Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #240: Young Lovecraft, Vol. 2 by Oliver & Torres

It's inevitable that any high-concept idea moves away from that concept if it becomes an ongoing work: what works for a one-off or to launch a concept is only one possibility, and the nature of ongoing storytelling is to investigate as many of the possibilities as is feasible.

So it's not a surprise that Young Lovecraft, a webcomic by the Spaniards Jose Oliver (script) and Bartolo Torres (art), has moved pretty far from its original concept in this second collection, the cleanly named Young Lovecraft, Vol. 2. Young Howard Lovecraft is still supposedly at the center of the story, but he's less obviously HPL here, and the goth/metal take on things is mixed higher than it was the first time around.

That's not a bad thing, since it continues the process by which Young Lovecraft becomes its own thing: the stories about this neurotic boy named Howard in what sometimes does seem like 1900ish, and about his "dog," the ghoul Glenn, and his gothy friend Siouxsie -- and, in a new style in this volume, a series of adaptations of classic ghost and horror stories (Stevenson, Hodgson, James) using that cast as part of a repertory company.

This time out, we also get a solo adventure of those dead French poets, Baudelaire and Rimbaud. And a quick appearance by Ambrose Bierce, happier and more positive than he ever was in life. We also get a somewhat misfired sequence with HPL as an exchange student in Norway, replaced at home by the very metal Ishan. (This is the height of the anachronisms in this volume, but more of a problem is that Oliver doesn't have much for Howard to do in Norway, and Ishan is similarly reduced to an anti-clerical, anarchist caricature.) Much better are sequences about a visit from a few Hounds of Tindalos -- friends of Glenn's naturally -- and a picnic, which we first see, very amusingly, from Howard's horrified, usually-sedentary point of view.

This book still only collects work from 2009, though the English edition was published in 2012. I'm not clear whether Young Lovecraft still continues -- though there is a third volume available in English. It's strongly individual work, with a quirky take on a horror legend and very expressive and individual cartooning. It will always be an odd idea, but webcomics are made for odd ideas, and this is a great version of a great odd idea.

(I reviewed the first collection as Day 118.)

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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