich Horror"). There really is no bad artwork in this volume. There is a wide range of styles represented, each with its own strengths.
Unfortunately, the art is saddled with the adaption and, though visually appealing, it is difficult for the dark beauty of the art to overcome the poor adaptions.
Three of the adaptions are excellent: Rob Davis' treatment of "The Dunwich Horror," David Hine's take on "The Colour Out of Space," and Leah Moore and John Reppion's collaboration on "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" are all faithful enough to the original texts, without being unoriginal, that even the most hard-core Lovecraft fan should find a great deal of enjoyment in them. If you're an old hat at Lovecraftian terror, you're not likely to enjoy the others.
If you are new to Lovecraft's work, I wouldn't recommend this anthology outside of the three stories I've mentioned above. The others cut far too much out of the original stories and don't allow the reader to build up to the sort of cosmic dread for which Lovecraft is known. "Dagon," a story which I love, was particularly dull, I thought.
And I'd be ungrateful if I didn't acknowledge that my daughter bought this for me as a Christmas gift. The girl knows her old man!
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