H.P. Lovecraft and real person fiction: the pulp author as subcultural avatar

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter

Abstract

The last ten years have witnessed the influence of Lovecraft and his writing permeate the U.S. comic book industry to a previously unheard of level. From the Lovecraftian themes of Mike Mignola’s immensely popular Hellboy series, to the references that pepper Joe Hill’s Locke and Key (2008 – present), right up to the full-blown Cthulhu Mythos of comic maestro Alan Moore’s Neonomicon (2010) Lovecraft’s cultural cache in the field of horror comics has never been higher. The proposed chapter will examine a sub-sector of this contemporary spate of comic books and graphic novels: focusing on those examples that incorporate a version of H.P. Lovecraft in a quasi-biographical manner (a process traceable back to Robert Bloch’s 1936 short story “The Dark Demon”). In particular, I will analyse the often post modern appropriation of Lovecraft as a fictional character in titles based on or around his stories and explore why this form of pseudo-biographical narrative has become one of the defining modes of recent Lovecraftian graphic fiction. Centring on Mac Carter’s successful comic book mini-series The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft (2010), but referring to other examples such as Hans Rodionoff’s Lovecraft (2004) and Bruce Brown’s series of ‘children’s’ Howard Lovecraft volumes, the chapter will argue that such incarnations consciously utilise many of the coded practices of fan-fiction in order to meet an increasing desire amongst fans to re-assert Lovecraft’s sub-cultural capital in light of the growing mainstream (and academic) acceptance of the author and his writings. Furthermore, through close textual study I will analyse how these incarnations of Lovecraft prioritise the author’s outsider status; as pulp writer, as clinically insane, as a lonely child, in order to position him in opposition to the bourgeois familial, business and religious structures of the hegemonic mainstream.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Age of Lovecraft
EditorsCarl H Sederholm, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock
Place of PublicationMinneapolis
PublisherUniversity of Minnesota Press
Pages149-165
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780816699254
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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Keywords

  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • weird fiction
  • horror
  • literary theory
  • comics
  • graphic novels

Cite this

Simmons, D. (2016). H.P. Lovecraft and real person fiction: the pulp author as subcultural avatar. In C. H. Sederholm, & J. A. Weinstock (Eds.), The Age of Lovecraft (pp. 149-165). University of Minnesota Press. https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/the-age-of-lovecraft