alicemacher: Lisa Winklemeyer from the webcomic Penny and Aggie, c2004-2011 G. Lagacé, T Campbell (Default)
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"The Courtyard was my attempt to write a story within the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft that did not try to regurgitate Lovecraft's style. It was an attempt to write a Lovecraftian story that was set in what was then the near future rather than in a Lovecraftian Era. As such, I thought it was a very successful story and it has always been a little favorite of mine in terms of my horror output."
--Alan Moore, AvatarPress.com

16 pages of 48 (Two issues; 8 each of 24). Trigger warning for gore.



The Courtyard is the first work in Moore's alternate-Lovecraftian universe which includes Neonomicon (2010-2011), to which it became the prologue, and the currently in-progress Providence, to which it's a sequel. It began as a 1994 prose story published in The Starry Wisdom: A Tribute to H. P. Lovecraft (Ed. D.M. Mitchell, Creation Books). In 2003 Antony Johnston, in consultation with Moore, adapted it as a two-issue comic book, with veteran Avatar artist Jacen Burrows. It's available both in the original black and white (from which the following scans come) and in a later colourized version published both separately and together with Neonomicon.

Aldo Sax is an FBI agent whose physical appearance and bigotry mirror those of Lovecraft. He's on assignment in the Red Hook neighbourhood of Brooklyn, staying in a dingy rooming house next door to Germaine, a woman with schizophrenia. Sax is investigating three seemingly unconnected ritual murders within the U.S.







Applying his anomaly theory, Sax notes that the first murderer, a classical music fan, nevertheless owns one rock album by the noise band the Ulthar Cats. The second killer, a solitary bookworm and writer, doesn't like music; nevertheless, the Feds found among his possessions a ticket stub from Red Hook's Club Zothique. The third murderer, an alcoholic, was nonetheless upon his arrest concealing a baggie of the drug DMT-7 in his rectum. What do all these anomalies have to do with each other? Let's find out.





Sax heads for Club Zothique, having deduced that it's the common thread in the three cases.







Face points out Johnny Carcosa, a veiled man of indeterminate age. The Ulthar Cats, whose female lead singer goes by "Randolph Carter," take the stage.





While enduring the Cats' set, Sax recalls that all three murderers are known to speak, write or scat-sing a "gibberish" similar to that now coming out of Carter's mouth. Suspecting that Aklo may have been responsible for the frenzied state in which they committed their brutal crimes, he approaches Carcosa as a prospective customer.





At 3:00 A.M., Carcosa invites Sax up to his apartment, where the agent is disturbed to find an elderly, fish-faced woman: Johnny's mother, whom Carcosa ushers back inside in a mixture of English and that gibberish speech, which she also speaks. Johnny then offers a drug to Sax, who recognizes it as DMT-7, the "white powder" and protests that he wanted Aklo. Carcosa explains that you have to take the powder first in order for the Aklo to take effect.


Sax purchases three "hits" of Aklo and, at Carcosa's insistence, snorts some white powder. He's confident nothing bad will happen, as he's taken stronger drugs before.











Later, upon leaving Carcosa's place, Sax finds that he no longer experiences time in a linear fashion, but as future, past and present folding around each other. He also sees himself and his environment as mere unfolded reflections of their ultimate forms, a phenomenon he understands due to his sudden fluency in Aklo.


The scene abruptly shifts to his neighbour Germaine's apartment:





Sax (still portrayed in blood-drenched close-up) inwardly urges Germaine to observe the first cut of the "unfolding." His thoughts rapidly shift from English to pure Aklo as the story ends. The last word, appropriately, is fhtagn.


Date: 2015-10-04 12:57 am (UTC)
dcbanacek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dcbanacek
My main concern when work by or inspired by Lovecraft is rendered into a visual medium is that no matter how well it's done, it just won't be as... surreal (that works as well as any other word).

That being said, if someone DID actually manage to make their movie, comic, drawing, etc. as mindbendingly insane as the mythos is supposed to be... well, that wouldn't be so good either.

All that aside, this story does work to show how the process would work in making cultists.

Date: 2015-10-04 03:22 am (UTC)
baihu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] baihu
I don't know how to show it properly, but Bloodborne IMO, does a pretty interesting job of marrying Lovecraftian influence with Victorian gothic, plus their visceral brand of combat. Here's the story explained (30min) - The lore and history of the world though I get that you probably don't want to watch all that. I'll try to summarize.

