Author Bruce Brown is gearing up to release a new graphic novel, Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, which will be published by Arcana Studios in January. Brown's project is illustrated by Renzo Podesta and tells the story of a six year old boy, Howard Lovecraft, who stumbles upon the legendary Necronomicon and is transported to a world inhabited by horrifying creatures.
Brown's novel has already received rave reviews. Cosmic Book News writes, "The book takes young readers along on a great, scary adventure, while it also rewards an older audience with Lovecraftian echoes that add depth and menace... and a few good laughs, too. The book's a winner – a real Halloween treat!"
Bruce Brown stopped by and agreed to tell us more about the book, himself, and his thoughts on the genre.
LNN: I understand you were introduced to Lovecraft while working on a previous script. You mentioned in another interview that you felt drawn back to Lovecraft. What specifically drew you back?
Brown: I wrote a short story about Lovecraft and placed him, in the story, at the moment when his father suffered a complete breakdown; granted, I added in my twists to that non-existent event. Yet, after it was done, I couldn’t stop thinking about Lovecraft as a character. More specifically, him as a child and what led him down that path to being the author of such strange and other worldly tales. In the end, I wanted to take that character past a short six page story and open him up to the world that Lovecraft created. It was the idea of a little Howard Lovecraft that drew me back to this.
LNN: What is your intended audience for this project, why so, and does your mother ever worry about you corrupting the world's youth with the ideas of an unrepentant (yet certainly gleeful) misanthropist?
Brown: Clearly, this book is a giant Easter Egg to fans of Lovecraft. However, I didn’t want to limit the story or its audience to solely that. I crafted it in a way that anyone could enjoy this book. So, someone who has never heard of H.P. Lovecraft could pick up this book and enjoy it and hopefully walk away with a little curiosity about this master of cosmic horror.
Hmmmm…corrupting the world’s youth and worrying my mother at the same time?! I never thought of it that way. Ha!
LNN: Tell us about the medium of the graphic novel: what sorts of things does it lend itself to in terms of Lovecraftian storytelling, what are its weaknesses, and how did you address each during the writing process?
Brown: That’s an excellent question! I would say that sequential storytelling of a Lovecraft story is inherently challenged. Lovecraft’s work tapped into those dark recesses of the human mind by leaving up the moment of horror for the reader to fill in. With sequential storytelling, an art form so rooted in what is visual, Lovecraft’s work, or style of storytelling, is clearly a challenge for this medium.
Unlike Lovecraft’s haunting tales, this was intended, from the start, to be an all ages’ twist on Lovecraft. I knew with this story, I could introduce the author and people from his real life, as well as, some of the amazing characters and creatures from his fictional work into one world. I saw that as more of the focus than trying to match Lovecraft’s unique style of tale. In the end, telling this Lovecraft story through sequential storytelling worked out perfectly because, through this medium, an artist can create the most fantastic otherworldly visuals.
LNN: I don't think it is a stretch to say that Lovecraft's fiction is neither designed for children nor is it particularly accessible to them, yet this has not stopped his themes and motifs from lately being exported to them en masse in the form of projects like yours, which repackages them for a younger audience. What continues to surprise me in almost every case is just how well this transition works out. What is it about Lovecraft's dark themes that allows them to be so successfully adapted at what are ostensibly polar opposite ends of the literary spectrum: heavy-handed adult "horror" and children's literature?
Brown: Up till The Frozen Kingdom, I have not heard of anyone trying to adapt Lovecraft to children’s literature. However, I believe it was an incredibly easy fit. Think about it, he crafts these tales of scary monsters that come from the seas, outer space or simply that dark shadow in the corner of the room. If you consider older fairy tales, it seemed to make perfect sense.
LNN: More specifically, how did you approach the line between depicting monstrosity in a fashion suitably authentic to the established conventions of the genre while not letting your project become off-putting for the younger demographic?
Brown: From the start I wanted an all ages’ book. I think people today confuse all ages to simply mean: for children only. Where truthfully, it is what is called; something that all ages could enjoy. So, there are elements in the book that children can enjoy and there are moments in the story that they won’t get but the adults who read it will. I would say that the one thing I didn’t want to do was talk down to younger readers. While there are elements for everyone, I do not coddle the younger reader, in fact I hope they are more challenged by it.
LNN: The existence of your novel is evidence of the recent surge in interest for Lovecraft and his work. What do you think this surge suggests about us as a culture on literary, social, or ideological levels? And is this good news or ill for humanity as a species?
Brown: I agree there has clearly been a recent surge of attention for Lovecraft and his work. Honestly, whatever the reason for it or its impact, I think it is a good thing. This attention is LONG overdue and Lovecraft deserves to be acknowledged for his masterful work!
As far as good news or ill for humanity as a species, I am not sure there either, but as a writer, I really love the sound of that question!
LNN: Am I correct in reading that the official release date from Arcana is March 29, 2010?
Brown: Actually, the release date of the book is January 6th 2010. That is the date it will hit comic shops for people who pre-ordered it and shops that took a chance themselves on it. Then the book will be available in March at major bookstores.
LNN: What projects are in the works post The Frozen Kingdom?
Brown: Well, I have several books in production, but my next book will be Jack & The Zombie Box. It is the story about a boy whose obsession with a “Scooby Doo” like television show reeks havoc throughout a household. It’s a fun book that is actually based on a true story. Besides that, I have several horror books in the works that I can hopefully talk about soon.
LNN: Anything else you would like to put on the record?
Brown: First and foremost, I would like to thank the Lovecraft News Network for giving me a moment to talk about this very unique book.
Also, I would say that if this book is of interest to you, that you should definitely pre-order it! With indie comics, if you don’t let your shop know that you want it, you are taking a big chance of the book not being there when it is released! Also, if you a friend who loves H.P. Lovecraft or simply enjoys a good fantasy tale filled with interesting characters and creatures, to give this book a try!
Further Reading about Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom
Order the book online at Amazon
The official forum at Arcana Studios
View artwork from the novel at Comic Book Resources
The official Myspace page
An interview with Comic Monsters.com