So, you want your children to start learning early about the ultimate evil in the universe that is Cthulhu, but where to begin? H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu is great and all, but not really suited for a younger audience. Fortunately for us R. J. Ivankovic (A.K.A Richard John Ivankovic, A.K.A DrFaustusAU) is adapting the Lovecraft’s classic into a Seussically inspired children’s book, The Call of Cthulhu (For Beginning Readers). He’s almost done — just a few more pages to go — and through the wonder of the Internet you can watch it in progress as new pages are finished.
Click the cover image below, and start reading.
I had the chance to chat with the creator via email from his home in Melbourne, Australia.
CranfordTeague: What inspired you to take on Call of Cthulhu over other Lovecraft works?
Ivankovic: At the time, I had recently finished a two page comic called The Non-Fiction Engine, which was about a device I had in the basement that allowed me to reconstruct fictional worlds in a pocket dimension. In that story, I visited Charles M. Schultz’s Peanuts to make sure that Charlie Brown could, at least once, kick the football that Lucy Van Pelt had been pulling away at the last second for fifty years.
I have a fascination with, and affection for, the clean and safe landscapes that populate the picture books of our youth, and was trying to figure out where I (fictionally) wanted to go next. To this end, I was re-buying a lot of children’s books that I owned when I was a kid. I was getting really close to visiting the waterways of Scuffy the Tugboat, but I couldn’t figure out what I was going to do there. In the meantime, I had picked up a lot of Seuss’s stuff and realized how well his surreal artwork fit with Lovecraft’s cosmic horror, so one afternoon I drew the cover of The Call of Cthulhu (for beginning readers). As it was just a single image I went with the character synonymous with Lovecraft. I enjoyed it so much that I just kept going with page one, two, three…
CranfordTeague: How long did it end up taking you to create the pages?
Ivankovic: The original fifty pages took about two and a half months, completed at nights after work.
CranfordTeague: Why did you decide to redo some of the pages as double spread?
Ivankovic: I think it was around page ten when somebody posted something about what I was doing somewhere. The views came flooding in, and I was getting some excellent feedback. I realized that I owed it to those folks to really improve what I was doing, so I had it in my mind quite early on that some revisions would be necessary. Of course, as I went along I became more comfortable with Seuss’s style and could see where things hadn’t quite worked with what I was doing – the rhyme, the hatching, the font, the page layouts, and whatever else. It’s quite easy to lose sight of that Seussian quality once you’re fifty pages in. By the time I got to the end I knew I had a lot of revising to do, and one of the things I wanted to do was open up the space on the pages — to “un-cram” it, so to speak. That’s how I’ve ended up re-doing all the single pages into double page spreads.
CranfordTeague: I like your DC Comics illustrations. What else do you think you will be taking on?
Ivankovic: Thanks very much. I really enjoyed doing those – just doing the art is a lot easier than adding in the anapestic tetrameter, although I did initially come up with some for Harvey Dent:
No. Don’t try to convince me.
I know it’s not true.
It’s uncertain exactly just what you will do.
And the chances that you have an evil intent
are most certainly fifty percent, Harvey Dent!
The response to the Batman images has been really rewarding. After doing the iconic The Killing Joke cover, I’ve been thinking about re-doing other covers in a Seussian style. I’ve actually sketched out Detective Comics #27, but I’ve been preoccupied with the Cthulhu stuff for a while.
Some have suggested that I take on some of the other Lovecraft stories, and I imagine that there’s a good chance those will appear at some point.
CranfordTeague: You mention in DeviantArt that you are looking to get The Call of Cthulhu (For Beginning Readers) published. How’s that coming? Have you looked into doing an eBook?
Ivankovic: As I was working on the original fifty pages I was contacted by a number of different folks who wanted to publish The Call of Cthulhu (For Beginning Readers), including a prominent publisher of Lovecraft-related works, which was absolutely mind-blowing. I didn’t want to pursue it too quickly because I wasn’t done yet, and I wanted to make sure that if someone did intend publishing it they could see what they would be getting. Now that I’m much closer to the end I’ve been reconnecting with those folks, and I’m very much hopeful that a dead tree edition will see the light of day. If it doesn’t happen that way, I’m sure I’ll figure out some other way to make it available to everyone who has requested it.
As far as an e-book goes, I haven’t looked too closely at that. I kind of figured that the whole thing is available to folks online for nothing — but if people would like to get it onto their mobile devices, I’m not averse to the idea.
You can see more of Richard’s work — including some great Doctor Who posters — on DeviantArt.