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Nightscapes 13: Peter A Worthy


Haunter of the Dark

THREE ADAPTATIONS of H.P. Lovecraft's work appear in this collection, although the last has so far sadly remained uncompleted, as it became a struggle for Coulthart to complete. From here he contributed to David Britton's notorious Lord Horror comics, and previously unseen drawings and paintings are presented here, plus selections from 'Hard Core Horror' 5 and 'Reverbstorm.' It must be noted that the artwork for Lord Horror is dramatically different to that of his HPL adaptations. Alongside the artwork and foreword by Coulthart, there is an introduction and set of evocations, 'The Great Old Ones', by Alan Moore.

The design of the book, also by Coulthart, is well done and the cover art is a real eye catching piece of work. All through the collection are arranged various paintings and illustrations making up what is simply a portfolio of Lovecraftian inspired art. Ah, but what a portfolio it is...

First up is the title adaptation, 'The Haunter of the Dark.' His interpretation of this tale is immaculate, although it does not quite carry the mood of the original. But this is no failing. Indeed, it sets up an atmosphere all its own – presenting Coulthart as a voice of his own and not just a later articulator of Lovecraft's work. The effort that has been put into this is obvious, as it is with all his material. Meticulous pen and ink detailing that would probably drive anyone less conscientious to abandon such a project before reaching the drawing board. I would say it is that last three pages here that I deem the best – the overcoming of Blake by the horror from the steeple is plainly speaking, fantastic.

Next is Coulthart's better-known visual elucidation of 'The Call of Cthulhu' that readers may remember from the Creation Books publication, The Starry Wisdom. While that collection was uneven at best, there is no such mismatched feel here. Despite having read this piece before, Coulthart's presentation of 'Cthulhu' is still my firm favourite of his handiwork. Distinct in the portrayal of the events in the story, it effectively carries the same atmosphere of growing suspense and slow revelation. His images of characters in the tale such as George Gammell Angell, Inspector Legrasse and, of course, Old Castro have become the faces I conjure up whenever I re-read 'The Call of Cthulhu.' And what of the big green High Priest of the Great Old Ones, the dead but dreaming Cthulhu itself? Well, all I will say is that Coulthart's rendering is one of the best I have ever seen.

Following these, we are treated to some glimpses of 'The Dunwich Horror,' a project that was started, but Coulthart ultimately aborted. It is a shame that this third in his planned Lovecraftian trilogy was never completed – his wilderness scenes and depiction of Wilbur Whateley are impressive.

'The Great Old Ones' is a kabbalah of some of the Lovecraft pantheon with associated evocations. I have always admired the work of Alan Moore, but I find these pieces more interesting as the source of inspiration for the accompanying pictures.

Lastly, we are presented with the selections from Lord Horror. I will leave the reader to judge these drawings on their own, but personally I would have preferred to see included here instead the illustrations that were done for Arthur Machen's 'The White People.'