I remember the first time I saw Trainspotting. I was a bit to young and naive to really understand what was going on. No one I knew had ever done drugs, and with the exception of very few people I still don’t know anyone that has done anything as strong as heroin. All I remember about the first time that I watched Trainspotting is that everything was jarring and disorienting. The things that they would see, the feelings that the drug, or lack there of would illicit, though often played for laughs, seemed sinister and dark to me. They weren’t in control of themselves, the drug was. To me that is just as valid and frightening of a possession as The Exorcist. That lack of control is real life horror to me.
Golgotha has that disconcerting feel to it, because this book is all about a bunch of junkies. Aleister is an outsider artist, and a addict, and the start of this book finds him on his way to state mandated rehab. If he is able to complete the program he will be given a free pass on his prison sentence. Things are going just fine (if a little boring) when he discovers that the grave of his literary (and hometown) hero H. P. Lovecraft has been desecrated. He calls his friend Jude to see if there is any more to the story than what the newspaper is saying, only to find out that the vandals stole HPL’s skull. Aleister will not stand for it, and breaks out of rehab that night. So begins his adventure in finding a skull a midst a slew of junkies.
There is a whole crew of them too, his friend Jude, Brazilian guys that dress as Vampires, a gang of British punk rockers, a former love interest, his dealer/hang around buddies Shawgrim and Grimshaw, and Crazy Henry. The people in this book are solid characters, each with depth and personality, but in a crazy way they just fade in and out of the story like ghosts. When they arrive they serve a purpose, and when that purpose is over they move on. Some live through the ordeal, some don’t, because the hunt for Lovecraft’s skull turns out to be a little more contentious than Aleister thought.
Dark things that dwell in the shadows of Providence seem out to get them. People turn into creatures who want to consume and devour, huge creatures that can flip over a car. Alister even treks into the sewers and finds a coven of Deep Ones worshiping at the feet of Cthulhu’s idol. Even with such strange things happening seemingly to all of them; no one will buy that Aleister is seeing what he says he sees. Because all their thoughts are colored by the drug.
Deep Ones, monsters, magic powers bestowed by the skull, all of it may be in a world of imagination. All of these things might be hallucinations. We the readers never know. Writer Andrew Harrison leaves that up to you the reader. Is this a world populated by the characters of HPL’s stories, or is it just the ravings of a junkie trying to get clean and failing once again. So much of the interplay in this book is about the drugs, the relationships that it has ruined and created in ruins. The art then punctuates it with splattery edges and crazy looking people, from Karl Slominski. The best illustrated is Crazy Henry, a schizophrenic whose thoughts are literally spilling out of his head every time he speaks.
This is a really interesting, and in some ways haunting book (I actually had some pretty crazy dreams the night that I read this). The monstrous horror is mixed with the horrors of real life in a very creative way. This is Trainspotting done by Howard Phillips Lovecraft. This is the tale of the junkie through the eyes of gods that dwell deep with in the ocean or claw at the night sky to once again subjugate us. This is a deep dark rabbit hole of a book, HPL would be proud.
Next Time: Abe Sapien Dark and Terrible #1