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Cthulhu is Still Calling

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 7:56 PM

Having been thinking a lot about the origins of our globally held Dragon mythos in a recent article Reptilicus Infernicus, I couldn’t help but notice the Cthulhu legend was always lurking at the edges of my mind as I was researching the subject matter.

The Enemy at the Gates, the “Other”, forever lurking in the darkness and plotting an invasion most evil and an enslavement most hideous, is probably the original seminal “narrative” that was born when humans first acquired self-awareness and began trying to explain themselves to each other as they sat around their fires built at the mouths of their caves.

These scary “cautionary tales” were not simply the superstitious nonsense of ignorant caveman minds. They served an important purpose. They taught clan members to stick close, to not wander to far from the firelight. Survival depended on creating a fear of the dark. The “invaders at the edge of our world” story has remained deeply imbedded in our human subconscious for the 10,000 years since we left the caves. In modern times, the invasion has become as paranoiac as the paranoid modern man, the invaders becoming “invisible” and walking amongst us:

Who is secretly a space alien in human form? Or a vampire or werewolf? Or a carrier of the spreading Zombie plague?

This month IDW Publishing buries the needle on the Mad Mash-Up Meter by unleashing Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics titles with storylines mining the Cthulhu Mythos, injecting what's sure to be heart-shocking dose of tentacle fueled intergalactic Lovecraftian menace into both these beloved series.

Science fiction and horror literature has long been the most fertile field for paranoid invasion narratives—and one master of all masters stands alone above all the others.

H.P. Lovecraft wrote some of

the greatest horror fiction ever created

during the 1920s and 1930s...

He published in the cheap pulp magazines of the era, including his mostly short story masterpieces that would come to be known collectively as The Cthulhu Mythos. I think the Cthulhu stories are so enduring not only because they are simply the best written and most terrifying of their genre, but because Lovecraft’s overarching narrative so perfectly fits the universal and eternal “lurking invader” paradigm. Cthulhu, one of the Old Ones—gods who once ruled the world but now mostly lie dormant in sunken cities beneath our oceans—is the ultimate invader: not from another land or even another planet, but an invader from beyond our universe.

Cthulhu himself has been a favorite of visual artists since his inception, described by H.P. Lovecraft as a sort of enormous intergalactic winged squid-headed deity. Most artists’ renderings of him remind me of the Hindu god, Ganesh—if Ganesh had an octopus head rather than an elephant head. It was a special talent of Lovecraft that he always managed in his writing to lend just enough but not too much detail in describing his shadowy lurkers—just enough to stoke the fires of his readers’ imaginations, making his creations, in their fertile minds, far more horrible than anything he could have rendered with more descriptive illumination.

ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Questions for the Reader

  1. If you have encountered Cthulhu in your literary wanderings, would you agree he is the Elder God supreme monster of all horror lit (and H.P. Lovecraft the supreme horror writer), or are there others you would propose for these Grand Champion of Horror?
  2. What is it about the god Cthulhu that you think has made him such an enduring subject for artists? Is it merely the aesthetics, the many possibilities, of his simply-limned description by Lovecraft? Or is it the shudder-inducing fearfulness of the stories that are evoked by seeing any depiction of the fiend?
  3. A cult of Cthulhu “believers” has been born since Lovecraft first created the stories in the 1930s—fans who claim to have become actual acolytes in a very real dark religion. Do you think this sort of thing is all in good fun?  Or can it be dangerous? What if the “belief” is in a “good” force rather than an evil one—like the 70,000 Australians who wrote in “Jedi” as their religion on the 2001 national census?
  4. What scares you the most?

    • The Great Lord Cthulhu
    • Vampires
    • Ghosts
    • Possession
    • Zombies
    • Aliens
    • A Jedi - Cthulhu War
    • Having to spell Cthulhu on command with your life hanging in the balance
    • Voldemort casting Imperio on Fluttershy
    • Commitment

Add a Comment:
Xendigger-the-real Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2014
Hail Cthulhu!
muteor Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
human-groveback Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014  Professional General Artist
  1. I agree that Cthulhu & Lovecraft are supreme.
  2. All of the above
  3. No Comment. 1 of my friends is in this, & she's never done anything dangerous because of it.
  4. All of the above scare me quite a bit & equally except aliens (I dated a few), Voldemort casting Imperio on Fluttershy (Voldemort is already dead for good, & assuming the ponyverse has a real Harry Potter, Voldemort never knew about Fluttershy, & he was permanently dead for quite some time by the time she found out about him), & commitment.
karizar Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Lovecraft forever. 
stratospear Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
"Having to spell Cthulhu on command with your life hanging in the balance."

