– Providence, RI – In 1934, down and out and desperate weird fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft was commissioned by a major book publisher to create his own weird fiction version of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. Over-stuffed with cosmic horror and an anti-happily ever after ending, it was never published and the manuscript was lost. A limited comic book series adaptation of the recently discovered surviving notes is now underway.
Near the end, in dire economic straights in the mid-1930’s, pulp science fiction and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was approached by a prominent NY commercial book publisher Saul Mishkin with a proposition he couldn’t reject. He had read all of Lovecraft’s work as a guilty pleasure, and had developed the idea of him putting his inimitable style and talent to adapt one of the oldest and most popular fairy tales into a novel-length modern “weird tales” version. And “saucy”. One with appeal to adults, which the original version was written for, before it was rewritten for children. That fairy tale was Beauty and the Beast.
Though he was sickened by the prospect and resistant, the sum he was offered (in the depths of the Great Depression) was equal to what he’d made in his entire life writing for pulp magazines. So he wrote it in earnest before being paid, telling none of the wide circle of correspondents he kept, and mailed in his manuscript expecting the worst.
He got the worst. The publisher who adored his work had died while it was in the mail, and his wife took control of the company. She had it returned, complete with warning letters from both her lawyers and spiritualist advisors — who vowed to see to it that Lovecraft would be either jailed or committed to an institution for creating such madness. Lovecraft, very sensitive to criticism and one who seldom resubmitted rejected stories elsewhere, buried the manuscript and it is thought lost to the abyss. It was only recently that the notes for the lost work were rediscovered — and now this adaptation is being created as accurately as possible in comic book form. A crowd-funding campaign on the popular site Kickstarter is underway.
Horror comics creator Trevor Markwart was astonished when he learned of the lost manuscript. “I couldn’t believe it when a friend who was doing research in the university’s Lovecraft archives contacted me about a new box of Lovecraft letters and notes arrived. It was very exciting. Lovecraft seems to have kept relatively quiet about the project, as there are only hints of it in the amazing 100,000 letters he wrote in his lifetime.” Although there is a considerable interest in his work, Trevor believes that to try and recreate it as prose would be a mistake: “it would be folly to try and ape Lovecraft’s style. But I truly think it is ideally suited for the comics medium.” He is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/morbid/hp-lovecrafts-beauty-and-the-beast