Between the Panels: Supernatural Realms By Lance Victor Eaton (July 2007)
Comics' exploration into the world of the supernatural began in the 1940s and carries on today, but this was terrain that the written world had discovered a long time before. So it's no surprise that some of the earlier written pieces would eventually be translated into comic art.
H. P. Lovecraft's dark tales of Cthulhu have captured generations of readers. Graphic Classics Volume 4: H. P. Lovecraft (edited by Tom Pomplun) presents old favorites in a new format. This second edition includes The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Dreams in the Witch-House, The Shadow of Time, The Cats of Ulthar, The Terrible Old Man, Sweet Ermengarde, and Herbert West: Reanimator. While the grayscale coloring of Shadow Over Innsmouth works for the story, it does not match the elements of darkness inhabited by the stark black and white of Dreams in the Witch-House. However, the art for both embodies Lovecraft's eerie, chilling work. Herbert West: Reanimator and The Cats of Ulthar feel more like stories with illustrations than comic art. While the pictures are visually stimulating, their lack of relevance to the storytelling detracts a bit from the volume as a whole. But in the end, this graphic novel makes a great addition. The cover art alone may be enough to convince some, with a large stark Cthulhu holding his rod in the murky depths of the ocean.
Stuart Moore's Para has elements of both science-fiction and supernatural fiction. Twenty years after a particle accelerator accident kills Sara's father, she is determined to return to the underground research facility to discover what happened to him. She disguises herself as an assistant to Dr. Andersen, a family friend who has been granted access to the secured underground facility. Once down there, Sara realizes that an accident did not cause her father's disappearance. She races to find out what took her father and whether she can get him back, but government agents accompanying her have quite a different agenda. While consistent and easily identifiable throughout the story, the artwork seems a bit too bright. Given the underground setting, the opportunity to utilize the dark to increase the tension seems to have been undervalued.
Now Morbid Curiosity: The Art of Mike Dubisch is not a graphic novel, nor does it contain any real storytelling. Instead, it is a collection of covers and pictures that Dubisch has drawn over the last twenty years. After the briefest of introductions by Dubisch himself, the book presents much of his popular work. Where appropriate, he includes titles and original publications, as well as different versions of the same sketch. His volume is included here for several reasons. Though wordless, much of his artwork tells a story in itself. Readers would not be hard pressed to develop their own plot just from a glance at one of his drawings. Also, his art reflects the influence of comic and popular speculative art over the last fifty years.
As humans, we are obsessed by what we cannot explain, and intrigued by things that cause our hearts to beat faster. Even as we learn more about our universe, we still yearn to ask ourselves what if? - and we relish the answers we come up with.
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