Last week, I ran a piece about a new ReAnimator board game that was being Kickstarted. The game is based on the H.P. Lovecraft story that was adapted by Dynamite Entertainment. And I remembered that one of our Bleeding Cool alum, Jim Kuhoric, worked on that series, writing the zero issue. I reached out to Jim to ask him about seeing something he worked on being turned into a game and some about his love for Lovecraft.
DAN WICKLINE: How does it feel to see a series you worked one become the basis for a new table-top game?
JIM KUHORIC: It's incredible to return to the world of H.P. Lovecraft's ReAnimator. I originally was asked to introduce Herbert West to the Dynamite universe in Army of Darkness vs. ReAnimator way back in 2005. The idea just made sense as the Army of Darkness world is steeped in Lovecraftian lore. You'll find references to the Necronomicon in several places among Lovecraft's writings, including 'The Hound' from 1924. Though its incarnation certainly took on a life of its own in the Evil Dead films, the ideas and concepts for the ghastly grimoire came from one of the most influential horror authors of all time. It just felt right that Dynamite's first foray into collectible board games would capture the creeping horror of Herbert West's quintessential story.
DW: Lovecraft has many fans; what do you think it is about his work that draw so many people in?
JK: I have always loved H.P. Lovecraft's work for the glimpses into insanity that he delivers in so many tales. The concept that evil things are already among us or hiding just out of sight of our ability to conceive of them is really a terrifying premise. Think too about someone a hundred years ago envisioning these nightmare terrors and being able to create stories that not only still resonate but that have been the basis for modern feature films, video games, and of course, comics. H.P. Lovecraft is the original Clive Barker or Stephen King. His nightmares were translated into timeless tales that have created enduring terror among horror enthusiasts. And really…is there any higher praise in horror fiction than that?
DW: Re-Animator may be one of Lovecraft's most popular and adapted works. What is it about the story that makes it stand out from the rest of his work, and what drew you to it?
JK: Herbert West is a classic tragic figure. At his core, he is trying to do good work. The elimination of death is something that the world would hail as a universal good. But his single-minded drive and excusal of ethics in his pursuit of the goal lead him down a terrifying road that ends in tragedy. How do I explain Herbert West to new generations of fans? Think about Walter White from Breaking Bad. Walter was a good person — a teacher, a father, a guy who took all the crap that the world dumped on him. But when he got a taste of another life where he saw respect, results, money, it changed him. Right up to the end he claimed he did everything for his family. But the truth is — he did it for himself. That's Herbert West through and through. West was a good man, a scientist, a doctor, and an ambitious student. His initial concept was noble but as he saw results and faced ethical and professional roadblocks, he went to greater and more horrific lengths to achieve his purpose.
DW: Have you had a chance to check out the game that is being made? What do you think of the design and the proposed gameplay?
JK: Yes, I have! The guys at Lynnvander Studios have invited me in to be a part of the development process and it has been a blast. The original Alpha version of the game was a straight forward punch and play concept. As we were doing the first play testing, I felt that it needed to really incorporate the creeping horror and dread that Lovecraft so effectively conveys in his storytelling. I wanted to create this sense of claustrophobia and terror as West's creations started to come back to haunt him. We put our heads together and came up with the idea of creating the actual town of Arkham in 3D form as the play area. And now as failed experiments start to mount, the returned dead start to close in on you as the story commences. It is exactly the kind of horror game that Lovecraft fans will really enjoy.
DW: Is there any other Lovecraft story that you'd like to try your hand at adapting into comics?
JK: Man, where to start? There are so many phenomenal stories that would make great comics. 'The Colour Out of Space' is a tale that hasn't been over exposed in the medium and would be fun to work with. I also have a soft spot for 'The Whisper in Darkness', which is another account that dabbles in dark science fiction. There really aren't enough sci-fi horror comics out there and this could be one that fans could really sink their teeth into. Of course, there are the classics — 'At the Mountains of Madness', 'The Shadow of Innsmouth', and 'The Call of Cthulhu'. Those have all been done but they have such wonderfully powerful imagery that I think we could find ways to engage modern readers with novel directions. And I do have a soft spot for 'Dagon', as well. I'd love to be involved with any of those projects. Especially if the publisher understands what makes Lovecraft special and allows the creative team to really delve into the mythos and create something that pays homage to one of the true masters of horror fiction.
Check out the Kickstarter project here.