Cthulhu is Still Calling
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Published: March 1, 2012










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








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Comments (1536)
muteor's avatar
muteor|Hobbyist General Artist
awesome
Reply  ·  
human-groveback's avatar
human-groveback|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.
Reply  ·  
karizar's avatar
karizar|Hobbyist Photographer
Lovecraft forever. 
Reply  ·  
stratospear's avatar
stratospear|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...
Reply  ·  
NINJALLEN's avatar
jedi cthulhu war would be awesome
Reply  ·  
Xena110's avatar
Hahaha but seriously why would I be scared of Cthulhu? HE SO CUTE!!!!! Broken Fighting Dome (Kawaii Please) Hi! Devilish 
Reply  ·  
JoynerStudio's avatar
JoynerStudio|Professional Artisan Crafter
Wow.  I can't believe I just noticed this.  Thank you for featuring my Key of Cthulhu, deviantART!
Reply  ·  
techgnotic's avatar
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.
Reply  ·  
JoynerStudio's avatar
JoynerStudio|Professional Artisan Crafter
Same here, and it was wonderful having you guys visit!
Reply  ·  
pigsinzen's avatar
My god these are amazing. Love the Mythos ... love these art pieces. Awesome work!
Reply  ·  
Ritiakaramne's avatar
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?
Reply  ·  
Seothen's avatar
Seothen|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.
Reply  ·  
MorGothDoom's avatar
MorGothDoom| Traditional Artist
IA!!! IA!!! Cthulhu phtagn. IA!!! IA!!! Cthulhu phtagn. IA!!! IA!!! Cthulhu phtagn!!!
Reply  ·  
ChosenDefect's avatar
: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
Reply  ·  
Ritiakaramne's avatar
Or is it changing your own nature into what you fear and make the darkness your only true home?
Reply  ·  
Blacksand459's avatar
Blacksand459|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 plausible...to make a horror scene truly terrifying.

Great article though. Thanks!
Reply  ·  
WOLFBEN's avatar
Lucu-lucu... XD
Reply  ·  
Master-of-the-Boot's avatar
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.
Reply  ·  
Daltimus-Prime's avatar
Daltimus-Prime|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.
Reply  ·  
Middledistance's avatar
Middledistance|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'?
Reply  ·  
kamm-89's avatar
kamm-89|Professional Digital Artist
fanart Cthulhu powaaaa !!!
Reply  ·  
ErebusRed's avatar
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.
Reply  ·  
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