I love this Lovecraft resurgence that we seem to be experiencing. Even more, I love that there are some amazing talents out there, with the imagination and the drive to make Lovecraft to the youngest readers. I just talked about my C is for Cthulhu board book last week, and this week, I’ve got an all-ages (middle grade and up) graphic novel by Bruce Brown, Howard Lovecraft and the Three Kingdoms.
A step up (in the right direction) from C is for Cthulhu, Howard Lovecraft and the Three Kingdoms collects the three storylines Bruce Brown and artists Renzo Podesta and Thomas Boatwright have created about young Howard: Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom, and Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness.
The story begins on Christmas Eve, 1894, as young Howard accompanies his mother on a visit to his father, Winfield, in Butler Sanitarium. His father babbles on about destroying a book, and that “they’re coming”, but Howard is taken home before he can get more information from his father. His mother gives him a book that his father wrote for Christmas – a book that opens a portal to a strange new world, where Howard meets a giant creature named Thu Thu Hmong, but who Howard decides to call “Spot”. Yes, folks. Young H.P. Lovecraft calls the Great Cthulhu “Spot”, and it is beautiful.
Spot leads Howard to the king’s castle in the kingdom of R’yleh,where he meets King Abdul. At first, Howard thinks he’s found a friend in Abdul, but that changes pretty quickly when Abdul attempts to sacrifice Howard.
Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom picks up on the storyline established in Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom. Abdul has kidnapped Howard’s family, turns them into fishlike Deep Ones, and threatens to eat them unless Howard gives up the Necronomicon. Spot is imprisoned. Where can Howard turn? To Smithie, a constable with a love of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and his cat.
Finally, we have Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness, where we return to Howard’s dad, who is dying. An alien creature is inside him and will do anything to get out. To save his life, Howard, Smithie, and Spot (you didn’t think he’d be captured forever, did you?) head to a government base in Antarctica to seek out the one doctor who can save Winfield: Doctor Herbert West.
This is the most humorous of all the Howard Lovecraft books. Smithie is comic relief, and pairing him with Dr. West is gold. The “I must take samples!”/”Not now doc!” exchange between the two is laugh-out-loud funny, and watching the Great Cthulhu ask Howard to take home a demonic bird is as sweet as it is hysterical.
Ultimately, sacrifices must be made, and to keep the world safe and have a chance at curing Howard’s dad, one member of the team must make the ultimate sacrifice – or maybe not.
Will we get more Howard Lovecraft adventures in the (near) future? We can only hope so. I LOVED reading this series – the voice was perfect for younger readers and adults alike. It’s a great introduction to Lovecraft, with just enough mythos to whet appetites and get them ready for the madness later on. The art is a wonderful accompaniment to the story, with just enough dark humor and exaggerated expression to communicate the look and feel of a Lovecraft tale to kids. I loved seeing various characters from Lovecraft’s stories show up in these books, and I’ll admit it – I clapped when Good Doctor West showed up on the scene.
Howard Lovecraft and the Three Kingdoms just had a successful Kickstarter that I’m still kicking myself for missing out on, but you can get yourself a copy of the compendium at the Arcana comics website.
If you’re a Lovecraft fan, raising one, or want to be one, this is one of the best places to start. My 11 year-old wants this under his Christmas tree, and I have it on good authority that it’ll be there, with tentacles on.
HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE THREE KINGDOMS
Writer: Bruce Brown
Artists: Renzo Podesta, Thomas Boatwright
Cover Artist: Rob Corless
Publisher: Arcana Studios