Writer: Florentino Flórez
Artists: Guillermo Sanna & Jacques Salomon
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Cover Artist: Gabriel Gomez
Release Date: September 6, 2023
Roused from slumber, Randolph Carter spies gleaming towers rising above his native Boston. Yet each time the boy tries to enter this fabulous realm, he awakens in his bedroom. Is this incredible city a mirage or somewhere he can visit? Let’s leap into the Lovecraft Unknown Kadath TP and find out!
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We next see Carter as a young man, fighting off the filthy Zoogs. When they realize he is the friend of Pickman and Kuranes, the creatures bring him to their council chamber. Carter wants to visit the land of Kadath. They tell him about a five-hundred-year-old priest who once scaled the mountains to see the gods dance. The Zoogs also warn him against searching for the city of his dreams: it’s the gods’ home, not his.
Undeterred, Carter treks to Ulthar, where ancient Atal mentions a face carved into Mount Ngranek. If he finds a race of people with similar features, they’ll tell him how to reach Kadath. “Beware the black galleys,” Atal adds, drunk on moon-wine. On the priest’s instructions, Carter travels to Dylath-Leen, where he drinks wine from a hollow ruby. He awakens aboard a black galley, where sailors eat food made from former slaves.
So begins Ablaze’s Lovecraft Unknown Kadath TP, an eight-issue trade paperback adapted from H.P. Lovecraft’s novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. It follows Randolph Carter’s journey across the dreamscape of the late author’s mind. It’s a world filled with Night-Gaunts, Moon-Beasts, and kaiju-sized Sentinels. Carter’s artist-friend Pickman is now a corpse-eating Ghoul, who urges Carter to not just travel through the dream but let it transform him. His friend Kuranes—a king who grew tired of his palaces and now lives in a house along the cliffs—pleads with Carter to remain with him. But then Kuranes becomes a queen and weeps when Carter leaves.
As Carter sails past moaning islands, braves narrow mountain trails, battles monstrous Gugs and Ghasts, and seeks a merchant who sells rare eggs, a black cat accompanies him. Yet the question remains: if he can enter the beautiful city, should he? Like many of us, Carter seeks perfection. Is he wrong to dream of Utopia? Or, as his friends Pickman and Kuranes suggest, should Carter seek perfection within?
Guillermo Sanna & Jacques Salomon’s art has a fluid, dreamlike quality in Lovecraft Unknown Kadath TP. Churning chaos takes on distinct and structured shapes. Taverns, temples, and towers evoke recognizable historic and fantasy landscapes. Some of the strange beings Carter meets resemble sea creatures. The Night-Gaunts evoke the flying bat-people who often took Human appearance in Marvel’s 1970s Conan comics. Perspective shifts as readily as Kuranes changes sex, and page layouts also change. While unprepossessing, Sanna and Salomon prove that artists don’t need splash pages and double-page spreads to invoke awe.
Wait! Did I mention the whimsical Children’s book-style interludes that conclude each chapter? Should I compare the first to Georges Méliès’ film A Trip To The Moon? (Or would that be a spoiler?)
Like their art, Sanna and Salomon’s coloring changes within panels to enhance Carter’s nightmare journey. They load their palette with bright, contrasting colors in Lovecraft Unknown Kadath TP. Pink, purple, orange, and teal are their friends! Their limited color approach resembles markers wielded by experienced hands. While its sources aren’t always apparent, light shines upon people and monsters in this dark Land Of Dreams.
Black, uppercase words inhabit white dialogue balloons. When the artists’ page compositions make reading order unclear, Saida Temofonte helps by changing balloon shapes and sizes. Aside from the chapter titles, Temofonte’s small lettering and print-handwriting font may stress tired, aging eyes. Thankfully, the font of Lovecraft’s novella, which Ablaze included with Florentino Flórez’s compelling adaptation, proves easier to read.
Ablaze’s Lovecraft Unknown Kadath TP invites similarities with the fantasy worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard as it takes readers on a mesmerizing journey through the haunting landscape of the subconscious.