Thursday, October 30, 2008

13 for Halloween: When the abyss stares back

It's probably not much of a shock to find out I'm a fan of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos he inspired.

Not only did Lovecraft's work set the groundwork for modern horror, it also touches on perhaps the most terrifying idea of all: The universe doesn't care. What's worse, something you've always suspected about the cold, vast and incomprehensible emptiness is true — when the universe does notice you, it's out to get you (oh, and there's nothing you can do about it).

Another thing I like about Lovecraft's writing (as well as a lot of the stuff written by those following in his trudging footsteps) is the whole idea of the unseen. It's not uncommon for the horror that falls on the protagonists to be kind of ... peripheral. A lot of times, the heroes (or more often, the victims) never see the actual monster itself. Awful, terrible things are happening to people, and it's not even the worst of it because what's coming out of the darkness has only brushed past them like a tunnel breeze pushed ahead by the oncoming freight train.

Cthulhu Tales, which started out as an anthology series and recently went monthly, gets it. A mix of funny, scary, modern and period stories, the series usually has at least one story told in the heebie-jeebie inducing Lovecraft tradition. A good example was published in the very first issue of Cthulhu Tales (available in its entirety online!) and is still the first story I think of when talking about the series. So hold on to your program and pray for intermission; the curtain is rising on ...


THE KING IN YELLOW!

Panels from Cthulhu Tales #1
John Rogers, writer; Andy Kuhn, artist

Click here to see more 13 for Halloween!

2 comments:

Scott said...

And that one right there -- one of my absolute favorite short horror comics. I'm an absolute sucker for Lovecraftian stuff and especially anything having to do with the King in Yellow, the Yellow Sign, etc., etc., etc.

Such a beautiful, perfect combo of cosmic horror and surburban living.

John Rogers is just so freakin' awesome.

Maxo said...

I love this particular story. And that's a good call on the balance between cosmic horror against the backdrop of typical suburban life — I think that's a big part of what makes it so damn creepy.