After the unfathomable oddness of The Motherless Oven and the light, quirky charms of Aama Volumes 1 and 2, SelfMadeHero continue to outdo their specialized brand of out-of-this-world graphic novels with The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. Coincidentally (but more-so perhaps intentionally) this latest novel of theirs has a lot to do with not being in touch with the real world.
H. P. Lovecraft, that master of the surreal, lends a hand in the crafting of this graphic novel in that its based on an unpublished work of the author’s. Adapted by writer/illustrator I. N. J. Culbard (who’s also produced graphic novel adaptations of various Sherlock Holmes stories for SelfMadeHero), he lends Lovecraft’s work a visual easiness that’s digestible for a reader unfamiliar with Lovecraft, but its debatable whether such a style of artwork compliments the breathtaking peculiarity of the story or holds it back.
The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath concerns Randolph Carter. Before we kick off our review proper, Carter was a regular character in a handful of Lovecraft’s stories, Dream-Quest being just one of them. A helpful trait of this graphic novel adaptation however, is that the reader can enter this story without knowing who Lovecraft or Carter actually are, and can be taken as a self-contained read.
Randolph is continuously having dreams of a spellbinding city that he’s desperate to visit, and in his dreams sets out on a journey across fantastic worlds, meeting savage monsters, aged-priests and talking cats who both guide him towards his goal and fight against him in order to prevent Carter from ever, quite literally, reaching his dreams.
Such a story as Lovecraft’s fully exploits the graphic novel medium, taking advantage of the story’s playful relationship between how we live in our dream worlds, where nothing is as it seems and anything one imagines can be moulded into reality, albeit in the dream world. Culbard executes Lovecraft’s story with pace and excitement, his adaptation really does come across as though he’s a die-hard Lovecraft fan and knows exactly how to translate Lovecraft’s stories to a different medium.
The artwork is bold, brash and frantic, with a haunting attitude towards shadow and a conservative mix of colours that bring Carter’s quest to life. The artwork’s own simplicity lets the novel down at times, yet such simplicity brings a constant sense of immediacy, which drives the dream-quality of the plot home to near-maximum effect.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is a sumptuous and riveting read, and yet another fine addition to SelfMadeHero’s portfolio.
You can get your copy of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath from SelfMadeHero now! And once you’ve read id, why not let us know what you thought of it in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!