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Review Group Week 166 - STRANGE ADVENTURES OF LOVECRAFT #1

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thefourthman
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Postby thefourthman » Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:51 pm

48THRiLLS wrote:I can agree with that... after a 3rd read, I decided that I may have scored the art a little high but I think since I really enjoyed the story it upped the art score a bit.

awesome, I was starting to think I was wrong or something.

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Postby MrBlack » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:54 am

I love Lovecraft's work and yet i completely forgot to pick this one up! I'll have to see if my shop has it next week, if they even got any.

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Postby Punchy » Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:13 am

The Strange Adventures Of H.P. Lovecraft #1(of 4) - 'About A Writer And His Book' - Carter, Salmons & Byrne

Story - This was pretty damn good!, 7/10!

OK, you want more than that? This is actually very much my kind of story, I like period pieces, especially those that put supernatural or sci-fi or superhero conceits in exciting periods of US history, which is infinitely more glamorous than British History, I love it when we get a Cap story in WW2, or New Frontier, and Planetary's explorations of the 20th century. Actually, Planetary is my only real previous exposure to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, he showed up in the prestige format Planetary/Authority one-shot, as a racist nutjob, believing in 'Negro Eggs', I think Snow might have kicked him a bit, not sure. So I'm not a fan of Lovecraft, I know who Ctulhu is, but that's it, and this seems to be a good introduction to the man, and much more flattering than Ellis was!

We open in 783 AD, with a famous Egyptian (I think) Poet, begins pouring out his writings into service of the old ones, and is eventually ripped to pieces by mysterious tentacles, This was a strong prologue, as it served to show that this story is not just a biography, it is horror itself, and it was pretty effective in it's scare tactics, we never really see what happens to the poet, just various body parts 'kra-popping' away, it's pretty freaking.

After this, we have a time leap to rival the Battlestar Galactica finale, as we jump forward 12 centuries to the 1920s in Chicago, and a pulp magazine publisher arguing with his employee over whether Howard Lovecraft's stories are any good, this was probably my favourite scene in the book, very evocative of the time period, with busy, bustling backgrounds, and fast talking hucksters. Interesting that we're dealing with Pulps here, they seem to be having a bit of a resurgence of late, with Brubaker and Phillips' Incognito, and the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen dealing with pulp concepts, and now this, looking at the men behind them, it can't be long before we get a new Doc Savage or Shadow comic can it? Who knows? Oh yeah, the Shadow knows.

Anyway, I digress, this scene also serves an important story function, introducing H.P. Lovecraft to the reader, we learn he is a writer of pulp stories, in particular weird ones, and that they are seen to have higher literary value than most, but that is in conflict with the commercial nature of the pulps, it's very well done, and doesn't seem expositiony at all. After this, we finally see Lovecraft, lying in bed, late for a meeting with a woman, and this scene was useful too, the popular opinion of Lovecraft is that of a horror genius, a creepy guy, but this reminds us, he's just a dude, and he was in love with a sexy librarian too. But of course, we also get some good old creepy dimensional incursion stuff, guardians of gates and that stuff, zuul. I think the strength of this book is the juxtaposition of Howard Lovecraft's own life, and the fantastical elements, and this tension is something the book itself addresses, in Lovecraft's narration about how the best writers do not write about themselves, but they use their imaginations to imagine entirely new worlds. But what does a writer do when his imaginary worlds start encroaching on his real life? It's a fascinating question, and one I hope the series focuses on.

After this, things move along quickly, Lovecraft is mugged by 2 sailors, Sylvia (his love interest) is actually engaged to 'a war hero' and 'Providence's most eligeble bachelor', Howard's mother is in an asylum, and he disagrees with their treatments, and Howard begins to think of writing the Necronomicon, once more, we get the juxtaposition of real life, soap-opera scenes, like Howard seeing Sylvia having sex in the back of her car, with the more fantastical elements.

Then, we get the real start of the story, the Sailor's who previously mugged Lovecraft are attacked and killed by more mysterious tentacles, Howard wakes up thinking it was a dream he had, and a starting point for a new story, but it actually happened!

Overall, this was a very strong opening issue, with some excellent moments and ideas, it was an excellent picture of the 1920s and portrait of Lovecraft, I think the best thing about the book is how it mixes real life true moments about Lovecraft with Carter's story, and the fantasy, it reminds me of one of my favourite early Matt Fraction books, the Five Fists Of Science, which combined the real life figures of Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain into a fantasy story.