Yeah, I'd damn well be fearing for my life if that comes my way...
NINJALLEN Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2014
jedi cthulhu war would be awesome
Xena110 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014
Hahaha but seriously why would I be scared of Cthulhu? HE SO CUTE!!!!! Broken Fighting Dome (Kawaii Please) Hi! Devilish 
JoynerStudio Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Wow.  I can't believe I just noticed this.  Thank you for featuring my Key of Cthulhu, deviantART!
techgnotic Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2013
of course, it's incredible work!

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us today and the tour. It was incredibly inspiring! 

Looking forward to publishing this article.
JoynerStudio Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Same here, and it was wonderful having you guys visit!
pigsinzen Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2012
My god these are amazing. Love the Mythos ... love these art pieces. Awesome work!
Ritiakaramne Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2012
Hm, i still wonder if dragon myths didn't come from a time, when the predecessors of men, tiny furry dragons themselves, were still hunted by dinosaurs... seeing big jaws closing in upon you is a horror too aced into mammal nightmares, how else could a bonobo sign to her ward on the question: what do you fear? "Crocodile" - and this without having seen any, recently?
Seothen Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Anyone read Alan Moore's recent Neonomicon? Points quite interestingly to the racism and obvious sexual hang-ups Lovecraft himself had.

Also, there are several typos in this note by techngnotic.
MorGothDoom Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012   Traditional Artist
IA!!! IA!!! Cthulhu phtagn. IA!!! IA!!! Cthulhu phtagn. IA!!! IA!!! Cthulhu phtagn!!!
ChosenDefect Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
:heart: Looking forward to helping brand more minds with a hint of paranoia, and the overwhelming urge to scream out into the darkness that consumes us all. :D
Ritiakaramne Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2012
Or is it changing your own nature into what you fear and make the darkness your only true home?
Blacksand459 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Lovecraft was quite skilled..."The Dunwich Horror" is a great tale of his.
But I think that overall...some of the situations a reader imagines himself in can be no scarier than those that Stephen King creates. Perhaps its because King tempers the outrageous with just enough make a horror scene truly terrifying.

Great article though. Thanks!
WOLFBEN Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
Lucu-lucu... XD
Master-of-the-Boot Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'll be Frank, I didn't think that Lovecraft was a very good writer. Half the time I was rolling my eyes and waiting to be scared.

What really got me into the Cthulhu mythos were other authors who picked up the work after HP died. Brian Lumley is an amazing Mythos writer, just to name one.
Daltimus-Prime Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012  Student General Artist
Finally got around to reading this. It's amazing.
1. Cthulhu, definitely.
2. Definitely the lack of description. When all you're given is a few details and the fact that the subject is horrifying, you imagine something rightfully horrifying.
3. A little scary, actually. If the theory of multiple universes is correct, than Cthulhu has to exist out there, waiting to be summoned.
4. Cthulhu and the other great old ones. Other villains stand a chance of being killed.
Middledistance Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Professional General Artist
Yeah, I agree: you've nailed it: and that Lovecraft left most of his monster descriptions tantalizingly vague and that the very presence of the 'Elder Gods' distorted pysical laws making them difficult to view with the naked eye... well, that's like waving a red flag at a bull to an imaginative artist, isn't it?

Did you know Lovecraft invented the word 'Eldritch'?
kamm-89 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
fanart Cthulhu powaaaa !!!
ErebusRed Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
1. Yes! And Nyarlathotep scares me too!

2. The sense of mystery. The lack of final, definative explanations, visions or revelations. The reality of Cthulhu would be more horrible than our imaginings. It is fun to see different attempts to convey this.

