BD: What initially intrigued you about working on the graphic novel, and have you likewise been a longtime fan of Lovecraft’s work?
PM: I read a collection of Lovecraft short stories when I was about 13, and I’ve been interested in his work ever since. On the surface, I love that overly ornate wordsmithing (like Ambrose Beirce. Or Lord Dunsany, whom I’d read even earlier), but the deeper themes of hopeless cosmic terror and the incompatibility of the human mind with inter-dimensional creatures – that all really stuck with me.
And another great love of mine is film noir, and the broader world of detective fiction in the pulp era, especially Hammett and Chandler. So, when the opportunity came to put these two genres together, I already had an idea of how well they could fit, and it was a dream project. A terrifying and bleak fever-dream, but a dream nonetheless.
BD: Did you have an idea in mind for the art style when you first read the script, or did the artwork develop as you worked on the project?
PM: We worked on the project together from its inception, so I had been doing sketches and character designs long before the script came in. So, I’d already decided that I wanted a lush, brushy, black-and-white look, with figures reminiscent of Alex Raymond or Al Williamson. Since I’d never done a black-and-white project of this scale, I thought that would also give me a chance to master that style at the same time.
I was also working on a theory I had that creepy horror art (at least, what creeped ME out) has a lot of texturing detail. Some artists like to do horror with a lot of black – the mystery of the unknown – but I find that it’s the squiggly details on the edge of the blackness that really creep me out. Also, the sense of unease you get from German Expressionist films where angles and shadows are never quite right – perspective is “off” somehow. That’s another component I wanted to explore.
So, by the time the actual script started to come in, with the wonderful opening sequence of the couple being chased through the alleys, I pretty much knew in theory where I was going, and it worked out better than I could have thought which, for an artist, is a rare thing.
It still took me about 20 pages to really get the hang of the style with regards to the characters, and you can see it progressing as I go. It was very satisfying to see the improvement in both quality and speed as I went.
You can read the rest of the interview at FanbasePress.com