If H.P. Lovecraft were alive today, we’d like to imagine he’d be working on one of DC’s New 52 titles, redesigning Superman so his costume was made out of nothing but teeth, and he had anuses where his eyeballs should be. But since Lovecraft isn’t around, it’s been up to various other creators to pick up where he left off, bringing characters and ideas the horror writer created to the graphic format. Here are ten of our favorites:
10. The Atom
Writer Grant Morrison may have created the idea for the all-new Atom, but it was fellow DC Comics’ writer Gail Simone who picked up the baton and ran with it. The size-changing hero may have been a regular guy named Ryan Choi, but the villains he faced were far from it, as his home of Ivy Town opened up portals to other dimensions. Particular to our interests was M’Nagalah, the “Cancer God,” a grotesque puddle of parts who wanted to use Choi for his own ends. And by “own ends,” I should point out that physically, he was nothing but ends.
C’Thulu, probably the most famous of Lovecraft’s creations, plays a key part in Matt Howarth’s comics and novels about the surreal city of Bugtown. And I say key, because C’Thulu is actually the synthesizer player for The Bulldaggers, a band made up of inter-dimensional bugs. Probably the only instance where a Lovecraft character could drive you mad for dancing.
8. H.P. Lovecraft: Master of Horror
In The ‘90s, Adventure Comics – a subsidiary of Malibu Comics – published an anthology series based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, with a new, illustrated story in every issue. It only made it to four issues, though… Because everyone involved in making it died!!! Not true.
7. Criminal Macabre
Cal McDonald is a criminal investigator in this series of books, and though he starts by investigating real crime, it always spirals out of supernatural control. Steve Niles – who wrote the book – has said that he was heavily influenced by Lovecraft, and you can see it in Ben Templesmith’s monstrous drawings. However, the tone is radically different than the more psychological horror H.P. preferred.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, and Harry Houdini team up with supernatural investigator Charles Fort to battle Tchos-Tchos and the evil Illuminated Ones. Originally serialized in 2000AD, the story is not just one of the first horror tales to run in the title, it was the break-through book for artist Frazier Irving.
Writer/artist Mike Mignola has drawn on pretty much every aspect of folklore and mythology for his landmark run on Hellboy, so why wouldn’t he also embrace Lovecraftian myths, too? In fact, Mignola did more than embrace it – he outright paid homage to it, with a two part mini-series that teamed Big Red with two DC Comics heroes, Starman, and Batman, to fight an Elder God.
4. Cthulhu Tales
BOOM! Studios has released a number of Lovecraft inspired comics, but one of the best is this collection of short stories, which includes writers from comics, TV, and even movies. And as opposed to a lot of the super serious takes on Lovecraft that exist elsewhere, Cthulu Tales allows its writers to actually be funny, sometimes. Though mostly horrific. There’s also a similarly excellent follow-up called Fall of Cthulu, which is written by one of this series’ contributors, Michael Nelson. Check ‘em both out, yo! That’s how I talk now.
3. The Dark Goodbye
An American Manga from Tokyopop, The Dark Goodbye seamlessly mixes private eye tropes with Lovecraft tropes to create something terrifying, and new. Plus, despite it being manga mixed with Lovecraft, there is barely any tentacle rape! A triumph of the human spirit!
2. Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham
Where Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is tangentially influenced by Lovecraft, for this DC Comics Elseworlds series, the creator embraced H.P. full on. In case you can’t guess from the title, an Elder God type creature is unearthed after centuries, and brought to Gotham City, where it comes face to face with the Dark Knight himself. A perfect blending of… Well, everything, The Doom That Came To Gotham is a must read for comic book and Lovecraft fans alike.
1. The Courtyard
Sure, Alan Moore’s The Courtyard is just one issue long. Sure, it seems to be a pretty simple Lovecraft-esque story. But like all of Moore’s work, this tale of a brilliant FBI Agent investigating a series of dismemberments has far more going on below the surface. Look too close, and it might drive you insane…