How IDW updated the classic Lovecraft tale with sickening results
HP Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” received a comic book adaptation from IDW that retains the terrifying appeal of the original classic tale.
HP Lovecraft is one of the most prolific sci-fi horror writers in all of world literature. His tales have abandoned the common tropes of goblins and disgruntled spirits in favor of terrors beyond the stars. Having written over 60 stories, Lovecraft has created the genre known as cosmic horror through its vast catalog of news and short stories. Many have been adapted and updated over the past century on almost any medium possible. In 2011, IDW Publishing released an updated version of “The Dunwich Horror,” a tale set in Lovecraft’s core story set, the Cthulu Mythos.
Written in 1928 and published in the magazine pulp Strange tales in 1929, “The Dunwich Horror” is found in the last quarter of all of Lovecraft’s works. While the first three-quarters of Lovecraft’s oeuvre consists primarily of short stories detailing a variety of supernatural fantasy stories, it is with The Quest for the Dream of Unknown Kadath written in 1927 (but not published until 1943) that Lovecraft switched to writing short stories. His later works combined elements of his previous short stories into a shared universal narrative, moving from abstract dreamscapes to contemporary locations located primarily in New England.
“The Dunwich Horror” takes place in the fictional town of Dunwich, Massachusetts. Isolated and for the most part decrepit, Dunwich is the perfect place for the Whately family to indulge in a series of horrific otherworldly rites. During the story, it is revealed that Wilbur Whately, an extremely deformed young man, and his grandfather summoned an extraplanetary entity into the world. Wilbur tries to steal a copy of the Necronomicon from the library at Miskatonic University. He is killed by a guard dog and the few men who witness the event swear to stop what the Whatelys have started. The beast escapes from the Whately domain and goes on a rampage, killing many innocent people. The men of Miskatonic University succeed in defeating the monster, who cries out for his father Yog-Sothoth with his last breath.
HP Lovecraft’s Dunwich Horror (by Joe R. Lansdale, Peter Bergting, Robert Weinberg and Menton3) tells a similar story, but modified. A group of young adults gather for a friend’s funeral. Coinciding with the death of their friend, a series of gruesome and violent attacks on local wildlife; cattle are found scattered throughout the countryside, many headless, others twisted beyond recognition. After the funeral, the group sits down and reflects together on their story, a story full of dark magic and forbidden rituals. Many years ago, after finding the notes of a local man named Wilbur Whately, the friends performed the rites in the notes and accidentally summoned the beast Yog-Sothoth. Now, years later, they consider it their responsibility to banish the creature that killed their friend. All but one of the party members are slain in their decisive battle against the Eldritch Beast, but in the end, Earth is saved as Yog-Sothoth is banished from where he came from.
The modern version of “The Dunwich Horror” works well: it ties in closely with the original tale while introducing enough new elements to give it a unique feel. Timothy Henry Armitage, for example, is the name of the Leader of Friends in the 2011 version, but was one of the doctors in the original story who defeated the beast. Our modern world may contain more powerful automobiles, guns, and even cell phones, but even these wonderful human inventions are not enough to stop the creatures from beyond the veil.
Lovecraft’s stories are timeless and universal as they focus on the mental courage of the average person in their battle against infinitely powerful powers. No matter who a person may be or where they come from, they are always only human, and it is with our frail makeup that we must oppose the forces that have come from far and wide through the stars. While our innate human limitations can be terrifying in many ways, it is the heights to which human perseverance and bravery can grow that shines light on Lovecraft’s tales of heavenly darkness.
Continue Reading: Lovecraft Country: 10 Cosmic Horror Games To Explore
Todd McFarlane reveals Gunslinger Spawn’s starting power meter number
About the Author