3. You could make any arguement here... but I will say it depends on whether Cthulhu is a motif for real evil.

4. Possession I guess. The losing of one's own will.
paulo-brito Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
Painandirony Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
A) Cthulhu is merely a priest god for the Elder Gods, though many consider him a god himself. He is not the end-all-be-all, merely the end of Earth.
B) The question dealing with "Which one do you fear more?" is just plain silly because: 1) Undead are not strangers to the Cthulhu mythos. 2) Vampires are no match. 3) Possession happens in the stories as well, look at "Rats in the Walls". and 4) Cthulhu is, in all technical terms an alien, he decended from the stars as a star born child to earth where he was banished by the elder gods to wait for long eons.
C) There is so much more to read about Cthulhu than this little bit. I would encourage any reader or follower to at least look at every wiki page for ever significant god of the Mythos. While Cthulhu will always be my favorite, the others are just as important.
PrincessAsparagus92 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't want Lord Voldemort to put imperio or any curses on Fluttershy :(

I love Lovecraft :)
11jp3 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
nor do i she is to innocent i think that she is so good that she could get voldy to turn the other cheek
PrincessAsparagus92 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Right :nod:
11jp3 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012
but why would he say its in the bramuda when we cant even fly a plane over it ,let alone sail through it
PrincessAsparagus92 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Maybe the bermuda triangle is where the Cthulhu lives and it's the reason why no ships or jet planes ever return...
11jp3 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012
is that how you would commit suiside like that i might
PrincessAsparagus92 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Probably, but I would rather get help though...
11jp3 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2012
i would just float into the bermuda and let my self be torn apart by cachulu
(1 Reply)
Arnie100 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
THAT is some scary stuff!
AfroNinjaX Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
This is immense
raz0rblade-apolo Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
Cthulhu is a great old one, not a god as most people think. Cthulhu is such a small and insignificant part of Lovecraft's world. He is vaguely mentioned in one story and is the central focus of another, that is it. Two stories out of multitudes. IMHO Nyarlathotep is much more menacing, and lore wise much more powerful. Don't get me wrong Cthulhu is awesome, but I hate that Lovecraft's work always get regulated to Cthulhu.
JaredTheCat Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
When I first heard of Cthulhu, I knew only the instrumental that Metallica performed (Though spelled "Ktulu") ONe of my closest friends now always says "praise the great Cthulhu!"
goddessishtar88 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Student General Artist
Cthulu reminds of the kraken in every way one that both of them are mythical creatures of Poseidon and the ocean and secondly they are very easy to draw and goes well with pirates and science fiction horror art/ stories. H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favorite writers
Wolf-of-Paradise Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, thanks for this. I've noticed a lot of growing fanaticism over this Lovecraft masterpiece. Definitely one of my favorite epic character concepts.
BluAmu Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
I'd think possession would be scarier than some god randomly knifing you dead with his cosmic power. I think possession would be scarier mainly because you don't have conscious control even though you are still alive. Cthulhu killing you would just be an end you couldn't control.
DayVeeThe Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
Jedi vs Cthulu! ....wait WHAT?!
mach03trek Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
11jp3 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
is cthulu suppost to be real or somthing
Painandirony Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
There is a blip in the Pacific where he is said to be kept in his City of R'lyeh which Lovecraft gave very specific coordinates for. Take a guess what coordinates the blips are coming from.
11jp3 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
the brimuta triangle?
lone-jedi33 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
a truly fascinating article!!!
rose9868 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
very nice :)
Sightseeer Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012
My answers :P

1) Is Cthulhu the supreme monster and Lovecraft the supreme horror writer?

I would say yes :P. The pesimistic view and the terrible power displayed by Lovecraft on his writings are the thing tht make unique these monsters and his tales scary.

Horror often relies on a gory death, bodily harm, soul damnation... but how many can really think on getting doom just by knowing too much? I'm kinda dissapointed recent treatments of the Mythos use a lot of gory deaths and sexual deviancy, because Lovecraft didn't relied on such elements to make scary his tales... and they are pretty scary without them.

Unchalleneged? I wouldn't be so sure, but not because Lovecraft isn't good.

It's just that in writing people has produced so many different works with so many different approaches it would be silly to say who is the best of the very best (I'd rather say he is the best in horror tales with monsters).

My second favourite is Stephen King (who played a tribute to the Cthulhu Mythos in one of his tales), but his mastery relies in the horrors of the mind of man and his passions, not in the fear of that there's a truth above all that is magnificent, dooming, terrible and should remain undiscovered.

2) Why Cthulhu has prevailed in history?

I would agre with all the options: the power, the possibilities, the feeling created by the author describing a creature out of this world.

