Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Review: Pickman's Model by Kim Holm


Graphic novel adaptations of Lovecraft's stories have been ten-a-penny in the past few years and most of them have been excellent. There's always been a difficulty in adapting a story like Pickman's Model in the same way it's tricky to translate The Colour Out of Space artistically: they both contain indescribable horrors beyond human comprehension. Kim Holm has taken up the challenge and, for the most part, has succeeded in echoing the tale's dark and uneasy tone.

Pickman's Model is a story about the narrator, Mr Thurber, who meets a Bostonian artist, Richard Upton Pickman, who promises to show him the eerily realistic and disturbing paintings he's become infamous for in his area. However, the narrator gets more than he bargained for as Pickman shows him a painting that no other human has ever laid eyes on.

Holm is the artist and writer of this adaptation, which is no easy task. The story begins with the Thurber speaking to Eliot, a confidante that the reader takes the role of. For a good chunk of the beginning we're looking at Thurber reeling off his morbid tale, and while the text is good and the art is great, the stream of very similar panels starts to get tedious. However, once we get to the story proper we are treated some gorgeous black and white art in a sketchy, scratched style that perfectly matches the mood of the story.

There are three ways that Pickman's hideous paintings can be approached with graphic adaptations: try and mimic his realistic style (which will always be terrible), go super mind-bendingly abstract or don't show anything at all. Holm does the third method, showing Thurber's reactions to the paintings instead of the pictures themselves. This is a really effective way of adapting this particular tale, and Holm pulls it off really well.

Pickman's Model has always been a classic Lovecraft tale and considering the difficulty of creating a graphic novel from it, Holm has done a great job. While there are some narrative stumbling points, the artwork and mood makes this interpretation a winner for any horror fan.

*****
This graphic novel was supplied by the author for this review.