Fungi Island

Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths, written by Alan Moore and Antony Johnston, illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, Bryan Talbot, Jacen Burrows, Hunt Emerson, Mike Wolfer, Oscar Zarate, Val Semeiks and others (collected 2009): 1/3 comic book, 2/3’s fictional and non-fictional prose, Yuggoth Cultures comes shambling out of Alan (Watchmen) Moore’s mind like one of those terrifying hybrids H.P. Lovecraft was always going on about.

Once upon a time, Moore was going to do a novel/short story cycle based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth* poetry cycle. Unfortunately, Moore left the bulk of his stories and notes in a taxi cab, never to be seen again. Years later, Avatar Press collected some of Moore’s never-reprinted comics work, some of it Lovecraftian, and rounded it out with adaptations of Moore prose pieces and songs by Antony Johnston; Johnston’s own comic-book miniseries Yuggoth Creatures; and several interviews with and articles by Moore. The result is an enjoyable, Lovecraftian hodgepodge.

The essays and interviews give an insight into Moore’s creative process in the 1980’s, while the more recent material at least sketches in his thoughts on the theory and practice of magic. Johnston’s contributions are fairly solid — he’s a good adaptor of Moore’s work, and his own miniseries suffers only from a need for greater length and depth. Lovecraftian pastiches generally don’t benefit from an overabundance of plot (and Lovecraft himself noted that horrific effect, in his work, had nothing to do with the mechanics of plotting).

The Lovecraftian material is quite enjoyable — one story, “Recognition”, seems like a dry run for Moore’s later neo-Lovecraftian horrors The Courtyard and Neonomicon, soon to be collected together by Avatar Press. As kooky as I find Moore’s transformation into a practicing wizard, he’s eloquent and fascinating on the topic of magic and mythology related to everyday human life (and scientific conceptions of the Fourth Dimension). Some fun Moore shorts from the early 1980’s also pop up here, as does a mostly autobiographical epilogue to Moore’s epic meditation on Jack the Ripper, From Hell.

I’d recommend this for Moore fans and fans of Lovecraftian Cthulhu material. There is some graphic sex and violence, so be warned.

* ‘Yuggoth’ was Lovecraft’s name for the (former) planet Pluto; the Fungi in question were the Mi-Go, the moth-like sources of the Abominable Snowman myth.

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