They portray the idea that the 'dream' is another tangible dimension, like Lovecraft, with the city and you the player stuck in the Hunter's dream, perpetually fighting and killing. There is the history of the world where the people found something like an Elder God deep down, and used its blood as a cure-all and way to control the masses through the Blood ministration church; it's even more addictive than alcohol. Until the Plague of Beasts begins to happen and people begin to turn.

Then there's the thing about 'insight', both a stat and a way of thinking in the world. The player if they choose to increase that stat, they see the 'true' world. Things like dog-headed crows, or crow-headed dogs. Or giant creatures with a mass of eyes for heads clinging to the buildings of the city.

There's the whole underlying story of the Elder Gods' motives. Where they 'inevitably lose their child, and yearn for a surrogate'. They apparently cannot procreate among themselves, and try to use chosen women to impregnate and try to bring their children to term. Or alternatively, 'elevate' normal people by 'implanting eyes on their brains'. Most of the children do not survive, or turn out...wrong.

One child, Mergo, was the result of the formless Oedon impregnating one of the ancient queens. Mergo himself, you can hear him cry like a normal human baby, but he is invisible and you cannot see him. He also has some eldritch cloaked reaper-like creature as a 'wet nurse' as apparently his human mother could not feed him.

There's clearly a Cthulhu influence as seen in the boss Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos who is the most clear-cut example of Lovecraftian influence.

It's tough to explain why I think Bloodborne does a pretty good job of translating a bit of Lovecraftian lore, even though it's obviously a violent action game first and foremost. There's the whole vibe of the world that feels like a far more aggressive Innsmouth, and the feeling that you truly have no idea why you're stuck where you are and doing what you do.
Edited Date: 2015-10-04 03:27 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-10-04 10:21 am (UTC)
mrstatham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrstatham
Yeah, I'd agree that Bloodborne is basically an action-based Lovecraftian game, personally. Obviously they've very much put their own slant on it and really developed a huge amount of lore of their own, but the core stuff is clearly influence by Lovecraft, much moreso than something like Demon Souls or Dark Souls ever were, which are more dark fantasy. Outside of that, beyond the direct adaptations of Lovecraft's stuff, the only things that really come to mind is something like John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness, which is influenced by Lovecraft to the extent of something like Cthulhu appearing in flashes near the end, but.. Visually it's not even close to something like Bloodborne, which does a really good job with that unease and body horror and the like.

Date: 2015-10-04 10:15 pm (UTC)
lissa_quon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lissa_quon
Not sure if Zszislaw Bekinski was inspired by Lovecraft but for surrealistic - nightmare - body horror he does the trick.

Untitled (Faces)

Untitled (Night Creeper)

Untitled

Date: 2015-10-05 04:03 am (UTC)
bruinsfan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bruinsfan
I think P. Craig Russell is actually pretty much up to the task of depicting Cthulhu Mythos stories based on the Elric comics he drew a few decades ago.

Date: 2015-10-05 12:29 pm (UTC)
leoboiko: manga-style picture of a female-identified person with long hair, face not drawn, putting on a Japanese fox-spirit max (Default)
From: [personal profile] leoboiko
I've already said this here, but: I agree entirely, and I think the best way to render Lovecraft visually would be to take a hint from Madoka and draw them as abstract art in a different medium altogether. For example, if your comic is b&w line art, then the other beings/dimensions could be drawn as threatening blobs in bright oil colors mixed with magazine collages (or whatever).

Date: 2015-10-04 03:22 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
Moore's Mythos stories sit strangely with each other. This one reads like there's no Lovecraft in this world. Neonomicon has characters referencing him constantly. Providence straddles the line between those two possibilities in a way that's somewhat awkward, although it works.

That this one (in pages not shown) shows a more extreme alternate history than the (slightly) later Neonomicon always feels very strange to me, too.

I'd kind of like to see him explore the non-mythos side of the universe, so we can see the context in which Farrakhan Day, fax booths, New Dollars, and environmental domes exist in. (And if the Exit Gardens still exist...)

Date: 2015-10-04 05:49 am (UTC)
captainbellman: It Was A Boojum... (Default)
From: [personal profile] captainbellman
I'd imagine post-WW2 the Exit Gardens would be much less popular.

It gets a little more confusing when you consider the reading that Sax within Neonomicon - in the final scene, especially - is a proxy for Lovecraft himself; averse to sex, and everything he says is utterly impenetrable unless you speak the language, and if you speak the language it's too late for you, you're hooked.

