Thank you for sticking around to the end! (Note from February 6, 2012: I revised this page for the graphic novel after I first uploaded it, so this is a modified version.)
The Strange High House in the Mist is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories. I like its *feel* of certain places and spaces and textures and locations. Lovecraft’s stories make me think of the props closet of some vast theater, of a crumbling estate with overgrown gardens, of books of old botanical and zoological illustrations, old houses stuffed with bric-a-brac and ornate finery. I was inspired to read this story, back when I was really young, partially by some old drawings in the fanzine “HPL” edited by Meade and Penny Frierson, of which my dad owned a copy. The artwork, like Lovecraft’s writing, fascinated me with its intricate detail. Incidentally, although Kingsport was apparently inspired by Marblehead, and I used it for photoreference, I’ve never seen cliffs quite as Strange-High-House-like as the ones north of San Francisco in Marin County, particularly the green cliffsides above the Golden Gate Bridge. (There are some great cliffs on the highway south from San Francisco towards Santa Cruz, as well.) When I actually saw the Marblehead cliffs for the first time, I have to admit, they’re not that tall in real life.
At the risk of sapping the magic out of The Strange High House (and there is still a lot of ambiguity), the story is, I think, pretty obviously about Lovecraft’s marriage. We don’t learn much about Olney’s home life — such details would be unthinkable in a Lovecraft story — but it is one of those few Lovecraft stories (another is the IMHO inferior and emo “The Quest of Iranon”) which sets a boring, mundane ‘normal life’ against a poetic, artistic ‘extraordinary life’… reality vs. the dream. Like “Dream-Quest”, “The Strange High House” was written shortly after Lovecraft’s return to Providence from New York, his retreat from getting a job and being married and all those other markers of adulthood which he failed at. In “Iranon” the dreamer was a young starving bachelor; in “Strange High House” the dreamer is a burdened adult who manages to do what Lovecraft didn’t. Beneath all its cryptic elements, at its core “Strange High House” is “Iranon 2”, without the same level of beat-you-over-the-head moralizing. (It’s also interesting to note that Lovecraft’s vision of the dreamlike fantasy waiting inside the house, the end-of-the-rainbow mystery, bears a certain similarity to just hanging out with all his friends in some big nerd party in the sky.) Kenneth Hite, in his Tour De Lovecraft, points out that “Strange High House” is unique among Lovecraft’s tales in that it leaves a certain ambiguity as to whether the protagonist’s final fate is something good or bad, an ambiguity which I’m not sure if my adaptation captures. Personally, the ending reminds me very much of the ending of Lord Dunsany’s excellent The King of Elfland’s Daughter.
So that’s the end! But what’s next? Well, I have two more Lovecraft comics, for starters. One of them I am drawing at the moment. The other one I drew several years ago but I am sold out of the minicomics and it hasn’t been online since I drew it. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting that comic TWICE weekly, on Mondays and Wednesdays, starting next week!
So please stick around and come on back on Monday for the next in my Lovecraft trilogy… THE WHITE SHIP!
NEXT UPDATE: Monday, January 24!