> Notes on Writing Weird Fiction
Weird fiction is, at its core, playing on our deep fear of the unknown. When Lovecraft’s characters encounter an impossibility, language is used to weave around the subject – leaving the thing itself indescribable. My project, a Lovecraft/Cyberpunk comic with accompanying transmedia components, relies on the visual. However, to represent something visually is to give the audience knowledge of the thing. A direct visual representation provides the subject with a solid, understandable form, thus diminishing its effect. My task is to reconcile this.
I’ve enlisted the help of Lovecraft himself with this task, in a sense. Through consultation of his essay, Notes on Writing Weird Fiction, I’ve identified the key
> The Power of the Visual
“My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature.”
– H. P. Lovecraft in T. Joshi 1995, ‘Notes on Writing Weird Fiction’
Here is my Lovecraft uses careful language to describe a feeling or atmosphere that is often based on something visual. I want to evoke this.
The Power of Visual Material: Persuasion, Emotion and Identification (Joffe, H 2008) describes disgust as one of the most powerful tools in a visual work’s arsenal for the strong reactions it evokes. This is also something I’ve noticed in my perusal of other Lovecraftian comics – disgusting imagery is used as a shortcut to building a fearful atmosphere.
If a stone is thrown into a pond, you understand what created the ripples. But if all you see are the ripples, you’re left wondering if it were a stone after all. Maybe a fish? Did it come from above the water or below the surface? Or was the water disturbed by a deep shudder in the earth below it?