Categorized | Comics, Reviews

Cthulhu Week: Cthulhu Tales Comic Review

Posted on August 20, 2010 by Billzilla

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    The works of H.P. Lovecraft have inspired hundreds of other writers; in the 1970s, his stories became popular material for the growing underground comics movement, and that popularity, though it waxes and wanes, has yet to vanish completely. Currently enjoying an upsurge in interest, one of the latest offerings, Boom Studios’ Cthulhu Tales, brings brand new Lovecraft-inspired material to the graphic novel format. I was excited to see these when I attended C2E2 in Chicago, and purchased volume one of the series with great anticipation.

    All of the individual stories in this collection are short – the longest is only eight pages – most of the tales are this length. A few are six pages long, and one or two are even less. Several of the tales are standouts; “Quality Time,” “For You,” “The Pull of Insanity,” and “What Lies Beneath” all struck chords with me.

    “Quality Time, written by John Rogers with art by Andy Kuhn, tells the story of a suburban, middle-class family where the husband realizes needs to spend more time with his family. His wife begins to act strangely, and his son just got the lead part in the school play – a production of an obscure work called “The King In Yellow”…

    “For You” is about a newlywed couple, and the wife is having suspicions about her husband’s business dealings and secretive habits. Reminiscent of the better stories from Eerie or Creepy magazines of old, the story by Michael Alan Nelson with illustration by Andrew Ritchie has a delightfully terrifying twist at the end.

    “The Pull of Insanity” is a tale about a comic shop that is so sure customers will like a particular issue, they offer a no questions asked, money-back guarantee. The owner insists he’s never had to refund a customer’s money on that offer, but it turns out he’s something other than he seems… Written by Hans Rodionoff with drawing by Tim Hamilton, this is another yarn that reminded me of Creepy and Eerie comics form EC Publishing back in the 1970s.

    “What Lies Beneath,” Drawn by Dan Parsons and written by James Kuhoric, has two down-on-their luck sailors bemoaning the fact that their last fishing voyage caught nio fish and therefore paid them nothing. They see an apparently well-off ship captain looking to hire crew while in their favorite watering hole, and they sign on to work for this mysterious captain on his next voyage. Some job offers really are too good to be trusted…

    Cthulhu Tales #1 is filled with strong content. While I may not have loved every story in it, there were none that I didn’t like. The art styles vary wildly from one tale to the next, but not unpleasantly so. Several stories emphasize insanity, and are appropriately disturbing; several offer up a heaping serving of teen angst, which I could do without, and a few even rely on humor for their conclusion, which helped break things up satisfactorily. Most of all, I was impressed by the wide range of creativity that went into this collection. Many powerful images are illustrated here, and it must be suggested that this book is probably not appropriate for kids under twelve.

    Cthulhu Tales #1 is a winner; I highly recommend it for any devotee of Lovecraft-inspired stories. There is variety and strong storytelling aplenty here, along with varied and interesting artistic styles. At $15.99 MSRP for 130+ pages, it’s cheaper than two tickets to a movie and probably more entertaining. I’ve already purchased CT #2 and am looking forward to cracking the cover soon.

    4 out of 5 stars

    Review by Bill Bodden

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