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Take a webcomic tour through H.P. Lovecraft's Dream Cycle stories

Illustration for article titled Take a webcomic tour through H.P. Lovecrafts Dream Cycle stories

In the canon of H.P. Lovecraft, stories like "Pickman's Model," "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," "The Dunwich Horror," and, of course, "The Call of Cthulhu," are the most frequently adapted, but cartoonist Jason Thompson delves into the rich fantasy worlds of Lovecraft's Dreamlands in a series of webcomic adaptations of the Dream Cycle stories.


You may have seen Thompson here on io9 talking about the manga industry, or you may be familiar with his tabletop gaming comic King of RPGs. My first exposure to Thompson's work was through his (unfinished) horror comic The Stiff, so Lovecraft's work seemed a natural fit. But while Thompson can draw a shoggoth or an Elder Thing with the best of them, what makes his Lovecraft comics especially compelling is the detail with which he renders the elaborate settings. Thompson uses Lovecraft's prose to propel the stories forward, but lets his own illustrations stand in for the descriptions. Thompson gives us a city worthy of Kuranes' obsessive searching in "Celephaïs," shows us the powerful seas and foreboding lands traveled in "The White Ship," and draws Sarnath's opulence in so much detail that it feels like he's describing a historical place instead of a fictional one. And his more loosely rendered comics make room for those twists of horror: the empty eyes that follow a visit to "The Strange High House in the Mist," the fearsome gods and unsettling felines of "The Cats of Ulthar." It's a gorgeous exploration of some of Lovecraft's less traveled realms, one rendered with a great deal of respect and affection for the source material.

And, when he isn't adapting the Dream Cycle stories, Thompson posts sketches from other Lovecraft and Lovecraft-inspired stories. So we get to see him do a bit of Cthulhu after all.


The Strange High House in the Mist [Mockman]

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Sean Daugherty

Lovecraft's Dream Cycle doesn't get enough respect, IMO. While his later cosmic horror material is justifiably loved, stories like "The Cats of Ulthar", "Nyaralathotep", and "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" are among his most creative work. For all that he influenced later generations of horror writers, Lovecraft himself always seemed more comfortable working in the realm of gothic fantasy. His later material tends to be more straight-up horror (with some exceptions, like "The Dreams in the Witch-House" and "The Colour Out of Space," which wasn't set in the Dreamlands, but has a similarly surrealistic style), and while it's not awful, it's not as compelling, IMO.