We recently had a chance to speak with Mac Carter, the writer behind Image Comics’ upcoming series, The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft. This 4-issue mini series tell the tale of the real Howard Lovecraft, but with a unique spin. We all know the horrors that dwelled inside the mind of the writer…what if those horrors escaped into the real world?
After all, there are some out there who wonder if there may have been some truth behind the omnipotent Old Ones that Lovecraft wrote about. Many books and movies have taken inspiration from Lovecraft, but it’s rare that Lovecraft is featured as a character in these tales. Mac Carter, Tony Salmons, and Adam Byrne hope to change all that and bring a unique, pulp-inspired, scary action tale of the writer on April 8th from Image Comics!
Check out our exclusive interview with Mac Carter after the jump!
Well, why don’t we start by telling us a little bit about how you came up with the idea for the series?
While walking around the San Diego Comic-Con, Jeff Blitz and I knocked around the idea of a series of web-based horror shorts centered on Lovecraft as a writer stricken with a horrible curse–each night when he falls asleep, his subconscious looses terrible monsters into the real world. Our inspiration came from multiple sources; a love of the Universal horror films, Lovecraft’s writings (the Cthulhu Mythos mostly), and lastly, the poor guy’s rich and tortured biography. We talked over the project with a really talented artist we had just worked with, Adam Byrne, and shortly thereafter “The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft” was born. That was 2000. Nearly a decade later, the first arc of our finished comic book series hits the stands. In between, the project has moved forward in fits and starts, shepherded by our blind passion for the idea. We’ve always believed that the character and the core premise–like the Wolf Man or Dracula–were something anyone could enjoy.
Can you tell us a little about the storyline of The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft?
Toiling away as a timid and eccentric writer of pulp horror stories, H.P. Lovecraft, is powerless in the world… in love with a girl who doesn’t love him back, mired in a profession that inspires no respect and frozen in the grip of a terrible writer’s block. Until one day when everything changes. Lovecraft comes in contact with an ancient book that passes onto him an insidious curse: whenever he sleeps, his darkest nightmares come true and are loosed on the world. Suddenly, this shy and bumbling writer becomes both an unwitting god of destruction and the only man who can ﬁght the wickedness he unleashes. It’s a fantastical revision of the life and work of the beloved author, H.P. Lovecraft, and a story in the mold of the classic Universal horror movies. A weird tale indeed.
Looks like all of the art is completed for the series – are we looking at monthly issues?
Four issues over four consecutive months–guaranteed! The artwork is complete and it’s Tony Salmons at his most amazing. Over 160 total pages!
Can we all just acknowledge, for the record, that Tony is one of the greatest comic book artists alive. Period. In short, his work is f-ing awesome. Google some of his pin-ups–they’ll blow you away. So many great artists of today site him as an influence (Erik Larsen and Paul Pope, to name a couple, just ask them). The storytelling and images that come out of his head are nothing short of inspired and I can’t wait for everyone to see his crazy cool stuff. He designed all of the monsters and they are hideous (and a peek into Tony’s fevered mind). He also has a knack for breathing life into characters and scenes like no one else. He makes Lovecraft’s world feel absolutely real and that was crucially important to me given the element of biography involved. Tony’s a brilliant man and an incredible artist and I can’t impress upon your readers enough how talented he is. Sadly, he works so rarely. He deserves much more attention than he’s received to date. We got really lucky that he was willing and able to do it. I think everyone will agree, Tony was a perfect fit for the book and did an unbelievable job. Adam calls it Tony’s magnum opus.
Currently, the series is planned for four issues. Should sales permit, are there more tales in the works for this world?
Of course! We hope the reader response will be so great that we’re forced to unleash the second and third arcs that we have brewing in our skulls. There’s a larger arc planned that utilizes the first four issues as a kind of first act–it’s the set up. Which is not to say it’s an incomplete story. Absolutely not. These first four issues are a story unto themselves, but they also set in motion an entire universe, not unlike HPL’s own literary universe, that we hope to explore and build upon. We love this book and we want to see it go on and on.
So, what works of Lovecraft do you reference in the series?
