"Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Arcana Studios
Written by Bruce Brown and Dwight L. MacPherson
Illustrated by Thomas Boatwright
2012, 73 Pages
Graphic Novel released on May 2nd, 2012
That rascally Lovecraft boy is back again. After saving the Frozen Kingdom with his pet Elder God, Spot, Howard is under attack by even darker forces. They have his family and only his insane father can help him save them. Oh, and he's growing gills. That's a cause for concern, right? Bruce Brown returns to the all-ages HP Lovecraft tale and makes it more than just a boy and his pet. Now it's a boy and his father in Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom.
I said it in my review for Brown's previous effort, but it bears repeating here, there's no question that Lovecraft was and still is a huge influence on horror writers. He's a legend in the business, but just about everything you read that falls under that Lovecraftian umbrella is dark, depressing, and often unnecessarily gory. Yes, the Elder Gods are creatures that if seen can drive a normal human to madness, but it doesn't always have to be doom and gloom. Brown writes a story that you can read with your kids that has to do with Cthulu. That takes skill. It's also incredibly refreshing to read.
Aiding the author on art this time around is Thomas Boatwright. Renzo Podesta drew the Frozen Kingdom story. Boatwright has a style that works so well with this book. It's light and fun, while also having creepy moments that won't give your kids nightmares. These are monsters that they can get behind. Having Cthulu (aka "Spot") as Howard's buddy helps. Here you have this hulking beast that would be terrifying on his own, but he's a big softy and willing to do anything to protect Howard. When Howard gets to the bigger and badder villains, they start to fill the sky in an impressive painting. This is the kind of piece I'd love to get framed with huge tentacles pulling down from the sky, surrounding a huge castle. It's a great shot.
Boatwright's characters are cartoonish, but that obviously meshes perfectly with the story. They also fit the archetypes that Brown has created. The rebellious young boy. The loving (yet crazy) father. The rough-and-tough police officer.
It's safe to say that you're not going to have more fun reading a Lovecraft story than with Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom. This is an adventure comic that's geared towards children, but adults are going to find a lot to enjoy, especially if you have that inner child with an active imagination.