The Woman of Arkham Advertiser (A・Aの女): Article 01: In The Vault (2019) by Takata Yuki (高田 悠希)

It was the publicity attending this investigation which set reporters on the track of the Whateleys, and caused the Boston Globe and Arkham Advertiser to print flamboyant Sunday stories of young Wilbur’s precociousness, Old Whateley’s black magic, the shelves of strange books, the sealed second story of the ancient farmhouse, and the weirdness of the whole region and its hill noises.
—H. P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror”

The public knows of the Miskatonic Expedition through our frequent wireless reports to the Arkham Advertiser and Associated Press, and through the later articles of Pabodie and myself.
—H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

As was only natural under the circumstances, this piquant debating finally got into print in the form of letters to the Arkham Advertiser; some of which were copied in the press of those Vermont regions whence the flood-stories came.
—H. P. Lovecraft, “The Whisperer in Darkness”

Lovecraftian manga have been undergoing a recent renaissance in Japan, with the critically acclaimed reception of Tanabe Gou’s adaptations of At the Mountains of Madness, “The Hound,” “The Colour Out of Space,” and most recently “The Call of Cthulhu,” all of which have been or are being translated and published in foreign language editions: Spanish, Italian, French, German, English, etc. Other popular adaptations include the Cthulhu no Yobi Koe series by Chuuou Higashiguchi (中央東口), and related manga include the Minase Yomu and the Really Scary Cthulhu Mythology (水瀬陽夢と本当はこわいクトゥルフ神話) series by Yoshihara Masahiko (吉原雅彦), and the many Zone of Cthulhu manga released by the SAN-EI Corporation (三栄)—which includes The Woman of Arkham Advertiser (A・Aの女) series by Takata Yuki (高田 悠希).

The conceit of the series is simple: Alice Allan is a cub reporter for the Arkham Advertiser, the local newspaper that appears in several of Lovecraft’s stories, and her “cases” cover a number of Lovecraft’s stories, both Mythos and non-Mythos, as set around Arkham. The result is a series of adaptations with a twist: we get to see the stories from a new perspective, that of a young newspaperwoman investigating the odd happenings. The series is categorized as a seinen (青年漫画), aimed at young men (18-30s), being more realistic and less action-packed than manga like One Piece or Dragon Ball, but readers of all genders and ages can appreciate it.

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Chibi version of Billy, a supporting character.

The adaptation is played seriously, but with more than a few laughs thrown in, the figures sometimes reduced to small chibi-style exaggerated figures to emphasize the one-off joke, familiar from manga like Shirow Masamune’s original Ghost in the Shell. The translation by Amimaru Translation and Localization Services Ltd. is mostly solid, although every now and again a joke may fail to land due to some cultural crossing of wires.

The small details and stark contrasts in the illustrations really shine though. Takata Yuki has worked hard to express the America of the 1920s, full of newsboys and the transition from the small industrial city of Arkham to out-of-the-way rural community of Peck Valley is like traveling back in time. Done in simple black-and-white, the bright outside scenes are given white backgrounds, while the moment the intrepid reporters step into the vault, the page is dominated by huge splashes of stark black, a very effective presentation that accentuates the emotional response of Alice Allan and her associate Billy.

Alice herself is the major focus and driver of the plot. She desires to prove herself as a reporter, and this is her first real opportunity to do so, by looking into the morbid details around the mysterious death and quick burial. While her enthusiasm is sometimes played for laughs, especially when contrasted against her long-suffering friend Billy, it is very effective at cutting right to the heart of Lovecraft’s story.

The story is not exactly a straight adaptation; Takata Yuki wisely doesn’t attempt to mimic the style of Lovecraft’s prose, and takes a few liberties with the ending, hinting at this being a small piece of a bigger picture that the reporters know they can’t quite see yet. Which works very well; Alice Allan is an engaging, energetic, enthusiastic protagonist, and starting slow with one of Lovecraft’s more low-key stories as their first “case” was a wise decision on the part of Takata Yuki.

