Why I’m Turning H.P. Lovecraft Into An Action Hero (Sort Of)

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Lovecraft: The Blasphemously Large First Issue by Craig Engler, Daniel Govar, Mat Lopes and Lewis LaRosa. Guest Artists: Brian Hurtt, Dennis Calero, Lukas Ketner, John Bivens, Richard Luong, Jamie Tanner, Ryan Dunlavey. Estimated Publishing Date: March 2015

 A 48-page limited edition comic that recasts H.P. Lovecraft as a modern-day, kick-ass action hero & alchemist. Contact: craig.engler@gmail.com

 

by Craig Engler

I’m running a Kickstarter right now for Lovecraft: The Blasphemously Large First Issue which recasts Lovecraft as a modern-day alchemist and action hero.

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While a lot of people love the idea, I’ve gotten a few comments from others who’ve said they’re perplexed about why I’d want to turn a pasty faced (literally) reclusive author into an action hero. Someone on a Reddit summed it up this way: “The thing is, Lovecraft was about as from from an action-adventure hero as you can get.”

At first glance it may indeed seem like Lovecraft is an unlikely choice to recast as an action hero. But if you look a little deeper at Lovecraft’s writing, I think it actually makes total sense. I even suspect H.P. would heartily approve of the idea if he was still alive. There are two reasons why I think that, and also a caveat:

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Reason 1: Lovecraft already put a more adventuresome version of himself into some of his own stories, in the form of his well-known alter ego Randolph Carter. Like Lovecraft, Carter is an obscure writer (at least Lovecraft was at the time) who’s quiet, contemplative, a dreamer, and an antiquarian. But unlike Lovecraft he was also a member of the French Foreign Legion, wounded in battle, who musters up the courage to investigate abandoned crypts, chase after monsters in cemeteries and even track down the legendary dream city of Kadath. So Lovecraft already set a precedent for turning himself into something of an action-adventure hero.

Also, Lovecraft famously encouraged other writers to take elements from his stories and use and remix them as they liked, and that even extended to his own personage. When his protege Robert Bloch asked for permission to “kill” Lovecraft in a short story, Lovecraft sent him a signed document stating that Bloch was “fully authorised to portray, murder, annihilate, disintegrate, transfigure, metamorphose, or otherwise manhandle the undersigned in the tale entitled ‘The Shambler from the Stars.’”

So I don’t think Howard would mind me borrowing him for my tale.

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Reason 2: While Lovecraft is widely known for his florid, moody and atmospheric writing, underneath the plethora of adjectives he loved to use (“squamous” is a favorite of mine), his characters actually went on breathtaking adventures. They mounted expeditions to the arctic, traveled to remote areas of the sea, fought battles in a submarine, crawled into catacombs, resurrected the dead, traveled in time and fought hideous monstrosities.

And they did all that with an impressive array of weaponry at hand: pistols, big-game rifles, automatic weapons, flamethrowers, the aforementioned German U-Boat and many others. And let’s not forget the erstwhile sailors of the Alert who rammed Cthulhu with their ship in their attempt to escape! So beneath all the eldritch, indescribable, unnamable, unutterable, unmentionable, lurking, loathsome, hideous, shunned, spectral, squamous horrors that Lovecraft wrote about, there were strong undercurrents of action and adventure.

There’s also the fact that Lovecraft himself was a gun aficionado. According to biographer and Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi, the reclusive writer had an “impressive collection of rifles, revolvers and other firearms.” Lovecraft even fancied himself “a fair shot till my eyes played hell with my accuracy.” So he’s definitely someone you’d want to have along on your adventures when you end up battling gibbering horrors.

The Caveat:

And finally, the caveat. The Lovecraft in this comic isn’t just the writer himself transported to modern times. Our Lovecraft is a fictionalized creation that, while based on both H.P. and his writing, is a unique character unto himself. The kind of guy who wouldn’t hesitate to take a chainsaw into battle against tentacled nightmares, or to delve deep into the raving madness of the Necronomicon.

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About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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