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Posts Tagged ‘Cthulhu’

31 Monster Toys #18: Plush Nylarathotep

October 18th, 2013 No comments

I occasionally wonder what author H.P. Lovecraft would’ve thought about the merchandising of his stories over the past three decades. Walk into any comics or game store, and you can’t swing a dead Zoog without hitting something squamous and/or rugose.

Geeks love ironically adorable versions of loathsome things. Not long after some enterprising folks began selling handmade plush toys of Lovecraft’s alien god Cthulhu, a company named Toy Vault ran with the idea and milked those blasphemous teats for all they were worth. Not only did they make plush Cthulhu dolls, they made plush slippers, plush hats and even plush cell phone holders.

Sometime after they made Summer Fun Cthulhu, Superhero Cthulhu and Secret Agent Cthulhu (and no, I am not kidding), they got around to some of the Elder God’s pals. Above is their representation of Nyarlathotep the Crawling Chaos, as depicted in Lovecraft’s short story “The Haunter in the Dark.”

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31 Monster Toys #12: Ogrethulhu

October 12th, 2013 No comments

One of the “names” of the budding gaming hobby of the late ’70s was Steve Jackson, whose design Ogre ushered in a subgenre of “microgames,” wargames that could fit in a pocket and played over lunchtime. Ogre was a clever, asymmetrical contest set in a near future of tactical nuclear warfare. One player fielded a force of conventional troops, tanks and hovercraft in defense of a stationary HQ, and the other player received a single unit: the Ogre, a monstrous cybertank controlled by a ruthless AI.

Ogre remains a beloved classic, and once Steve Jackson began his own company, he milked that puppy for all it was worth and more. Here, from his now-defunct line of metal Ogre miniatures, is the Ogrethulhu. It’s a good example of the “two things” design philosophy: take two things that geeks like, and mush them together. In this case, it’s the Ogre combined with another mainstay of the gaming community, H.P. Lovecraft’s alien god Cthulhu.

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The Shadow Out Of Recess

November 16th, 2010 No comments

This is great stuff: an artist challenges a group of kids aged 8-18 to draw the monsters of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror fiction. The results? Surprisingly good! (Okay, so everyone had to make a sanity roll before lunch, but that’s a small price to pay for art!)

You can see galleries of youthful interpretations of the Elder Things, Old Ones, Shoggoths and even Great Cthulhu himself at David Milano’s blog!

Me Of Little Faith: Cthulhu Fhtagn!

August 19th, 2010 No comments

My friend Mark responded to my recent “Me of Little Faith” post with the following:

Dave! While you were “Facebooking,” you wrote:

“Alternately, we’re all just tiny, briefly-existing specks in an incomprehensible vast and uncaring universe who have created gods in our own image to keep the nightmares away.”

But, you forgot to write the most important part of your comment! Namely:

” . . . and soon, Cthulhu will awake, the seas will boil off, the continents will shake like gelatin, the electrons in the carbon atoms that comprise our bodies will be forcibly torn from their orbits, and our souls will be used as the clay for his obscene and inscrutable purposes.  Have a nice day everyone.”

I’m reposting this not only because I think it’s funny, but because Mark correctly identified the intersect between my personal beliefs and the writings of author H.P. Lovecraft.

I’ve long been fascinated by Lovecraft. At first it was mostly due to the absurd names he gave to his indescribably horrible horrors. (Oh yes, I’m so very terrified of Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.) Later, I came to recognize the massive influence he’s had on horror and fantasy literature, comics and movies.

The central themes of Lovecraft’s body of work describe a universe which is incomprehensible and, at best, uncaring. Mankind is neither the first intelligent life to walk on the Earth, nor will it be the last. Cosmic forces lurk in the gulfs of space and in the most inhospitable parts of our globe, biding their time until “the stars are right” and they reemerge to smite victims and followers alike.

Now, I don’t believe that extradimensional nightmares with far too many consonants in their names are anticipating the day when they can squoosh humanity between their rugose and squamous toes. But the notion of a universe that defies understanding has stuck with me.

When I think of our relationship with the seemingly infinite voids that surround us, I cannot help but be reminded of ants. Ants do some of the things that humans do: form castes, build structures, farm and fight. And their senses allow them to perceive much of the larger world around them.

But does that ant crawling up your pant leg comprehend the surface upon which it treads? Does it recognize you as another living creature? Can it have even the tiniest inkling about how denim is made, or about the Chinese sweatshop in which your garment was assembled?

I think that humans are perhaps a bit better off than ants in our understanding of the universe. We have complex equipment that has allowed us to look deeply in the darkness, and a scientific method that analyzes data and tests hypotheses.

But I believe that the universe is simply too large and too weird for us to ever truly figure it all out. And it strikes me as supreme arrogance for any of us to declare that they understand the nature and purpose (if any exists) of our shared reality.

If someone today arose from the rabble and claimed to be the living embodiment of God, we would (rightly) laugh them out of town. Well, most of us would, anyway. But a great many are all too willing to accept hearsay testimony on behalf of people who once claimed to have first-hand knowledge of God…or even to be God. And these people conveniently lived thousands of years ago, before mass communications or sensitive scientific instruments were invented, in a part of the world that, to be blunt, most modern-day Americans don’t exactly trust.

I hope you’ll pardon me if I say that I don’t believe that any of us understands it all.

31 Monsters #9: Lovecraftian Horrors

October 9th, 2009 No comments

As I became aware of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, I found that I had a hard time getting past the names of his cosmic horrors. Really, you want me to be afraid of something called Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young?

After my initial childish glee, I began to take a closer look and found that some of his themes coincided with my own philosophy about the nature of reality. No, I don’t think that there are squid-like, alien gods waiting for their chance to descend upon humanity in an orgy of madness and death. But a central theme of what’s been dubbed “Lovecraftian” fiction is that humans are nothing special. We are not the first inhabitants of Earth by a long shot, nor will we be the last. We are insignificant specks in a unfathomably vast, uncaring universe.

But hey, that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun while it lasts! So here is my handy guide to determine whether you, the reader, are a Lovecraftian horror.