The Woman of the Arkham Advertiser is available in Japanese on Kindle, and in English on Manga Planet subscription service.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“Medusa’s Curse” (1995) by Sakura Mizuki (桜 水樹氏)

While many of H. P. Lovecraft’s tales have been adapted to the form of comics, and no few have been translated into other languages, it is comparatively rarer to see translations and adaptions of the revisions and ghostwriting stories into languages other than English. One of the very few such treatments is an adaptation of “Medusa’s Coil” (1939) by Zealia Bishop & H. P. Lovecraft entitled 「メデューサの呪い」(“Medusa’s Curse”) by 桜 水樹氏 (Sakura Mizuki), published in 妖神降臨―真ク・リトル・リトル神話コミック (1995), a collection of adaptations of comparatively lesser-known Mythos fiction by Robert Bloch, Henry Kuttner, and others. “Medusa’s Curse” is the final story in the volume, and begins with a preface:

The writers who during Lovecraft’s lifetime asked him to edit their stories are called ‘Lovecraft school’. Among this group the female author Z. Bishop left a most impressive work. Medusa’s Coil can be compared with Bishop’s other story “The Curse of Yig” which combines snake phobia and Native American folk tale. Due to its fine details, Medusa’s Coil is a special work that evokes mythological fear. Especially the outbreaking catastrophe at the story’s climax and the last unexpected twist take the reader into another dimension and leave him there.

Besides these two stories, Bishop also wrote the excellent story “The Mound” about the underground kingdom of K’n-yan and its cosmic terror. It is expected that this story will also be turned into a manga at one point.
—trans. Dr. Dierk Günther

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The adaptation removes the original Southern plantation setting, moving the story into a contemporary American South full of late 80s/early 90s styles. This transition also removes many of the objectionable elements from the original, as there are now no slaves (or people of color) in the story, no references to Africa, and the final revelations are focused much more on the cosmic horror of Marceline Bedard.

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“Marceline Bedard”

Sakura’s art style throughout is very subdued, realistic, with the slightly effeminate bishonen look to the younger male characters Denis and Marsh. It effectively communicates the quasi-love triangle set-up of the original story, the interplay between Denis, his friend Marsh, and Marceline as wife and nude model for the painting. For most of the story, the action is purely on that psychological level, no hint of the supernatural.

While there are liberties taken with truncating the story to fit in the space, overall this is a very faithful adaptation, with lines of dialogue borrowed directly from the story (sometimes in abbreviated form). The art tells more of the story than the dialogue, as a good graphic adaptation always does; little details like the ligature marks of the blood on the floor where the body was dragged, the shape of the handle and blade of the sword taken from a tulwar…and, of course, the painting itself, which attempts to express the inexpressible.

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Sound of heart beating
Shocked sound
Hissing sound of snake
Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh
Sound of gunshot

One of the things the story adds is a literal emphasis on the serpentine aspect of Marceline Bedard and her hair which is lacking in the original story. Lovecraft and Bishop used the term “Medusa” metaphorically, the hair as an alien thing, perhaps closer to the strange tentacles of C. L. Moore’s “Shambleau” (1934) than to the monster of Greek myth. This becomes more obvious after her death, when the story goes from a bloody lover’s triangle to overt supernatural horror.

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Sound of car door, fire, screeching tires.

Note here how the narrator is in a panic, and the framework of the panels reflects that. No longer are they square and even, now everything is skewed and at Dutch angles, reflecting action and movement that the reader doesn’t see, but which happens in the gutters. It is a very effective way to show the disordered, chaotic state of mind, and is used to great effect on these pages. The very regularity and normality of the opening of the story makes it all the more jarring when the horror finally appears on the page.

All reference to Marceline as being mixed-race is gone, Sophonisba’s speech is gone, and with them all explicit references to Cthulhu and the Mythos. The story is certainly simpler for it, both from a narrative perspective and visually, while sacrificing none of the inherent power of the story. The tension builds nicely until the first bloody climax, and then the real horror begins… The final revelation now is less Marceline’s identity than the fact that the house had supposedly burnt down five or six years previously. Ending it in that way makes it more of a ghost story, similar to some of the tales in Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904).

Translations and adaptations are tricky, especially when going back and forth between different media and languages. How much did Sakura deliberately jettison from the starting text, which was probably a Japanese translation rather than the original English? There are obvious efforts to remain faithful to the general events and specific wording of the story, even as it is updated to a contemporary setting (as are most of the other adaptations in the manga anthology), lines of dialogue from the English original come through in recognizable form when translated back into English, which can be a remarkable achievement in itself.

「メデューサの呪い」(“Medusa’s Curse”) by 桜 水樹氏 (Sakura Mizuki), published in 妖神降臨―真ク・リトル・リトル神話コミック (1995); I have not been able to find any reprints or translations.