Art - This was interesting, and a good compliment to the story, Tony Salmons is capable of handling both the more esoteric fantasy scenes, and also the human drama. Some of his angle choices were odd, but it was distinctive, and fluid. I liked how freemoving the art was, it seemed to be trying to move off the page almost, rushed and busy, but in a good way. This was added to by how the SFX were integrated into the art. It's unconventional, and not my favourite style, but it fits with this book, where something cleaner probably would not have worked.

Best Line - 'Howard Lovecraft could have had me with a Cigar Band'

As I said, this gets a 7/10

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Postby ****** » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:24 pm

My copy still hasn't gotten here. Hopefully tomorrow. :(

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Postby guitarsmashley » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:42 pm

Fucking teacher kept us in class later than the comic stores hours. sorry.
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Postby malcolm reynolds » Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:43 am

Just picked up a copy, flicked through it, not a fan of the art at all. Will post a review in the morning.

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Postby SuperginraiX » Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:45 am

This, of course, was not at my comic shop.

So, no review. :?
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Postby ****** » Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:06 pm

There's a certain amount of symmetry to it at least... 5 reviews for a $5 book.

http://www.theouthousers.com/content/view/3512/176/

Hopefully I'll have my copy when I get home tonight and will be conscious long enough to post a review.

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Postby ****** » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:50 am

Finally received my copy yesterday and read it late last night.

I've read a little Lovecraft, emphasis on little. Pretty much everything I know about him I know from a forward in a collection of his stories and just going off of memory this seemed to match up pretty closely with that.

This felt a bit more straight forward than I think I was expecting. It's mostly setup and introduction with little teases of the strange to come. As a result it felt a bit plain and while it was probably enough to get me to order the eventual trade, it didn't make me want to continue with the single issues.

I enjoyed the art a lot. There did seem to be a lack of consistency, but that felt like an artistic choice to me. The colors did an excellent job of setting an appropriate atmosphere.

Story: 6.5
Art: 8
Overall: 7.25

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Postby ****** » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:59 am

thefourthman wrote:So... um ... that was interesting, I will have to read it again to score... it was a might bit confusing and way too much like reading Fitzgerald for my taste. the art is a very mixed bag. I will sleep on it, read it again and score tomorrow.


Stop fantasizing about Cape Lady already and post a review/score. :x

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Postby thefourthman » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:22 am

amlah6 wrote:Finally received my copy yesterday and read it late last night.

I've read a little Lovecraft, emphasis on little. Pretty much everything I know about him I know from a forward in a collection of his stories and just going off of memory this seemed to match up pretty closely with that.

This felt a bit more straight forward than I think I was expecting. It's mostly setup and introduction with little teases of the strange to come. As a result it felt a bit plain and while it was probably enough to get me to order the eventual trade, it didn't make me want to continue with the single issues.

I enjoyed the art a lot. There did seem to be a lack of consistency, but that felt like an artistic choice to me. The colors did an excellent job of setting an appropriate atmosphere.

Story: 6.5
Art: 8
Overall: 7.25

Lack of Consistency, artist choice or artistic failure, you decide. Yeah the only way I would take consistency as an artistic choice is with an extensive afterword and sketch samples from the artist... otherwise I have to think that it is skill. What else has Salmons worked on?

The art was horribly lazy in places.

I will write a real review in the next few days, and one day when we are all older it will get posted on that site I work for and I will link it. As for score...
Story 7
Art 4
Overall 5.5

I like the idea of this one enough to check out the next issue though, but it has a lot of work to do...

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Postby ****** » Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:24 pm

thefourthman wrote:Lack of Consistency, artist choice or artistic failure, you decide. Yeah the only way I would take consistency as an artistic choice is with an extensive afterword and sketch samples from the artist... otherwise I have to think that it is skill. What else has Salmons worked on?

The art was horribly lazy in places.


It was really late and I did rush the book a bit since I needed to get to sleep, but I felt like within each scene the art was consistent but depending on the scene he would tweak his style. Scenes based in reality would be tighter than some of the more Lovecraftian inspired scenes. Hence Necromnicon prelude scene a bit loose, train scene with editors a bit tighter.

Maybe I'm wrong and I was just sleepy, but that was my impression anyway.

On the website for the book, it says that Salmons has done some mainstream comics work, but primarily he makes a living as a storyboard artist for films.

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Postby Victorian Squid » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:16 pm

Eh, I finally got a closer look at this book. I should be into it as I know Lovecraft pretty well (including his book of Cthulhu poetry--Hallmark really dropped the ball by not buying the rights to use that stuff!), but I didn't like the art enough to buy it and it just didn't read that well to me. It'll probably get better after some background has been established in #1.
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