Welcome once again dear readers, to another Infernal Review. As Halloween approaches and horror starts to abound, it’s only natural that we turn to one of the classic writers of the genre, the matchless master of the monstrous and macabre, H.P. Lovecraft. But think for a moment, what if his stories weren’t just fiction? What if they were true? And, what if, because of them, H.P. Lovecraft disappeared? What would you do if you discovered…
Enter a tale of twisting plots, gruesome horrors, and eldritch secrets, where everything the young Lovecraft wrote is true, in some form or other. Nanine Mercy has been tasked with retrieving a rare book containing information of the darkest kind. Her search leads her to the home of H.P. Lovecraft himself (before he’d become famous) where she meets Win Battler , the other main protagonist of the tale, a struggling writer hailing from the town of Tough Luck, Oklahoma. Win has come to visit his pen pal, one Howard Philip Lovecraft, only to bump into Nan instead. When the two discover that Lovecraft is missing (title drop, take a drink), they find themselves becoming more entangled in events beyond either of their imaginations.
The art for this comic is a bit unusual, yet superbly appropriate for the story. Though it may take a little getting used to at first, the style is detailed and memorable, giving life to the comic’s world and the characters native to it. The coloring is fantastic. Entire pages are done in specific colors in order to elevate the mood, such as sunlit country scenes bathed in bright gold, moody nighttime alleys shaded in purple, or eerie haunts suffused with an unearthly green. The comic is awash with lush colors and striking frames meant to mesmerize the reader.
The astute reader might glean from the title that this comic is in some way a tribute to the great horror writer and indeed it is, though only the most avid Lovecraft fans would get all the references. Some of them aren’t even from Lovecraft himself, but instead from other writers and sources, showcasing the literary inspiration that the writer draws from for this comic. However, no deep knowledge of Lovecraft is necessary. The plot is never sacrificed for the sake of references and the comic manages to stand on its own. It is after all, an interpretation of Lovecraft and his works. The characters are distinct and each carries some depth and thought behind him or her. The plot may seem as convoluted as Yog-Sothoth, but it has been crafted to fit ahead of time as the creator has already planned the story out in six segments, or books. Despite this, readers should makes special notes of things as even little hints and plot points can become relevant later.
Nan is a strong-willed young woman, inquisitive, pragmatic, and of wry wit, yet somehow familiar with various forms of esoterica. Yet, even though Nan’s somewhat aware of the lore and history surrounding the occult, she takes everything she learns with a grain of salt, never letting anything sway her beliefs one way or another without due cause. Her awareness of the arcane and her drive to limit its spread are profoundly connected in ways that become more apparent as the story deepens and the shadows of her past come to light.
Win is a struggling writer hailing from the town of Tough Luck, Nebraska, who goes to visit his pen pal, one Howard Philip Lovecraft, only to discover him missing. Thus Win finds himself entangled in events beyond even his imagination, but though leaping into a fight isn’t always his first reaction, woe betide anyone who thinks he can’t hold his own in one. Despite the madness he’s faced with, Win is willing to accept the strange things that happen around him on the word of others and the evidence of his eyes. However, it’s only as he and his new friends delve deeper into the mystery of Lovecraft’s disappearance, that Win’s own importance in events begins to reveal itself.
There is also a tritagonist named Father Jackie, but he’s so wickedly enjoyable that I’ll just let him be a surprise for now.
With a well crafted pace, wonderful art, and loving respect to its sources, Lovecraft is Missing is a great web comic for lovers of horror or good stories alike. A word of warning though, it’s not always safe for work and certainly not for children. Otherwise, you’d be mad not to give it a read.
Lovecraft is Missing is written and illustrated by Larry Latham. A general history of the comic can be found here. The comic currently updates on Fridays and is well into its penultimate book.