When horror author HP Lovecraft shows up in a story, it's a sure sign that things are about to turn toward the sinister. In Lovecraft is Missing, the only thing scarier than a Lovecraft cameo is his sudden disappearance.
We mentioned Larry Latham's Lovecraft is Missing last year in our list of horror webcomics, but it warrants some individual attention. It's a pulpy romp through Lovecraft's tales, featuring none other than the father of cosmic horror himself.
One fine day in the city of Providence, famed writer Howard Lovecraft is having a chat with his aunt when he vanishes, seemingly into thin air. His disappearance brings together an unlikely crew: Orwin Butler, a young writer visiting Lovecraft from Oklahoma who has enjoyed some success with spooky stories; Nan Mercy, a Brown University librarian whose obsessive hatred of the occult stems from a traumatic childhood incident; and Father Jackie, a priest who has spent his career battling eldritch horrors. Each has their own reasons for seeking out Lovecraft and each, whether they know it or not, has some personal connection to his disappearance. Naturally, their investigations lead them to monsters, cultists, hideous artwork, and tentacle-mouthed statues.
For fans of Lovecraft's work, Lovecraft is Missing provides a gleeful scavenger hunt. Several characters from Lovecraft's tales make appearances in the comic – Thomas Malone, Arthur Jermyn, Richard Pickman, Dr. Munoz – and their relevant stories offer clues to their roles in the comic. Even elements of Lovecraft's biography – such as his legendary hatred of fish – come into play. There are also plenty of nods to Lovecraft's penchant for unveiling unspeakable evils in seemingly ordinary American towns. But Latham doesn't seem uncritical of Lovecraft's worldview; while some of the comic's minor characters express racist sentiments, many of the villains and patsies appear white and upper class. And in contrast to Lovecraft's misotheism, one of the few characters with a hope of holding back the forces of evil is a Catholic priest.
Even if you're not a particular fan of Lovecraft or the Cthulhu Mythos, Lovecraft is Missing is still a fun read. It's filled with wonderfully unsettling visuals, and there's a surprising amount of humor that complements, rather than detracts, from the horror. Nan Mercy is a great addition to the ranks of ass-kicking librarians, always quick with a sharp remark or a shot from her pistol. However, the comic may well send you rooting back through Lovecraft's catalogue to pick out all of Latham's references.