Author Interview: Bruce Brown of Lovecraft for All Ages!

Today I am very happy to introduce an interview with Bruce Brown, creator of two graphic novels (so far) which chart the misadventures of young Howard Phillips Lovecraft and ‘explain’ how he became mixed up with the monsters of the Necronomicron. 

Howard Lovecraft & the Undersea Kingdom by Bruce Brown

The latest graphic novel by Bruce and co-written with Dwight L McPherson

Bruce lives in Springfield, Illinois and you can keep up with his latest work and news through Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. His co-author, Dwight L. MacPherson’s site can be found here.

The Haunted Eyeball’s recent review of the two graphic novels, ‘…Frozen’ and ‘…Undersea’ Kingdom are here.

Starting ut

Haunted Eyeball: Welcome to the Haunted Eyeball, Bruce. Tell us, which authors did you enjoy as you were growing up?

Bruce Brown: I had so little interest in reading as a child because it was a struggle for me. It was my mother who introduced me to comics in an effort to spur my interest in reading. So, when I was young, all the early comic writers of my childhood drew me into comics but more importantly the joys of reading.

What do you like most about the horror genre?

I love the unknown in horror. I am not a big fan of the scare with the gory payoff.  The horror genre taps into the depths of the mind that lets you fill in the blanks on what is the scary thing lurking in the shadows is; Lovecraft was the master of this.

Do you have a favourite horror film?

Lately I have been watching the old Dark Shadows television show. Granted, I know it’s not a film (but soon will be – HE), but it had stuck with me so, because it was so elegant and subtle in creating this eerie mood. The horror is just right out of your sight, but you feel it. So, at the moment, that is my favorite horror.

Do any graphic novels or comics influence you?

I would say that Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther. It was so unique and mesmerizing to me. I had never read anything like it and it showed me comics could tell stories in an incredibly unique way.

What’s your favourite H P Lovecraft story? (or top three!)

I would have to say “The Colour out of Space” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth”. They were the first Lovecraft stories I ever read and I was absolutely awed by Lovecraft’s work.

Lovecraft and the ‘Howard’ Graphic Novels

What inspired the creation of the ‘all ages’ novels?

Honestly, I have done other books that weren’t all ages, so I let the story I want to tell dictate whether it is all ages or not.

What part of H P Lovecraft’s work would be too dark to touch in these
graphic novels?

I think nothing is too dark if it is handled right. There are some extremely dark elements in the Frozen Kingdom but all of them are treated off panel.  There are things in the Frozen Kingdom I remember thinking about after the book was done and I was surprised how truly dark it was in certain parts.

Would you be interested in ever doing more adult versions of Mythos
stories?

I actually did co write an adult mythos story with my co-writer of the Undersea Kingdom, Dwight L MacPherson. I really enjoyed working on that story, but as far as Lovecraft mythos, I will probably only stick with my boys Howard and Spot.

The art is very lush, did you consciously go with a less ‘cartoony’ style, especially for the more epic scenes?

Absolutely! Both Renzo (Podesta) and Thomas (Boatwright) have such unique styles that they added to the eerie quality of the story. A cartoony style would have been totally wrong destroyed the mood of the whole story. Plus I wanted to mention the beautifully subtle interior cover art of Nicholas Brondo.

How did you decide what parts of Lovecraft’s real life to leave out, and why?

There are so many elements to Lovecraft’s work to play with. I wanted to blend real life things in Lovecraft’s life along with his work.   There are key elements to Lovecraft himself I wanted to include in these stories.

It is difficult to choose what elements of his work to use in the stories; just too many wonderful characters and stories to choose from.

Do you hope this will encourage kids to grow up and get into Lovecraft
and other horror stories?

Absolutely! I truly hope this will encourage younger readers to check
out Lovecraft’s work when they are older.

The Future

Can you hint at what lies in wait for young Howard and his faithful
friend Spot?  

The next installment, if sales allow for another, will really ramp things up for Howard and Spot. I think it is important to expand their universe in ways that also explain the real Lovecraft himself; of course done with a unique twist.

Name of the next instalment?

Well it will always be Howard Lovecraft & The……..Kingdom. But the words, Middle, Hidden, and Underground have been tossed around.

When are you expecting it to be released?

