Stefan Buchenberger

Panel 1B: Comics and Sequential Narrative/1
Session 1 – July 1, 11:00 – 13:00

Trying to describe the non-describable: H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu-Mythos und its adaptations in Alan Moore’s graphic novels

Although not considered a writer of particularly high literary quality, H.P. Lovecraft’s lasting legacy in popular horror fiction and Science-Fiction is undeniable. Especially the mythos of the ancient space god Cthulhu has influenced not only contemporary and current horror writers such as August Derleth or Stephen King, but even goes beyond its original textual boundaries inspiring adaptations in movies, music, art and graphic fiction. His name has even become an adjective, describing his particular brand of cosmic horror fiction as “Lovecraftian”

“H.P. Lovecraft’s influence on horror literature and media in the 20th and 21st centuries cannot be underestimated.” (S. T. Joshi) The graphic novels of British author Alan Moore are a prime example of one these adaptations of Lovecraft’s texts into another medium. Moore, the author of Watchmen (1986-1987), the probably most influential graphic novel ever, and other groundbreaking texts like V for Vendetta (1982-1989), or The Killing Joke (1988). With his graphic novels The Courtyard (2003), Neonomicon (2010) und Providence (2015-2017) – together with artist Jacen Burrows, published by the often-controversial Avatar press – Moore continues and expands Lovecraft’s visionary fictional universe. Not only does he spin further tales of the Lovecraft cosmos, by adding the additional dimension of graphic fiction Moore transports Lovecraft’s horrors, which are often hard to put in words, due to their completely alien nature, into the realm of pictures, making them visible. To illustrate how Lovecraftian horror is visualized by means of graphic storytelling is the goal of this paper.


Stefan Buchenberger is Professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies of the Kanagawa University in Yokohama/Japan. He earned his Ph.D. in Japanese studies from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich in 2004. He is involved in the study of graphic narratives at the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) where he is co-founder and co-chair of the Research Committee on Comics Studies and Graphic Narrative. He writes regularly on graphic fiction, on his second major field of study: mystery and detective fiction, and on popular culture and literature in general.