10 YEARS OF THE BF SIX TO WATCH! A Call to Cthulhu is described on its back cover as “part comic book, part art book, part unsuitable-for-toddlers storybook.” Creator Norm Konyu’s irreverent approach to the infamously problematic but hugely influential fantasy-horror writer’s output is clearly signalled from the outset by that cheekily knowing title.
In the middle of the night, within the confines of his remote mystical city of R’lyeh, the Elder God Cthulhu receives an unwanted call on his mobile phone by an irate human determined to make the supernatural entity aware of the full force of his ire. Having studied Cthulhu and his kin’s lore and history this individual’s life has been consumed by the stories he has read and now he wants to vent his rage at the demonic god. As his invective becomes ever more pronounced the reader is taken on a tour of the locales and characters featured in many of Lovecraft’s stories, including the eerie coastal town of Innsmouth, the horrors of the Antarctic Mountains of Madness, and the crawling chaos known as Nyarlathotep.
This niche rant is presented in the form of Dr. Seuss-like verse with its jibes at Cthulhu given a darkly comedic vibe as part of the process. That it often doesn’t scan particularly well only adds to the humour and the feeling of uncontrolled anger on the part of the source of its delivery. It’s a departure of sorts for Konyu from his recent comics work like The Junction and Downlands, and yet in other regards it also feels like a tonal continuation.
That may seem an odd conclusion but A Call to Cthulhu can also be appreciated on an entirely different level. Shorn of the comedic rhymes, each illustrative section is a perfect visual summation of the atmosphere of individual Lovecraftian stories; spotlighting the gothic majesty and preternatural forces that sit on the edge of reality, all perfectly realised by Konyu’s precise, angular and carefully composed tableaux.
This compact volume celebrates the influence of Lovecraft’s vision with wit and a certain creepy energy while being very clear about the disturbing elements of his legacy. It needs a certain working knowledge of the Lovecraftian mythos to be fully appreciated but for Konyu fans it’s another fine example of his signature visual storytelling style.
Norm Konyu (W/A) • Titan Comics, £9.99
Review by Andy Oliver