Hopefully it won’t be as long as a wait for the next book as there was for this one.

Any final message you’d like to give to the lovely readers of the Haunted Eyeball?

First, I wanted to thank the Eyeball for allowing me to talk about Howard and Spot and their adventures. Also, I wanted to ask its readers to please check out the Howard Lovecraft series! If you are a fan of Lovecraft or never heard of him, to give it a chance; you won’t be disappointed!

Many thanks for your time and best wishes Bruce!

Also of interest:

First look: You Know, For Squids

Innsmouth PressFuture Lovecraft

Real Ghostbusters:Call of Cathulhu

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Lovecraft Week! Review: ‘Howard Lovecraft and the…’

While H. P. Lovecraft’s stories are generally filed on the horrific side of the library, there’s no doubt that his writing is accessible to almost any age group. Unpleasant events in his stories generally happen behind a screen of cleverly structured sentences, spawning great unease in a timeless and highly atmospheric manner, and leaving enough to the imagination to scare the bejesus out of any reader. While most of his stories are not graphic in the modern horror sense, they are frequently about abominations squirming their way into humanity’s corner of the universe. This means that there are always lots of monsters in his work. And kids love monsters.

Bruce Brown takes advantage of this by creating two visually stunning graphic novels that follow the (we can only assume) fictional adventures of a young ‘Howard Lovecraft’. In ‘the Frozen Kingdom’, he innocently reads out forbidden passages from his asylum-bound father’s copy of the Necronomicon, promptly getting him flung into the ice-spelled lands of a Kingdom where the Elder Gods hold sway and deadly conspiracies abound. Howard must summon all his courage and daring to survive his journey there.

In the direct sequel, ‘Howard and the Undersea Kingdom’, (co-written this time with Dwight L. MacPherson), our young hero’s troubles only increase. Unpleasant beings from beyond are hunting him and his notorious book, and now his beloved mother is also in great danger. Luckily Howard’s knack for making strange alliances continues here too, introducing a fabulous policeman character who provides some much-needed heavy firepower. There’s also a cat which can more than hold its own against an oozing shoggoth or two, and plenty more insider references for old school fans to enjoy.

However, you don’t need to be a Lovecraft buff to get quickly drawn in by these stories. Although substantial liberties are taken with what’s known of H P Lovecraft’s life, this is a beautifully illustrated and often very funny introduction to the Cthulhu Mythos and its gruesome gallery of monsters. The dialogue is hilarious, and the increasingly terrifying situations are played with a tongue firmly in cheek, especially when Howard acquires his new best friend, ‘Spot’, who is an utterly charming and thoroughly unlikely side-kick. The powerful artwork also keeps the mood strange but wholly accessible.

In fact the illustrations, rendered in both novels by Renzo Podesta, are truly gorgeous. A lush approach to line and colour breathes sweeping life into the endless frozen wastelands and deep green undersea landscapes, as well as giving a vast scope to the towering eldritch abominations. The monsters look appropriately sinister, yet some are strangely appealing (Spot!). Happily there’s no skimping on the tentacles, or on the potential horror of the situations. This is adult horror gentled through a child’s eyes, playing on Howard’s joyful wonder and feeling more like a coming of age quest, or a decent 1980s teenage-orientated film with a very large budget. While there are somedark moments, there certainly aren’t any decapitated heads in here, but it doesn’t hide the bleak, shadowy nature of the dangerous dimensions where Howard winds up.

Bruce Brown’s graphic novels are a brilliant introduction to H P Lovecraft and certainly are suitable for ‘all ages’. You’ll laugh, you’ll groan, and you’ll cheer, and then quickly check the back of your sofa for shoggoths. A gorgeously presented collection, these two books really aren’t enough. Luckily, it seems likely that there’s another sequel on the way!

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Also related:

You Know, For Squids…

Lovecraft Week on the Haunted Eyeball:

Review: ‘Future Lovecraft’ anthology by Innsmouth Press

1980s cartoons & Lovecraft: The Real Ghosbusters ‘The Collect Call of Cathulhu’

Bite sized Lovecraft stories by James Pratt

Lovecraft Week themed week ends tomorrow, but horror and H P Lovecraft especially will always be a recurring subject here on the Haunted Eyeball!