Monday, November 23, 2015

I reject your reality and substitute my own

Frank Schildiner has shared an interesting essay over at that seeks to connect DARK SHADOWS to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. And this relationship is lot more complicated that you think.

Titled "The Great Old Ones and the Collins Family," Schildiner's piece not only attempts to connect the traditional vampires, witches and werewolves of DARK SHADOWS to Lovecraft's alien gods, but also takes numerous additional steps that connects both stories to the greater Wold Newton Family.

For the uninitiated, the Wold Newton Family is an intellectual exercise created by author Philip Jose Farmer in his fictional biographies "Tarzan Alive" and "Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life." The concept links hundreds of pulp novels, comic books, radio shows and other media into a single shared universe, using unintended "clues" provided in existing stories. For example, Margo Lane (the adventurer and companion of The Shadow) might very well be the sister of Lois Lane from the SUPERMAN comics.

Schildiner has taken the concept a step further, connecting the works of H.P. Lovecraft to the world of DARK SHADOWS in a framework that also tries to  explain the sometimes conflicting narrative within the gothic soap. DARK SHADOWS makes this an easy pitch: the series' controversial "Leviathans" storyline was inspired directly by Lovecraft's work, though in refrained from directly using any of the author's characters or situations.

Schildiner isn't content to underline these already obvious relationships, though, and has written a ridiculously elaborate narrative that relates Joseph Curwen (of Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward") to both Nicholas Blair AND Count Petofi, establishes a bloodline connecting Angelique directly to Laura Murdoch/The Phoenix, and suggests an absurd fate for Victoria Winters that involves Marvel Comics' SON OF SATAN.

For real.

Some of it is pretty smart; other elements (such as Angelique's "true" designs on Barnabas Collins) undermine everything we know about the characters in some really awful ways. Schildiner has a deep knowledge of DARK SHADOWS' many storylines, but some of his ideas suggest he doesn't fully understand them. Still, it's worth a read for hardcore fans of the series.

I both love and hate these kinds of experiments. Continuity is the lifeblood of storytelling, but geeks are pretty famous for not knowing when to quit. The Wold Newton Family sometimes feels to me like the fictional equivalent of paranoid schizophrenia. The words "plot" and "conspiracy" are interchangeable, after all, and Wold Newton seeks to make a conspiracy of the written word.

You can read Schildiner's entire essay HERE.

Via: The Official Philip José Farmer Web Page

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