is a Very Loosely Based on a True Story
comic retelling of H. P. Lovecraft
's life, suggesting that the famous writer's horror stories were not simply products of his imagination. Originally conceived as a film script by Hans Rodionoff, it was turned into a comic book with help from DC Comics
veteran Keith Giffen and artist Enrique Breccia.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft has a very bizarre childhood in the city of Providence. His father, Winfield, becomes acutely psychotic when his son is three years old and is confined to an asylum, where, to the day of his death, he keeps babbling about a book that needs to be burned. Meanwhile, Howard's mother dresses him up in girls' clothing and home-schools him, contributing to keeping him very isolated from the outside world. His only means of entertainment are his grandfather's ghost stories and his father's quite comprehensive library. It is in the latter that he discovers the ancient and very strange book, Al Azif
, by Abdul Alhazred, also more popularly known as the Necronomicon
The young Lovecraft quickly discovers that the verses in the book, when read out loud, open a portal to a dark, twisted version of Massachusetts, where stands the strange city of Arkham, populated by all sorts of weird, and sometimes malevolent, creatures. He starts paying regular visits to this other dimension, but soon discovers that some of the creatures from Arkham are following him into the real world, where they haunt and torment him, demanding that he surrender the Necronomicon
to them, so they can bring the barrier between the dimensions down and take over the mundane world. Then again, it could all just be the escapist fantasies of a lonely young writer who had clinically insane parents and a pretty screwed-up childhood.
This comic contains examples of:
- Art Shift: Panels in the "real" world and those when the alien reality of the Old Ones is dominant are made in two noticeably different styles, despite Breccia doing both.
- Batman Gambit: After a fashion. All the strange prayers and incantations to summon the Old Ones found throughout Lovecraft's work? They're actually wards and seals, and the more they're printed, read, or spoken, the stronger the barrier between our world and theirs becomes. Any attempt to try and summon the beings by using those (in fact, mere interest in Lovecraft's work, ensuring continued circulation of his stories) will just make it harder for them to break through.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Lovecraft was apparently mankind's sole protector against an invasion from horrible creatures from an alternate dimension. And continues to be so, even after his death.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Maybe.
- Go Mad from the Revelation
- Humanoid Abomination: Most of the inhabitants of Arkham, with Wilbur Whateley as the most prominent example.
- I Have Many Names: The creatures of Arkham are for some reason unable to call Lovecraft by his birth name, so they always refer to him as "Randolph Carter".
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Although he never tells her, it is Lovecraft's reason for leaving Sonia.
- Talking to Themself: In the center of Arkham, Lovecraft meets another him, that gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, telling him that Arkham was just a pathetic construct of a mediocre pulp-fiction writer, who wanted to give his life some importance in order to compensate for his broken childhood and his ability to scare the people around him away. Lovecraft is clearly shaken by the speech, but realizes that something is wrong about the other him, especially the facts that he keeps asking about about the location of the Necronomicon and constantly calls him Carter. Lovecraft then stabs the other him in the eye, and reveals that he was Wilbur Whateley in disguise.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Necronomicon, of course. Lovecraft is the only one able to use it to somewhat positive effect, and even then it's incredibly dangerous.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The years and dates for which Lovecraft writes certain stories, invents part certain parts of his mythology, and meets certain people are very mixed up, to the point were the story is hardly bearing any resemblance to the real events. But, as John Carpenter muses in the foreword, it would probably be the kind of story Lovecraft would have written about his life, if he had the chance.