Call me a full-blown geek, but comics that don’t explain themselves, that engage me thoughtfully, are the ones I always enjoy most (Moore, Gaiman, Morrison, Ellis, Dysart, et al.). In other words, mining the intent and referencing of a writer is half the fun of any reading experience, so I don’t want to give away too much of my thinking along those lines. But I can say this–first and foremost, the book is about a deeply complicated and conflicted man: a brilliant thinker, an innovative writer, a neurotic, an introvert, and a very, very lonely guy. Poor old Howard. Seventy-odd years after his death we’ve dragged him from the grave and plunked him down in the middle of a story that reads, on its surface, like a classic Men’s Adventure Magazine. Such an ignoble circumstance for such a cerebral fellow. He certainly deserves a more highbrow setting than that. Alas…. There. He. Is.
Is much of Lovecraft’s real life present in the story?
I’m on record with his fans regarding this; as much as I enjoy his writing, it’s his life story that really fires my imagination. He’s a dense and fascinating character with an unplumbable well of drama to tap. Tragedy, trial, and posthumous triumph: his story has it all, it’s nearly mythic. Will our Lovecraft be recognizable to those in the know? Probably. Are the details of his life slavishly adhered to? Not by a long shot. How about Easter eggs for the hardcore? Apply a keen eye. They’re in there. I’ve played fast and loose with Mr. Lovecraft’s biography in an effort to put a character on the page that any casual reader can enjoy. And I dare say if he were here today, he would have encouraged me to do exactly that.
There are quite a few touches nicked from the life of the real H.P. in our fictional hero. He’s a pulp writer desperate for legitimacy. He’s wildly intelligent and creative. He’s a teatotaller. He taps out his stories on a rebuilt 1906 Remington typewriter. And, alas, like the real Howard, our Howard is no ladies’ man. But there are plenty of significant differences. He pines for a woman he’s had a crush on since childhood. The twin spinster aunts he lives with are doting drunkards who finish one another’s sentences and can’t keep their noses out of his business. He sports his fedora with a touch of panache. He enjoys long strolls along the docks of Providence Harbor–the horror! And then there’s the tiny distinction that our Lovecraft’s subconscious horrors get unleashed each night on unsuspecting Providence (While I happen to believe this should be classified as a “difference,” many of his fans insist otherwise.).
What’s your favorite Lovecraft story?
Are you trying to get me in trouble? Indulge me in a moment of discretion — I love the invention and the imagination on display across the entire breadth of his work. I think after Poe, no one can claim as original a body of work. Now having said all of that, you asked for my favorite. It’s… what was the question again?
Why do you think it’s so hard to find a story that properly translates the world of Lovecraft, especially in cinema?
There is simply no excuse. I cling to the hope that it’s for a lack of determined effort. If ever there were a Lovecraft film desperate to be made, this would be the one! But a word of caution: unwatchable films have been adapted from classic literature and cinematic masterpieces have been plucked from shabby paperbacks (sorry, Mr. King). Perhaps, the right filmmaker hasn’t been paired with the material yet…?
Now, you’ve self published the first issue previously, selling them at Cons. Is this new material or is issue #1 of the series a reprint of the existing material?
It is not a new story. Think of the first issue available at the conventions as an exclusive opportunity to read an early draft. The first issue published by Image includes many dialogue revisions, some scene shifting, artwork adjustments, etc. For those interested in the process of creating an indie comic, there are some interesting differences to consider.
Love the trailer for the book on the official site – are there any plans to continue work on the site after the series has ended?
I think we’ll try to continue to update the website as reaction to the book calls for. If it’s a dud, we won’t do much. If it’s a hit, we’ll take it where the fans want it to go. We have lots of thoughts but as you guys know, it’s no small amount of work, managing a timely site. But, it’s absolutely our hope that it becomes as vibrant a part of the experience of THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF HP LOVECRAFT as reading the comic.
Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement in Frank Wyrd’s documentary, Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown?
Frank approached us at the San Diego Comic-Con. He saw some of the artwork we had on display and had to have some for his doc. And who can blame Frank? Tony’s stuff is awesome. By the way, so is Adam’s! His images were some of the first, and they’re home runs. Like Lovecraft and his table of writer friends, we love the idea of cross-pollination and being a present neighbor in the Lovecraft community. We encourage sharing.
Before we wrap up, I was wondering if the creative staff be attending any upcoming cons this year?
Probably not before San Diego. But we do hope to be there. We haven’t missed one in years. And finally, we have our official book to celebrate. We’ll have all four issues out at that point. We can hardly wait to see everyone who’ve been clamoring for the work and coaxing us along all these years. Thanks for all your support, guys!
Check out The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft April 8th from Image Comics!