The last item under our metaphorical microscope for Kus! week is Mini Kus! #49, one of the more curious entries in a series that justly prides itself on curiosity and eclecticism, Martin Lacko’s MS Paint-rendered adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “purple prose” horror classic, The Call Of Cthulhu.
At first glance, this deliberately crude Cliffs Notes-on-crack truncation of a seminal text may seem irreverent in the extreme — Lovecraft and brevity don’t go together naturally, after all — but a closer examination reveals it to be anything but : by boiling the story down to its indivisible components, playing up its inherent absurdity, and completely neutering its forced “dark grandeur” before replacing it with a kind of (forgive the contradiction) light-hearted cynicism, it actually shows how endlessly inventive Lovecraft’s core ideas are under any circumstances.
Besides, for those of us interested in a dense and thoughtful consideration in comics form of what fans simply refer to as “The Mythos,” there’s always Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ Providence, which is probably the last — and best — word on the subject. As well as on all subjects within the subject. Lacko has neither the time nor the space for that, and instead performs a deconstruction-by-sledgehammer that goes about its business with such sheer glee that only love for the so-called “source material” can possibly be its animus. He simply wouldn’t bother to blunt every tool in Lovecraft’s box if he didn’t both understand and respect the power inherent in the work itself on a purely conceptual level.
No slap in the face is intended here, then, despite appearances, but it should be noted that those appearances are pretty goddamn — unconventional, to put it kindly. Illustrated both quickly and digitally, Lacko here communicates in a visual language every bit as unsophisticated as Lovecraft’s prose, with the key distinction being that he’s engaged in juvenalia by design, rather than arriving at it by sheer accident in an ill-considered attempt to achieve literary greatness. The best example of that is the Cthulhu monster itself — where Lovecraft spent pages and pages describing a creature that he openly stated was frankly indescribable, Lacko cranks out an image that looks straight from an early-1980s video game that the kids probably would have chuckled at even back then. Disarming? No doubt. But hardly a “piss-take,” more like a distillation of essential elements into something just as effective, if for entirely different reasons.
All of which means, of course, that this comic is one of those rarely-arrived-at-moments of successfully utilizing “dumb” means for “smart” — in fact, deliciously clever — aims. The point may be so buried beneath its attention-stealing method of delivery that it’s lost on some, particularly the depressingly literally-minded, but it’s undeniable just the same. I won’t hold it against you for needing it to be pointed out — but you know what? You’re plenty smart people (whoever you are), and I have full confidence that you’d have arrived at the same conclusion without me being here to conveniently point it out to you. I’m just, ya know, doing my job and all that.
And the final part of that job is to tell you to pick this comic up ASAP. Lacko’s not a talent I’m terribly familiar with, but in the space of just 28 pages, he proves beyond any shadow of a doubt (or over Innsmouth) that he’s one of the best deconstructionists and, crucially, reconstructionists working in the comics medium today.
The Call Of Cthulhu is available for $6 (worldwide shipping is free!) from the publisher at http://www.komikss.lv/
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