H. P. Lovecraft’s “Reanimator” Reanimated!
Along with the Sherlock Holmes projects mentioned in my last post, Caliber Comics is publishing a new edition of the Re-Animator anthology I edited in 1991. To help spread the news, I’m sharing a brief interview about this new edition that will be appearing soon in Caliber’s promotional e-magazine Caliber Rounds:
Steve: The suggestion actually came from Matthew T. Carpenter in a review he posted on Amazon for the second volume of Worlds of H. P. Lovecraft. It just sounded like a good idea to me, but I also can’t deny that I wanted another crack at the anthology to make it better this time.
Cal: Is it correct that the original anthology, which was published by Malibu Graphics, is the first mass market paperback dedicated to the West stories?
Steve: As far as I know it is. You can find the Herbert West series in lots of places today, but that wasn’t so in 1990. That’s one reason why I pitched the anthology to Malibu after Christopher Jones and I finished adapting the film Re-Animator for them, and it turned into my first publication to be available in major chain stores like Barnes & Noble.
Cal: You wore a lot of hats on that anthology. You edited it, designed the interior layout, and wrote the introduction.
Steve: I did have some editorial help from Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi, although I don’t know if he’ll want me to admit this, considering how the anthology turned out. After I edited the six stories in the Herbert West series, Joshi was kind enough to read through them and give me some comments and advice.
Cal: So what do you think is wrong with the original anthology?
Steve: Me. That’s what was wrong. It’s one of my earliest book designs and it shows. For example, the page layouts are too crowded. I can forgive that under the circumstances, but the introduction reads like a term paper, plus I didn’t know much about Lovecraft at the time, so it isn’t a very informative piece for anyone even mildly familiar with the West series or its author. I do have to say that the interior artwork by Mikael Oskarsson is outstanding, but Malibu gets the credit for hiring him.
Cal: So this new edition features a new introduction and layout?
Steve: Oh, yes. New and better. I promise!
Cal: What else does it have?
Steve: Thanks to Gary Reed, there are new interior illustrations plus a new cover, all by Terry Pavlet. I’ve been wanting to adapt the Herbert West series into a radio mini-series for a while, so I’m including my script for the first story, “From the Dark.” There is also an original Herbert West story that I wrote for this anthology, and, thanks to Joshi and the folks at the Lovecraft Estate, we are including Lovecraft’s landmark thesis Supernatural Horror in Literature.
Cal: How did you enjoy creating your own Herbert West story after editing Lovecraft’s stories and adapting the film Re-Animator?
Steve: It was different, but it was fun. I tried to stick to the same two thousand word count Lovecraft was limited to when he wrote his stories for Home Brew, but I went over a little bit. I also tried to emulate the over-the-top pulp flavor in the original stories, but I didn’t try to emulate Lovecraft’s florid style. Since my story features a totally different narrator, I didn’t see the point. My story was also influenced by Hammer Studio’s 1958 film The Revenge of Frankenstein, which I argue is the best installment in their Frankenstein series. I thought it would be neat to give West an assistant more in tune with his thinking, like Frankenstein gets with Hans Kleve. I also wanted to put my own spin on the movie’s ending, where Kleve transplants Frankenstein’s brain into a new body and then follows the doctor to London, where Frankenstein sets up a new practice as Dr. Franck. Hammer never developed this storyline further in any of its later Frankenstein films, which always disappointed me, so I relieved some of my frustration with this Herbert West story.