After taking on two of I.N.J Culbard’s brilliant science fiction horror graphic novel adaptations in our last 100 Pages of Horror with The King in Yellow and The Mountains of Madness we take on two more with his amazing books bringing to life a pair of H.P Lovecraft’s most surreal and bizarre tales The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and The Shadow Out of Time.
Publishing his work through the great Self Made Hero I.N.J. Culbard is an artist and writer who has penned and pencilled work for Dark Horse Presents, the Judge Dredd Megazine and 2000 AD. An acclaimed animation director with considerable experience in directing commercials, developing projects for television, and producing and directing short films his visual flair for adapting famous literary works has seen him craft a series of Sherlock Holmes graphic novels with writer Ian Edginton.
Converting H.P Lovecraft’s work to the graphic novel genre is a brilliant move due to the lush and unusual visuals Lovecraft details not only in the myriad of monsters he created but the locales his characters journey through none so exotic as in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath which takes place in the dream world of its protagonist Randolph Carter.
Obsessed by the visions of strange and beautiful sunset city he sees each night he sleeps Carter becomes determined to find the place of his dreams striking out on an epic and peril filled exploration to reach that which he believes is real.
Prompted by his friend who also recurrently dreams of magical faraway lands Carter takes to his bed and beseeches the gods to allow him access to the magnificent city. Given the opportunity he desires he sets off however each step of the way he is beset by strange races and monstrous beings as well as hushed whispers of ancient daemons, evil realms and the crawling chaos that watches him from the darkness throughout his Dream-Quest.
Unpublished in his lifetime Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle story was never revised making it all the more loos and fluid much like the dreams it describes. Appearing like a blend of Studio Ghibli, Guillermo del Toro and The Wizard of Oz The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is filled with imaginative landscapes and creatures all beautifully realised by Culbard’s art work including an army of talking cats, hideous alien lifeforms, terrifying underground kingdoms and helpful ghouls lead by one of his friends who has decided to stay in the land of dreams forever more.
Equal parts adventure, fantasy and horror The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath inspires feelings of elation, fear and nostalgia in both the central character Randolph Carter and the reader accentuated no end by Culbard’s interpretation which captures the vivid dreams and lurid nightmares perfectly.
In many ways The Shadow out of Time is the perfect companion piece to The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath dealing as it does again with obsession and discovery in the strange case of amnesia in the central character who slowly uncovers the unearthly and unbelievable events of his missing years and his condition all of which may or may not have all been nothing but a dream.
Spanning vast swathes of time and space the captivating story of Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee a professor of political economy at Miskatonic University all begins with an unexplainable fainting spell in 1908 from which he only returns from in 1913.
The eerie element to it all is that although he has no recollection of the past 5 years it seems another personality had taken over his mind and body impersonating as the professor and dedicating the time to intense studies in history, science, art, language and folk law as well as delving into occult organisations and exotic travels to seldom visited locations.
Although many doctors believe that a secondary personality took over Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee he himself becomes fanatical in finding the truth and when he starts to have flashes of inhabiting another body which is in no way human he starts to see the dreadful and disturbing truth behind his exile that has implications on not just himself but the whole of humanity.
Linking in not only with the Lovecraft mythos it also directly references The Mountains of Madness as it features the narrator William Dyer who teams up with Peaslee to take one final journey to attempt to uncover evidence of his abduction.
Investigating ideas of individuality and self as well as the constant pursuit of knowledge, time, space, madness and mankind’s place in the universe like many other Lovecraft works it deals with some heavy subjects all the while gripping the reader with a great yarn and a truly sympathetic charter all expertly adapted by Culbard making this graphic novel as with all I have reviewed from Self Made Hero essential works of art and fiction for anyone with a love of horror and science fiction.
As mentioned previously The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and The Shadow Out of Time and I.N.J Culbard’s other works are still available from all good bookshops, as well as on digital formats for Kindle, iBooks and Sequential find out more on all of them at http://selfmadehero.com/