They kind-of lampshade the lack of Lovecraft in this story in "Neonomicon", though, in that without Agent Merrill making the connection, nobody would have, because Lovecraftian stuff is just harmless pop-culture rather than a dangerous cult.

As to "Providence"...as I said in the comments to the last entry put up on s_d, I think the arc of the story is inevitably leading towards a young Lovecraft being found and given a copy of Black's book to read. Heck, his parents were in the latest issue, very fleetingly. (The same issue also provided context for the city domes - they're to protect against the radiation from The Colour Out Of Space.)
Edited Date: 2015-10-04 05:50 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-08-13 03:32 pm (UTC)
bruinsfan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bruinsfan
As to "Providence"...as I said in the comments to the last entry put up on s_d, I think the arc of the story is inevitably leading towards a young Lovecraft being found and given a copy of Black's book to read.

Well, looks like you were right on the money with your prediction.

Date: 2016-08-13 03:34 pm (UTC)
captainbellman: It Was A Boojum... (Default)
From: [personal profile] captainbellman
I thank you...the tell was all the way back in #1 when Prof. Alvarez compares Black to the other Herald reporter who went on a journey to find Dr. Livingstone.

Date: 2015-10-04 05:56 am (UTC)
laughing_tree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laughing_tree
Well, The Courtyard wasn't meant to be an alternate history when Moore wrote it, right? It took place in what was then the future. It's just that by the time Neonomicon came out, our calendar had caught up with the date given in The Courtyard. I've kind of assumed that's why the alternate history elements are so downplayed in the later works -- that it was never intended to be alternate history, but he's kind of stuck with that because of continuity.

Date: 2015-10-04 06:30 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
It was set in the future, but already by the time it came out (2003, one year before it was set), the comic was full of what could only exist in alternate realities (Clinton severely screwing something up in the middle east, leading to a holiday apparently named after Louis Farrakhan, fax machines being...well...used...). They would have been less anachronistic in the 1994 prose version (assuming it was still set in 2004), but even then the developments were well outside the usual sf realm of random speculation into near-impossibilities.

Date: 2015-10-04 06:42 am (UTC)
laughing_tree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laughing_tree
I was thinking of the original story's publication date of 1994, yes. That's when the 2004 setting was established. What events would have been near-impossibilities already by then?

Date: 2015-10-04 07:15 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
The same set - basically everything but Clinton screwing up badly. The fax booths in particular - that's just not a practical way to use faxes.

Date: 2015-10-04 10:43 am (UTC)
laughing_tree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laughing_tree
We'll have to disagree. I read the prose version of The Courtyard before any of the other stuff, and when I noticed those details my reaction wasn't "Ah, he's trying to show us that this world has an alternate history" but rather "Ah, at the time he wrote this, he was imagining a future where these changes come about." It never even occurred to me to treat is as alt. universe fiction until after Neonomicon came out.

Would public fax machines really have seemed that outrageous in 1994?

Date: 2015-10-04 11:03 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
Would public fax machines really have seemed that outrageous in 1994?

In the form of a phone booth? Yes. Not just outrageous, but utterly ridiculous.

Date: 2015-10-04 11:43 am (UTC)
laughing_tree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laughing_tree
Guess I just don't see it.

Date: 2015-10-04 11:09 pm (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
There's multiple significant problems.

1) The number of uses of a fax machine where a little cash-register tape (how it's portrayed here) would be a practical printout are rare. And going a bit astray of how it's portrayed here, keeping a pay-phone style fax stocked with properly sized paper would be ridiculously impractical.
2) Think about how badly maintained regular phone booths are. Now imagine one with even more parts that can fail or be vandalized. Now imagine that one might have papers with sensitive private information fed into them (most common uses of outgoing faxes, especially for people that don't own one, involve such), only for them to get stuck, and no way for the user to get them out, and not having an attendant on hand to get them unstuck right then and there.

Date: 2015-10-05 09:57 am (UTC)
laughing_tree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laughing_tree
Yeah, but all of those problems would be just as true if the world had an alternate history.

Date: 2015-10-04 10:00 am (UTC)
pyrrhocorax: It is XS! She is running! (XS)
From: [personal profile] pyrrhocorax
The Exit Gardens are some sort of public service suicide stations, yes?

Date: 2015-10-04 10:04 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Tedd from El Goonish Shive. Drawn by Dan Shive, coloured by Kamino Neko. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
Yeah. Sections of issue 1 of Providence were about the protagonist's boyfriend making his exit.

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