Here at Big Comic Page, we’re all massive fans of both the art of Ben Templesmith and the writing of H.P. Lovecraft, so the idea of these two masters of horror together in the one book has got us pretty excited.
H.P. Lovecraft’s classic short story Dagon will be adapted and drawn as a lavish 48-page hardback by the New York Times best selling comic book artist who is Co-Creator of 30 Days Of Night with Steve Niles and Fell with Warren Ellis, as well as Creator of Wormwood: The Gentleman Corpse, The Squidder and Welcome To Hoxford. This story has preoccupied and haunted Ben since he first read it 20 plus years ago, a time before he’d published any of his own work or knew that he ever would.
Written by H.P. Lovecraft in July 1917, Dagon is one of the author’s earliest published works. The story is the last testament of a tortured, morphine-addicted man who plans to commit suicide over an incident that occurred early on in World War I when he was a merchant marine officer. It’s an amazingly powerful and visceral story whose concepts and creatures directly connect to Lovecraft’s later and far more famous Cthulhu Mythos works.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of H.P. Lovecraft. He has been a huge influence on so many writers and artists, including Ben Templesmith himself. Dagon was the first H.P. Lovecraft story that Ben ever read, and it has been his dream to be able to adapt Dagon in a graphic novel format, to be given a large amount of space to control pacing and truly convey the mood and depth within the tale while having complete design and production control of the book in creating a real experience.
We sat down with the artist to discuss all things Dagon and get the skinny on his new Kickstarter campaign.
[The interlocking FISHNCHIPS & LANDLUBBER incentive prints, side by side in all their glory]
Big Comic Page: How did you first discover Lovecraft?
Ben Templesmith: Not really sure. I know I’ve read Dagon years ago, and gradually got into a lot of things that I came to learn were influenced by Lovecraft from a young age really but couldn’t pinpoint an exact moment I really discovered all the original material though.
BCP: What is it about the Mythos that appeals to you?
BT: Well, he hints at the dark horrors, far older than humanity. We’re kind of idiot bit players discovering “real history”. Always had a love of horror. I’ve really been a child of all the other people who were influenced by him too though. Lovecraft has had a huge impact obviously, touching many.
BCP: What Lovecraft stories have resonated with you most??
BT: Without a doubt DAGON. But also At the Mountains of Madness, probably.
BCP: Are there any previous graphic interpretations of HPL that have particularly impressed you?
BT: Actually picked up Mark Rudolph’s DAGON a little while ago and, of course, Richard Corben has done some amazing adaptions.
BCP: Why did you choose DAGON for the book over some of the more obvious “hits” like Dunwich, Innsmouth or Call?
BT: DAGON is short and sweet. I love the retelling of his journey and how it ends and was always my favourite, I could easily see how I could translate it. Besides of which, it was written early in his career which means it’s public domain.
BCP: DAGON is one of HPL’s shorter stories but you’re turning it into a 48-page opus. How does it translate?
BT: Oh I get to play with pacing and let the thing “breath” both in timing and just plain art. American storytelling styles are often really quick and to the point, compared to the French or Japanese. You could well compact it and tell it all in 4 pages if it came to it, or 40, if you really want to get the mood, the foreboding and what not. I plan on making this something you linger on each page, if I can.
BCP: Tell us about the Kickstarter. It’s over target already? People are clearly excited by the idea. That must be gratifying?
BT: Yeah, I have an incredible audience base that allow me a degree of independence which is something I’ve worked hard to gain over the years and am truly a lucky bastard to have. I think I just picked the right project at the right time, being the 125th anniversary of Lovecraft’s birth and his work is really only getting more well known.
BCP: What special incentives do you have for contributors?
BT: Plenty of prints, several that link together actually, to make a bigger print. Plus original art, T-shirts, sketch editions and the usual stuff you can offer with a book. But really, Kickstarter is just such a great basic preorder system for the actual book. If people want a book, we’re going to give them a book! I just decided to increase the page count hugely, so we’re giving people even more of the damn thing. Lots of backmatter, extra art, process and other artists pinups. Not to mention a price that won’t be repeated.
BCP: What’s your thinking on taking the Kickstarter route instead of going through a comics publisher?
BT: Doing presales and getting crowd funded means a creator doesn’t have to approach an established publisher and say “please Mr publisher, will you publish this? But I need to live while I do it so can I have an advance or something?” To which the usual reply is ” sure buddy, but hand over a large portion of your rights to the IP and split the profit”.
Kickstarter and it’s ilk give creators a bit more bargaining power when it comes to further publishing. If we can fund ourselves to do the book, well, it’s far less risk for a mainline publisher to take so you don’t have to give them as much. Luckily we have a partnership deal with IDW, so if they want it, they can publish/republish anything from 44FLOOD. They get great content and we get a great secondary market. Because so many people still aren’t on kickstarter really, even if plenty are!
Besides, I really do like selling direct to people. It’s the same reason I like going to cons and getting that face to face feedback. It feels so much more real to me.
BCP: Can we expect any more Lovecraft adaptations from you in the future?
BT: I think I’ll concentrate on this one first! I have a whole bunch of other projects I’ve promised or want to do, I’ll have to get to them too later this year!
BCP: So, one last time. Why should folk kick in for DAGON?
BT: Because they might like a deluxe arty interpretation of a classic?
DAGON will be a limited run 8.5×12″ 48 page hardcover graphic novel. There will also be a slipcased “OBELISK” edition of Dagon that we think is going to be awesome! The Obelisk edition includes:
– an exclusive book cover
– an exclusive slipcase cover
– embossed, numbered, and signed bookplate
Make sure you check out the OFFICIAL KICKSTARTER PAGE for all the details, and get pledging!
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy