‘Lovecraft Country’: Is the HBO Series Based on a Comic Book?

Lovecraft Country is the latest sci-fi series to hit HBO. Set in the 1950s, the show tells the story of a Black man who uncovers ancestral ties while searching for his father in a dangerous segregated town. The series features monsters and other supernatural elements, which is why some viewers are wondering if Lovecraft Country is based on a comic book.

HBO's Lovecraft Country
L-R: Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett | Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ is based in literature

Lovecraft Country is actually based on a 2016 novel by Matt Ruff.  The book consists of eight interconnected stories that follow the journey of Korean War vet Atticus Turner as he encounters dark forces and his connection to them.

The HBO series was adapted from Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, which itself was inspired by the fictional world created by early 20th-century horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. However, by featuring Black characters as powerful antagonists at the center of his story, Ruff flipped Lovecraft’s racist literary tone and challenged his ideas of white supremacy.

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Author Matt Ruff is a fan of H.P. Lovecraft

In an interview with Rise Up Daily, Ruff explained his inspiration for writing Lovecraft Country. He said he wanted to create an X-Files type story, but feature Lovecraft’s sci-fi “Cthulu” world. 

“What’s fascinating about Lovecraft’s fiction is he had a very specific set of fears and dreads, but he also tapped into this more universal sense of fear of people who are different from us, who have no mercy for us,” said Ruff.  “So you can take a lot of his story ideas and plug in a black protagonist, and it actually still works. They’ve just got somewhat different people coming after them. The fear is more realistically grounded in the kinds of hate crimes that actually occur in the world.”

“If you’re white, you don’t generally have to worry about stopping in the wrong town overnight and getting killed by the populace,” he added. “If you’re black, you really do, even today. I wanted to take what worked in Lovecraft and do it with a black protagonist and wring some changes on that idea. The initial idea was more X-Files than Cthulhu, but once I realized that the book was about contrasting these paranormal horrors with the mundane horrors of racism, I needed a dramatic bridge between the two.”

Misha Green developed ‘Lovecraft Country’ for HBO

The HBO series was adapted and developed by showrunner Misha Green. In a Q & A for Warner Media, Green said she was “blown away” when she read Ruff’s book and knew she wanted to adapt it for TV.

“I thought, ‘I want to explore these characters and their journey,'” Green said. “I was also really into the idea of reclaiming the genre space for those who’ve typically been left out of it — I said, ‘I’m ready to make this into an epic television show.'”

She also noted that she only used the novel as a “jumping-off point” and that the series’ writers developed the story even further. “My strategy was to take all of its dope, cool stuff, and write new dope, cool stuff,” Green added. “The goal was to deepen the characters and the stories.”

New episodes of Lovecraft Country air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.