Monday, August 1, 2022

Marvel and HPL

A largely faithful adaptation of Lovecraft's "Pickman's Model" was found in the pages of issue #9 (January 1971) of Marvel's Tower of Shadows comic. Tower of Shadows was a horror anthology book that Marvel published between 1969 and 1971, after which it was revamped and its title changed to Creatures on the Loose! (which lasted until 1975). Each issue of the comic typically featured three or four stories, some original and some adapted from the works of other authors.

Roy Thomas of Conan the Barbarian fame adapted "Pickman's Model," with Tim Palmer (of Tomb of Dracula) providing the artwork. As I said, it's quite faithful to Lovecraft's original tale. The same characters are present (with the same names) and the plot proceeds more or less identically to the short story on which it's based. There are only two differences that I can detect.

The first difference is the least consequential. Rather than being set in the 1920s, it's set in the early 1970s – the present day of the comic. That has few, if any, repercussions for the story itself beyond esthetic ones. The second is the appearance of the creature that Pickman paints. You can see what it looks like on the cover illustration above. Lovecraft had described the creature as vaguely "canine" in appearance; the creature in the comic is nothing like that. Whether that matters greatly is a matter of taste, I suppose, though I personally prefer the traditional appearance of Pickman's model, particularly in light of Pickman's subequent reappearance in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

For those interested in such things, here are a couple of representative pages from the adaptation. 
As you can see, Pickman looks like he might have been modeled on Vincent Price (or perhaps Doctor Strange). Here's the concluding panel to the comic, in which the photograph of the model is shown:
I'm still not sure why Thomas and Palmer chose to depict the model in this fashion. It's certainly a memorable monster, but it's not a particularly Lovecraftian one. All in all, this is mostly a purist quibble about an otherwise close adaptation of a classic HPL tale. 

1 comment:

  1. Alan Moore's adaptation of the story in Providence is much more faithful, in terms of horror if not plot, but it's not for the faint-hearted!