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Review for Waterstone's by Matt Leyshon

 

R'lyeh

AFTER ENOUGH postponements and printing problems to suggest ancient curses at work, John Coulthart's Lovecraft illustrations are finally collected together in book form. The Haunter of the Dark represents a 20 year career of creating Lovecraft inspired artwork, from the stark, cold geometry of Providence and Torenbürgen to the swirling madness that accompanies Alan Moore's evocations of The Great Old Ones.

The book begins with complete comic adaptations of 'The Haunter of the Dark' and 'The Call of Cthulhu'. Each tale is marked by the painstakingly precise pen and ink technique that later provoked controversy when Coulthart created a vicious dreamscape of corpses and fascism for David Britton's Lord Horror comics. Yet no matter how thick the blood runs from Coulthart's work, as Alan Moore states in his introduction, "...the horror shades into beauty."

The second part of the book consists of a kabala of The Great Old Ones accompanied by the occult evocations of comics' legend, Alan Moore. Moore's writing is as dense and layered as Coulthart's computer-generated portrayals, in which insects, sea creatures, body parts and mysterious symbols are collaged into dark, chaotic, yet fearfully symmetrical forms.

The final part of the The Haunter of the Dark is dedicated to Coulthart's work for infamous Manchester publishers, Savoy. Here we find degradation and violence taken to unimagined extremes. The images are visceral and shocking yet stylized and crafted to the point of magnificence.

The Haunter of the Dark is a staggering achievement that will make major players of both Coulthart and Oneiros in the field of horror literature. Although the subject matter may be challenging for the more delicate of taste, Coulthart's artistic talent is indisputable. Whilst I'd recommend putting The Haunter of the Dark on your list to Santa, I would suggest keeping an eye on it on Christmas Day if you have relatives on the loose. The last thing you need is a bored Granny or inquisitive young nephew picking it up for a browse.