But I would add also the feeling of marvel and fear big things produce in us. Thinking on Cthulhu is like thinking on what would be inside a black hole or how wide is the galaxy or which one would be the very last number of the numbers... it is looking directly into something big, old, massive and beyond our comprehension.

Lovecraft coined a monster that is horrifying and long lasting because it represents all what men has ever wanted to answer: what is life? what is eternity? where things start and how do they end?

Cthulhu is the answer to most of them, but not a calm rational answer. Not something we can weight and measure.

It is the answer beyond the answers, the truth that beneath all the rational world we know there is a wild craziness awaiting to eat our minds... and that we can't do (or maybe just we can't think on a way) to stop it.

3) Is it good there is a real Cthulhu cult? Would it be better if there was a cult on a good concept of fiction?

First of all, a thing is real if you believe it is real. Though it could be fun to say you are a member of the Cthulhu cult you are bringing to the real world not only the concept of the beast, of the acts of it too.

Eventually, in any case, seomone takes it too seriously (people even commited murders after The Matrix release because they found in the fiction something that explained the problems on their lives, so they took the solution the fiction gave, in this case: those who are in the system are against you, so you must kill them).

Secondly, when something is very well constructed, it's hard to beleive there is no such thing around us.

Akham, Innsmouth, R'lyeh, Cthulhu... that universe is sooo well developed it's hard as a fan not to ask "Were do I find all this?".

People has tried to find the Necronomicon (some even claim Loveraft met Aleister Crowley, the dark magician who claimed himself was the beast, and that he showed H.P. the book that inspired the Necronomicon).

It's just our need to believe, to think we are part of something way beyond us and that existance isn't futile (though there is a contradiction, because the point of Lovecraft in the Mythos was that existance is futile... Cthulhu eventually will release the horrors and earth will cease to exist, so enjoy while you can :P).

About something good... well, Crusaders thought God wanted them to fight against infidels, so they went to conquer Jerusalem... and in the way they killed every man, woman and child that didn't love the cross.

Everything is relative and everything can be taken out of context. Not even the good fiction is free of becoming something destructive and harm innocents (besides, the Jedi thing in Australia was kind of a practical joke. There was the rumour that if a good percentage of the population signed "Jedi" as their religion, the government will be forced to list it as a recognized official religion... obviously government and the census organism don't work that way :P).

I would add another question for those who don't now the ffact I'm gonna list after: What creates a long lasting myth? The quality of the fiction? The science that holds part of the plot? Or the tiny little facts that can be true or false, but that give you the sense that there could be something else there and you may find it if you scratch a little (many people refuse to accept the Necronomicon is fake because Lovecraft quotes it regularly, so they think that if he quoted a part of a book, there HAS to be a book)?

I ask for the following:

In 1997 the NOAA could hear in their hydrophonic system a new ind of sound they could not identify. They called it The Bloop [link] and its source remains unknown... but if it is produced by a livign thing it would be a massive creature, way bigger than the Blue Whale (the biggest animal we know).

That sure rings a bell: Cthulhu is described as a massive creature way bigger than any other living being.

But if you scratch a little further...

Cthulhu awaits in the corpse city of R'lyeh, which has no exact location, because the Mythos change its place at will.

Lovecraft placed it at 479′S 12643′W in the South Pacific, his friend August Derleth moved it to the point 4951′S 12834′W.

Both points are intended to be close to a significant geographic point: the Pole of Inaccessibility, the point in the ocean farthest from any land mass (the exact point is located at 4852.6′S 12323.6′W).

Well, we have the general zone to play in the maps with our Lovecraft books and R'lyeh references...

Well, the Bloop sound mentioned before, that sound that if made by a living creature would be the biggest creature even known to man, was traced by the scientis to a point close to the coordinates 50 S 100 W.

That rings another thousand bells :P.

That rises the question: do we create things like the Mythos... or they create us? How much of the tiny little facts of the fiction are really fiction?

Have a nice night >:)
Gnarll Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I have come across Lovecraft's Cthulhu as well as the RPG Call of Cthulhu, (which to be fair may be based on the original Lovecraft) and think that as an evil overlord type god he pretty much wins out. I would however champion the Reckoners as a group of elder gods as the pre-Christian embodiment of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Latitude-64 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Hastur Hastur Ha........
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