By this point, we all know what to expect from artist/adaptor INJ Culbard (DC’s New Deadwardians, Deadbeats)’s HP Lovecraft adaptations for boutique graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero – fidelity to the story, word-for-word within reason, lurid colours and clean lines, and print that smells of migraine, which is a sign of quality if ever there was one.
First published in a 1936 edition of anthology magazine Astonishing Tales, The Shadow Out Of Time is one of Lovecraft’s best developed stories – offering up his feverish imagination, his love of traditional gothic horror storytelling, but without the absence of engaging narrative that plagued some of his shorts, where the idea briskly outpaced his means of delivery.
Following up his adaptations of At The Mountains Of Madness and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward for SelfMadeHero, Culbard has an intimate understanding of and sympathy with the way Lovecraft constructed his stories, bringing to the fore elements that weren’t given enough weight under the master of cosmic horror’s sometimes dense prose, and bringing a widescreen scale to some of the fantastic landscapes and alien citadels.
Spanning decades, The Shadow Out Of Time follows university professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee who awakes to discover the previous decade of his life he was host to some entity from earth’s distant past, while his own conciousness languished in the living library of this vast civilisation.
It’s a suitably epic tale for the existential terror it stirs, touching on some of Lovecraft’s core themes and neatly packaging them in one satisfying, conclusive narrative.
It was one of the troubled writer’s final pieces of work, and one of his best, and as such here – in the respectful hands of Culbard – it feels less like an adaptation and more like the restoration of a faded work of art.