Selfmadehero is a publisher from the UK that has slowly assembled an impressive catalogue of graphic novels and anthologies. They have been particularly enterprising when it comes to adapting the stories and novels of HP Lovecraft. Last year we saw At the Mountains of Madness and The Lovecraft Anthology Volume I; later this year we are anticipating The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. All of their publications are handsome productions and well worth acquiring. The Lovecraft Anthology Volume II is a bit pricey in the US, listing at $ 19.95, although it is an import and has a generous page count of 128. Editing is by Dan Lockwood, who also did the honors for Volume I. The very attractive cover art is by Fancesco Francavilla, and shows some very hard looking characters who may be cultists or street thugs you don't really want to meet. It sets the mood perfectly. The introduction was by Robert Price and did not do too much for me.
Interestingly, the member of the creative team here who also appeared in Volume I is the editor, Mr. Lockwood. As far as I know these are the only comic book adaptations of these particular stories, except as I note in my comments to follow. My bottom line is that this book is highly recommended.
Pickman's Model - adaptation Jamie Delano, illustration Steve Pugh - Bravo to Mr. Pugh for the wonderful images he created. Much like HPL's prose, most of the ghastly works of Pickman are merely hinted at, leaving it to the imagination of the reader. We instead see the reactions of Thurber and Eliot, and the mad leers of Pickman himself. What a great way to start the book.
The Temple - adaptation Chris Lackey, illustration Adrian Salmon - I was less moved by the adaptation of the Temple, but that's because I like the story less. Mr. Lackey gave us a serviceable script and the stylized art of Mr. Salmon complemented it well.
From Beyond - adaptation David Camus, illustration Nicholas Fructus - From Beyond is another brilliant success for selfmadehero. I loved Mr. Fructus' art and the adaptation was spot on. What a great addition to the growing body of Lovecraftian comics.
He - adaptation Dwight McPherson, illustration Paul Peart-Smith - I liked Dwight McPherson's script well enough but the art left me flat, particularly compared to some of the other stories included here. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't my favorite.
The Hound - adaptation Chad Fifer, illustration Bryan Baugh - Mrs Fifer and Baugh give us a very effective (and pretty gory) version of The Hound. I liked the vivid colors of the amulet and the blood in an otherwise sepia toned tapestry.
The Nameless City - adaptation Pat Mills, illustration Attila Futaki - The Nameless City is a marvelous adaptation of HPL. I give major kudos to artist Attila Futaki and colorist Gerg Cuilhaumond. If it weren't for the inclusion of The Festival, this would have been my favorite.
The Picture in the House - adaptation Benjamin Dickinson, illustration Mick McMahon - The competing version is an adaptation by Steven Philip Jones, illustrated by Wayne Reid for Caliber Comics, available in a graphic novel compilation from Transfuzion Publishing. I don't really recollect the older version. No matter, I think the creative team of Dickinson and McMahon do the story justice. Although the art seem deliberately stylized and unpolished, I actually thought tension developed quite nicely throughout the panels; I was pretty creeped out by the end so hats off to the artists for achieving their goal.
The Festival - adaptation Simon Spurrier, illustration Matt Timson - For me this was the crowning jewel of the issue. The art was effectively atmospheric and the text conveyed the mood of HPL's story perfectly. Anyway, I really like most of HPL's Kingsport stories.
The Statement of Randolph Carter - adaptation Dan Lockwood, illustration Warwick Johnson Cadwell - The main competition for this version is from the old Caliber Comics (available in the graphic novel compilation The Worlds of HP Lovecraft from Transfuzion Publishing), adapted by Steven Philip Jones and illustrated by Christopher Jones. First of all, I have to say, I think this one of HPL's worst stories. Even when I was 13 I thought the punch line was silly. No matter, just as musicians insist on performing Beethoven's juvenilia, so we continue to get riffs on HPL's lesser lights. I didn't care much for either the current version or the older one. The adaptation by Mr. Lockwood is OK enough but the art left me flat.
So of course this is a mandatory purchase for fanciers of Lovecraftian comics and Lovecraftian art. If you avoid graphic novels, let your hair down a little and sample this. I spent a very enjoyable few hours perusing the book and will do so again in a week or so. Bring on Volume III!