With thanks and assistance to Dr. Dierk Günther of Tokushima University for assistance and translation of the Japanese original.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“The Elder Sister-like One, Vol. 1” (2016) by Pochi Iida (飯田ぽち。)

My days with her were everything to me.
—Pochi Iida ( ぽち小屋。), The Elder Sister-like One, Vol. 1

Ane Naru Mono / The Sister of the Woods with a Thousand Young / The Demon Who Became My Sister (姉なるもの), translated and published in the United States as The Elder Sister-like One is an ecchi manga written and drawn by female writer/artist Pochi Iida (ぽち小屋。), translated into English by Sheldon Drzka with lettering by Phil Christie. Th story follows the day-by-day life of Yuu, an adolescent orphan who inadvertently summons Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, and makes a pact with her…to become his big sister. The goddess takes a (mostly) human form and calls herself Chiyo, and strives to honor her obligation.

Adaptation and translation always carry with them layers of interpretation and reinterpretation, and the original syntax is often lost or re-envisioned, refitted to the appropriate cultural context. So Pochi’s take on the Cthulhu Mythos in this manga is definitely in the tradition of the supernatural/monstrous girlfriend trope of manga like Monster Musume (モンスター娘のいる日常) or Oh My Goddess! (ああっ女神さまっ), and the re-casting H. P. Lovecraft’s dark fertility goddess as a buxom young woman recalls works like the manga Fight! Iczer One (戦え!!イクサー1 ), the visual novel Demonbane (デモンベイン), and the light novel Nyaruko: Crawling With LoveHaiyore! Nyaruko-san (這いよれ! ニャル子さん) and their various incarnations as anime, manga, video games, etc.

What largely sets Pochi’s work apart from others is the bittersweet undercurrent that runs throughout the work. Told as a series of chapters (“First Night,” “Second Night,” etc.) the attitude of the first volume is one of discovery, as Chiyo adapts to the human world and strives to be a good big sister to the lonely Yuu, who is sometimes frightened by the glimpses of her inhumanity…and yet is so desperately happy to no longer be alone. Yet from the very start, we know that this happiness is to be somewhat fleeting. From the very first page, the reader is told that this co-occupation is only temporary. In the beginning, the seeds of the end are sown.

The bitter reminder is offset by the sweetness, however, and most of volume one is very light, and full of fanservice. Chiyo is buxom, and when she remembers to wear clothes tends to wear things that emphasize her breasts or curves, and Yuu is often faced with unexpectedly close circumstances (such as Chiyo hiding Yuu’s head under her skirt, giving him a point-blank view of her panties). Such fanservice is almost slapstick compared to the hints of a darker world which he story gives the reader as it progresses, but the balance and pacing are such that the themes blend together very satisfyingly. Readers will likely warm up to Chiyo and Yuu’s relationship as their attraction and understanding grows. All the more precious with the knowledge that summer must one day end.

It is worth mentioning that the story is published simultaneously in two separate “continuities.” The ecchi form above has plenty of exposed skin, but never any full frontal nudity or actual sexual contact—the attraction between Chiyo and Yuu is teased and developed along the lines of an eromanga where a teenaged boy might develop a crush on his kindly big sister. The hentai form released from the circle Pochi-Goya (ぽち小屋。) follows the same basic storyline but is sexually explicit, with Chiyo’s tentacles getting into all sorts of places and her relationship with Yuu being much more intimate (although censored in accordance with Japanese laws regarding depictions of genitalia, etc.) The dual release is a relatively mature approach to publishing: save the sex for the readers that are interested in it.

The actual Mythos elements are fairly light in the first volume. Chiyo is by and large the only blatant supernatural element, though at one point it is made clear that other monsters do exist in the world. There is no mention of the various tomes, Lovecraft country, other Mythos entities, etc. The question might be reasonably asked then: why use the Mythos at all?

The value may be that Lovecraft’s artificial mythology is explicitly inhuman, with only peripheral connections and parallels to traditional Buddhism, Shinto, and Christianity. If Chiyo was a succubus from a Judaeo-Christian Hell, or a traditional Japanese goddess or monster, the reader would have different expectations of behavior or interactions with humans, which would probably have to be explained away. Being Shub-Niggurath frees the character from those conceptual constraints or hurdles, allowing the emphasis is on personal development rather than world development, so that the story remains very focused on its two main characters.

Elder Sister-like One was first serialized in Dengeki G’s Comic in 2016, volume 1 and volume 2 have been translated and released in English in 2018 by Yen Press in both print and electronic format. Hentai volumes are released individually in Japanese by Pochi-Goya.


Bobby Derie is the author of Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014)