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Fantasy Characters: The King in Yellow

Character  Hastur
Third up is the Eponymous King in Yellow from Robert Chamber's landmark collection of strange fiction. 

The King in Yellow has a weird trajectory of appropriation from other authors. Carcosa comes from Ambrose Bierce's An Inhabitant of Carcosa, in the same collection of short stories containing a figure named Hastur. Concepts from The King in Yellow were borrowed by H.P. Lovecraft, and The King in Yellow was later turned into an entity called Hastur by Lovecraft-collaborator, August Derleth. The posthumous collaboration between Cosmic Horror and Fantasy writers of the day is pretty fascinating, and from a copyright/intellectual property POV, refreshing in its own right. 

Coming up with a design for this was interesting- though the association with Lovecraft and Derleth's work is hard to distance one's self from, I tried to. There is no tangible description of the figure, so I mostly went off of the first-printing book cover that features a yellow robed figure with a strange crown. The heaping mass of tentacles are more or less the subconscious Lovecraft-influence. 
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I wish he would appear in more media.:)

manati20's avatar
tis1451's avatar
awesome artwork
RocketSurgery950's avatar

...I saw this picture in recommendations, and at first glance, I thought it was a banana king. Oops. Fantastic piece of work, here!

ThePsych0naut's avatar

I like what Terry Pratchet said, 'Pop fantasy is like a giant stew, the point is to add more than what you take out of the pot.' You can like an idea, and use it, but you need to make more than you take; that's what inspires future story tellers.

ThePsych0naut's avatar

Just read the original story, holy shit!

Libra1010's avatar

A most excellent incarnation of a fundamentally faceless Cosmic Horror - namesake of the unluckiest theatrical production this side of The Scottish Play!

TwinTails100's avatar
This is amazing! I love this book.
Clone-Artist's avatar
ecchigod's avatar

great design very eerie

LORDTyb's avatar
So what does the King in Yellow do ? Is it beyond good and evil ? Is it malevolent ? Does it drive men to madness ?
MurderousAutomaton's avatar
Brilliant design!  Such an imposing creature!  I'm ready to kneel and swear loyalty to him, but I get the feeling human followers are beneath him. :XD:
Ender-Toast's avatar
you can't have the yellow king without rival cosmic horror icon cthulu!
Proto-Lovecraft, nice.

Love that you added a crown, don't really see him much with one.
AngusMcTavish's avatar
Heartbreak City
The King in Yellow
The falling rain
They won't help to ease your pain

-- Alphaville, 2017
Malcadon's avatar

Nice! :D That is the most original take I had ever seen. Most would do a man robed in yellow, with that iconic mark, but this really captures its other-worldly weirdness.

I have an old Ral-Partha "King in Yellow" miniature in my collection., panted yellow for the sake of an old-school D&D setting called Carcosa. Sadly, it is one of my least impressive miniatures as it dwarfed to Hobbit-size by most of my newer, larger miniatures. (25mm used to be the standard back in the day, but "scale creep" raised that to 28mm or 32mm.)

Oh, and since we are talking about Robert William Chambers:

Along the shore the cloud waves break,

The twin suns sink behind the lake,

The shadows lengthen

In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,

And strange moons circle through the skies,

But stranger still is

Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,

Where flap the tatters of the King,

Must die unheard in

Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead,

Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed

Shall dry and die in

Lost Carcosa.

—"Cassilda's Song" in The King in Yellow Act 1, Scene 2

Culu-Bluebeaver's avatar
I have seen other pictures of the king in yellow in which he was wearing the yellow sign in form of a necklace, but I guess it's not needed if you would actually meet him "in person" (if you can even call it that) because then just seeing him would drive you crazy? 
Culu-Bluebeaver's avatar
heromomo's avatar



nice art tho

darkchapel666's avatar
I like how he looks like a piece of unwrapped corn.
A very delicious squid flavored corn to be more specific. 
CharlestheComicArtis's avatar

"What I offer is a life time of truths, all of which will weigh too heavy on heart and brain. The vast loneliness alone will sway you to my cloister, the truth will imprison you in service. To others you will be a slave but to yourself you will believe me devoted for my existence was mortal before now. It was hard, it was ruinously sorrowed and in the light of my truth you will dedicate yourself to me out of love. Not fear. That is My Truth."

DoctorFlare's avatar
Well that's a Dnd boss if I ever saw one. 
DirkLoechel's avatar
Camilla: "You, sir, should unmask."
Stranger: "Indeed?"
Cassilda: "Indeed it's time. We have all laid aside disguise but you."
Stranger: "I wear no mask."
Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) "No mask? No mask!"
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