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Claude Lalumiere's Fantastic Fiction
Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft

edited by Tom Pomplun

(Eureka Productions, $9.95, 144 pages, trade paperback; published in November 2002.)

H.P. Lovecraft's stories betray a profoundly distasteful unease cover scanwith anyone who isn't learned or aristocratic (preferably both), white, and masculine. His overuse of portentous adjectives and adverbs quickly becomes tiresome. Lovecraft aficionado Gahan Wilson addresses this stylistic overindulgence in his introduction: "commentators on the works of Lovecraft have put him down for his lavish use of unspecific adjectives (which accusation even the most profound admirer of H.P.L. must admit is not entirely inaccurate)."

Yet it's undeniable that his monstrous space gods, mad visionaries, and dangerous grimoires have justly become permanent staples of fantastic fiction.

In Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft, editor Tom Pomplun pays homage to the controversial writer with a selection of comics, fiction, and poetry, with abundant graphics by a diverse crew of illustrators.

Like all the volumes in the Graphic Classics series, this is a gorgeously produced book. The bizarre and compelling artwork, on nearly every page, deliciously spices the mix with humour and terror. Highlights include cartoonist's Matt Howarth's 22-page adaptation of "The Shadow Out of Time", the stylishly witty illustrations of Devon Deveraux and Lisa K. Weber, and Giorgio Comolo's nightmarish portrait of Lovecraft's most famous monster, Cthulhu.

I find most of Lovecraft's fiction just this side of unreadable, yet there's no denying that Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft is a delightful collection -- and probably the best way to sample the writer.

Most of all, Pomplun's admiration of Lovecraft does not blind him to the unsavoury aspects of his character, and the collection includes two comics stories -- one by George Kuchar, the other by Chris Pelletiere -- that lampoon Lovecraft's neuroses and prejudices. The Kuchar piece is particularly funny, while the Pelletiere slides into macabre surrealism.

This is a very attractive and entertaining package.

Originally published in
The Montreal Gazette, Saturday, 31 May 2003.

Claude Lalumière's Fantastic Fiction is a series of
capsule reviews first published in the Saturday Books
section of The Montreal Gazette.

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