Script: Michael Watson
Art: Theresa Chiechi
Letterer: Lucas Gattoni
Michael Watson and Theresa Chiechi’s Ithaqa is a comic that creeps up on you. It takes its time building up its Lovecraftian tale of cults, cosmic horror, and time warps all while ticking the boxes that make this type of story recognizable for fans of Lovecraft. There have been key variations throughout, though. The historical setting is given special attention to capture the very idea of what the Roaring Twenties were and the human characters are more than just people on the verge of losing their minds, one scare away from screaming their lungs out as their hairs turn white.
In comes issue #4 of Ithaqa to defy Lovecraftian expectations even further. It boils down to something called The Church of Flickering Ascension, a place that requires a psychedelic trek through time and space to get to. It features colors not often attributed to the source material the comic’s built on and it’s impressive enough to set itself apart from the pack.
Ithaqa #4 sees its group of investigators, and a failed filmmaker, uncover more information about the cult behind the strange happenings at Ithaca, NY in the 1920s. The group is spread out through the story, each paired up with another to focus on a part of the larger puzzle. This issue is particularly focused on Harvey Bolton, the World War I soldier that’s trying to piece together the horrors he’s witnessed and how they’ve been able to alter his world view so completely.
Harvey embarks on a trip through the space-time continuum to search for answers. Here’s where the comic leaves a mark. This entry impresses in two fronts. First, Watson’s scripting flows with the kind of storytelling force and cadence characteristic of roleplaying games. By this I mean that the book reads as if you were listening to someone build characters and myths on the fly, as if you’re witnessing the creation of an entire universe as it happens.
This should come as no surprise knowing that the book is inspired by the Call of Cthulhu pen and paper game, but to see it unfold as such in the comics page is a treat. The world just unravels in a most natural way, and it becomes bigger and richer each page.
On the second front lies Chiechi’s art, a show of colors and distorted sights the likes of which alter the very narrative fabric of the comic. It’s a feast for the eyes that challenges readers to reconsider the rules of the story and to experiment with perceptions. The more psychedelic sequences here carry a sense of movement and dynamism that shines, and it opens the door for further visual innovation in the coming issues. You’ll want to take your time looking at these pages, and you’ll come back to them to experience these trippy sequences again and again.
As of the time of this writing, issues 4 and 5 of Ithaqa are on their way to getting funded on Kickstarter. Of note is the $500 or more pledge, which gets you or a loved one drawn into the comic. It’s not often one gets the chance to be involved in things of the eldritch horror kind. Turns out, some dreams can come true. Pledge $1000 instead and you’ll get a full color portrait of yourself or a loved one as an investigator or a cultist in the comic’s world.
The Ithaqa team will also be in attendance in this year’s IthaCon, a comic convention with a longstanding history of shows that will be taking place April 23-24, 2022 at Ithaca College (NY).
For a comic that contemplates dark magic and deep madness, Ithaqa’s future is very bright. Issue #4 proves that the best is certainly yet to come, and that the journey will be full of mysteries that will take readers to places Lovecraft himself never fully ventured into.