Like I said in my last post, I have a bizarre relationship with Lovecraft's work but I could read or view his adaptions with no problems whatsoever; heck, I enjoy most of his adapted works more than his actual work. It takes skill to take something from another medium and successfully adapt it into another medium. Not a lot of people can pull it off and if they do, it's almost always somewhat awkward and with story pains. Culbard is in one of those rare camps that can not only pull off an adaption, but do it without the story coming off as awkward and make it seem like it was always made for that medium it was being adapted; that medium being comics.
I'm a fan of Culbard and have read his previous Lovecraft adaptions, all a joy to read and The Shadow Out of Time keeps that feeling going. Though, I feel that Culbard is getting more and more confident with his skills and knowing what to take from the text, what push-aside and being able to present the story visually without it feeling degraded or horribly cut-up. Actually, The Shadow Out of Time might be his best Lovecraft adaption.
The Shadow Out of Time tells the story of Nathaniel Peaslee, a professor of economics, married with a child and all-around a happy guy. Everything is going well for him and than one day he passes out during on of his lectures and falls into an altered state. From there we read what happened during and after the altered state and what caused.
The Shadow Out of Time is an interesting story because the Lovecraft universe exploration and explanation, the cosmic dread and horror of what happened during the altered stated and how our protagonist gets his memories may seem like it's in the forefront and well it is. It's a big part of the story but it feels like it's a backdrop to an even bigger thing and that is the psychological and emotional exploration of what happens to a person during and after such a state. How a person can adapt and continue his life with the lack of knowledge (and then gaining) of what happened and how that changes the relationships he had. Lovecraft and Culbard successfully explore and show what happens to a person when dealing with such a horrific thing. Our protagonist can never fully continue after such an event and what he learns will haunt to till his grave; its so incredibly sad. Yeah, he gains some great knowledge--though he gains it without his consent--but at such a heavy cost. There's an atmosphere of incredible sadness and regret throughout the comic. Yet... Within the atmosphere of sadness and regret, there's also feeling of placidity within our character. There's a odd calmness that washes over you when you read this comic mixed with the sadness and regret, it's hard for me to explain but it's something most comics haven't made feel in a while.
That feeling is also helped by how great of an artist Culbard is. His linework is a treat for the eyes. He can set the mood with such few lines and express a multitude emotions through his characters. There were certain pages where I just had to stop and gaze at his art. The opening page is absolutely gorgeous and just fully realized. It's drawing of a desert, it's a little after dusk and there a millions of star in the sky. It just grabs you and doesn't let you go and makes you want to continue and to see more of Culbard's work. Also, did I say it's beautifully colored? No well... Culbard's coloring, just like his linework, adds another depth to the work. The colors are meticulously put together so they can to the story or characters to take away. To expound the brooding, at times horrific atmosphere or to wash a feeling of peace within the reader.
The Shadow Out of Time is an exquisite moving horror tale and character study about the consequences of other being invading a person. And how one can ever recover from such an ordeal and would they ever want to know why such a thing occurred? The Shadow Out of Time is a comic that will definitely haunt you days after reading it.