Hey guys, welcome to B’s Views and Reviews, the podcast that promotes faith-based, family-friendly comics and the creators that make them, brought to you by Geek Devotions, a show by devoted geeks devoted to letting you know that you are loved. I’m B, and today we’re participating in Chthuluary by discussing the kid-friendly graphic novel Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom.
I’m not a horror fan. My wife is very easily bothered by disfigured faces, I’m sensitive to occult imagery, and I just don’t care to give my kids nightmare fuel. I also recognize that these are personal preferences and not necessarily hard-fast rules. There are people out there who find the horror genre intriguing and even entertaining. And they, like everyone else, deserve to have content that is entertaining for them while still being family-friendly. So, while I personally would not get this for myself or my boys, I still believe that, for families who enjoy Lovecraftian horror, this is a good book.
Howard Lovecraft goes with his mother to visit his father in an insane asylum on Christmas Eve. While visiting, Howard’s father warns him of a book filled with forbidden knowledge and begs Howard to destroy the book. When Howard gets home and finds the book, like the obedient child he is, he chooses NOT to destroy the book and instead reads from it. The book teleports him to a kingdom in another world frozen over and filled with strange creatures. Howard makes both allies and enemies before returning back home, ready to go off on another adventure.
As I said, I’m not a horror fan. But if I were to get into horror, this would be the kind of horror I would be into. What makes the story “scary” is not disfigured faces or violent slasher killers or Gotcha moments. It’s the atmosphere the story creates. You don’t know you’re in a scene that is supposed to be scary until you’re right in the middle of it. You feel bothered by a sense of things–strange lights, eerie shadows, people talking in not quite right tones–more than an obvious threat–insane killer clown chasing you with a chainsaw. It is a very subtle horror that, in this case, left me feeling more intrigued than frightened. I got a similar feeling when I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It wasn’t the monster killing that made the movie scary. It was the representation of forbidden knowledge and what it could lead to that made it eerie. This book has a similar feel.
The two main characters are Howard and a tentacled creature named Spot. Howard has a mischievous streak that is reminiscent of Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory. He’s a little off, and if he had a truly dark heart, he could be trouble, but his good-natured will keeps getting in the way. He reads the book he’s not supposed to read, but given the chance, he chooses to help a kingdom he barely knows. Spot is also interesting in that, despite his seeming annoyance with Howard, you can tell there is a deep genuine care for him. The two bicker and argue through most of the book, but in a way that siblings would. “My kid brother is the most annoying person on the planet, but only I get to say that. If you say it, I’ll knock your teeth in.” That seems to be the relationship between Howard and Spot.
The artwork reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s animation. Everything was familiar and yet somehow…off. Buildings stood at weird angles. Body shapes weren’t exactly right. Skin tone was usually very pale, what little color used in the palette was either brown or red-orange for fire. Fans of Corpse Bride or The Nightmare Before Christmas will find a lot to appreciate in this.
One thing I really liked about this book was the watercolor look that the pages had. The texturing of the page made it seem organic, alive itself. It suggested an age to the page that fit the time period. There weren’t clean lines with perfect gradients and cool special effects. This didn’t have the photoshop perfection feel of most modern comics. It was an old, worn, paint set look that gave the impression the book was written in some dark basement or cellar somewhere, which fits perfectly with the mood of the story.
Is it family-friendly?
Again, this is not my particular area of interest. I don’t like to be scared. I don’t enjoy books
or movies that try to scare me. So this isn’t one that I would gravitate to. That being said, there was no nudity, no swearing, no blood. Any violence in the book was implied, never shown. Some of the faces could be considered scary, but in the same way that the Wicked Witch of the West was scary in Wizard of Oz. Unless your child is especially sensitive to not normal faces, I doubt that it would be the stuff of nightmares. If you or your child has a fascination with horror-type stuff, this is a book they could read and enjoy without you worrying about them needing counseling after reading it.
Where can I get it?
Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is written by Bruce Brown with art by Renzo Podesta and is published by Arcana Comics. You can get your copy at your local comic book store or at www.arcanacomics.com.
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