Our very special literary review feature 100 Page of Horror takes a trip into the realm of weird fiction in the form of two graphic novel adaptations by the brilliant I.N.J Culbard published by Self Made Hero and perfect for fans of both indie comics and classic horror fiction.
After tackling British horror movie director Leigh Dovey, Sci-Horror novel Bad Code and Stephen King’s most recent releases Mr. Mercedes and the sequel to The Shinning Doctor Sleep we decided to take the first 50 pages of each of I.N.J Culbard graphic novels and give you an insight into these amazing adaptations.
First to face 50 pages of fear is The King in Yellow and many people may recognise its title from its mentions in the much heralded first season of the TV show True Detective where several phrases from Robert W. Chambers original book of short stories first published in 1895 appeared throughout the series.
Although the author became more famous in his own lifetime for his work in romance and historical novels his strange tales especially The King in Yellow, much like the titulature play within the stories, have captured the minds of many individuals over the years inspiring everyone from H.P. Lovecraft to Neil Gaiman to The Blue Oyster Cult to George R.R Martin to several video games.
Award winning artist I.N.J Culbard who has worked for Vertigo and 2000AD as well as publishing a critically acclaimed Sherlock Holmes series with Ian Edginton takes the first four of Chamber short stories The Repairer of Reputations, The Mask, The Yellow Sign and In the Court of the Dragon all of which are linked by the mysterious forbidden play The King In Yellow which once read drives the reader insane and seamlessly weaves them together over the course of the book.
The first 50 pages detail the story of Hildred Castaigne a New Yorker who having suffered a head injury whilst riding was committed to a mental asylum. Although released soon after and receiving a clean bill of mental health his behaviour has become increasingly strange and his close collaboration with the deformed and nefarious Mr. Wilde has worried many of the people around him.
Wilde is a Repairer of Reputations and thus controls many others all of which are under his influence and Castaigne who is obsessed by prophecies and paragraphs from The King In Yellow seems intent on using Wilde and his minions to not only take what he believes is his birth right from his confused cousin but also set about changing the whole of America.
The graphic novel format is perfect for realising the strange and surreal story and the beautiful yet horrific artwork perfectly evokes the contagious decent into chaos happening all around as The King In Yellow is passed between one person to the next with catastrophic results.
Culbard’s excellent graphic novel much like the mesmerising play draws the reader in and by the end of the first chapter you are as hocked to the ensuing story as the poor deranged characters pushing you to read the rest probably in one sitting as I did although hopefully without the same fateful results as those within the pages who read the sinister and infectious The King in Yellow.
Among horror writers H.P Lovecraft has impacted modern horror as we know it now more than most with his strange and surreal tales of monsters, madness, fantastical science fiction and ancient supernatural fantasies. Although only recognised for his genius in the genre after his death the stories he created have gone on to influence many receiving reprints and adaptations over and over again.
For those uninitiated into the weird tales of Lovecraft At the Mountains of Madness originally published in 1936 is a brilliant starting point ironically as it was written towards the end of his life.
Explaining and connecting various elements of his Cthulhu mythos including the evil Necronomicon, familiar to Evil Dead lovers, the multi eyed beasts known as Shoggoths among many other elements it serves to give novices a brief overview of the amazing nightmarish world Lovecraft captured in his work prompting them to investigate further.
Based on the real life adventures of the time I.N.J Culbard’s graphic novel of At the Mountains of Madness details an Antarctic expedition from Miskatonic University that although beginning innocently enough takes a terrifying turn when the scientists discover a cryptic creatures markings on fossils that are over five hundred million years old.
All of the group want to push further into the snowy landscape to investigate the unearthing all that is expect Professor Dyer who tells the tale and is wary of the objects and their investigation.
Outvoted the majority of the team leave Dyer excited and infused with this ancient alien finding however miles away from base they find not only the jagged mountain ranged that come to be dubbed the Mountains of Madness but also a complete alien life.
Plunging headlong into horror from this point it is easy to see how many writers where inspired by Lovecraft’s story from J.G Ballard’s The Waiting Grounds to John Carpenters The Thing and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus among others. Culbard perfectly captures the barren remote landscape and unhospitable conditions the teams face as well as the bizarre beasts and otherworldly structures in the city the hero’s encounter making the words and story spring to life effortlessly and inventively.
Like The King in Yellow At the Mountains of Madness is a brilliant adaptation and perfect for fans of the original stories, comic enthusiast or those simply seeking to expand their horror library. The King in Yellow is now out in stores and online, r.r.p £14.99 and all of I.N.J Culbard’s Lovecraft titles including and The Mountains of Madness 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/
Look out for our 100 PAGES OF HORROR for two more of I.N.J Culbard’s Lovecraft adaptations The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and The Shadow out of Time very soon.