Cthulhu Slash: 80 Years of Lovecraft Fan Fiction
Posted October 17, 2009on:
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Image dipped it’s toe in the anthology horror pool this week, getting very much in the Kool-Aid of Dark Horse and other publishers more closely identified with old school horror comics with it’s release of hit and miss horror web comic Nightmare World.
While Dark Horse is looking to the past, re-releasing collections of the totally underrated Creepy, while also re-launching the title with contemporary horror heads at the helm, Image is taking a bet that genre horror still has a little terrible, disturbing unlife pulsing through it’s corrupt veins. But in placing their bets on Nightmare World, they’re hedging pretty mightily – Dirk Manning’s webcomic takes it’s cues from a number of sources, including classic anthology horror like The Twilight Zone and EC’s masterful pre-code horror work, but it is unmistakably a piece of vast and ever growing Cthulhu mythos, whether it wants to be or not.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The horror genres most enduring mythology has become amazingly prevalent in comics today. The influence of the work of authors like Robert Bloch, August Derleth and progenitor H.P. Lovecraft is obvious in works like Mike Mignola’s ongoing horror epic Hellboy. where betentacled gods older than humanity sleep beneath the world, served by monstrous, pre-human race.
But rather than just influenced by the seminal work of the horror writers of the early 20th century, there are more and more books on store shelves that are, arguably, parts of the Cthulhu Mythos proper. Nightmare World opens with a completely straight faced and unapologetic story that is vintage Cthulhu. Meanwhile, Brian Clevinger’s latest Atomic Robo series envisions a slapstick version of everyone’s favorite betentacled Elder God using Lovercraft himself as a portal into the world and eventually beaten back by a team of Robo and Carl Sagan. Which is the great thing about the Cthulhu Mythos – as the original and oldest fan fiction environment, and after nearly 100 years of contribitions from a staggering variety of authors, it’s become a very big tent. Thanks for that go to the nature of the mythos, which has always been very welcoming, as well as very active.
After growing gradually over the years, the mythos got a shot in the arm courtesy of the Call of Cthulhu role playing game, which demonstrated once again that medium’s gift for giving lasting structure to things, be it a fictional pseudo-mythology or my Saturday nights for like eight years. Graphic adaptations of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu work have been around since the 1950’s but they’ve become big business in the last couple years with original titles like Boom’s Fall of Cthulhu, Young H.P. Lovecraft and countless others. And Image’s bet on Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep and He Who Shall Not Be Named comes with solid precedent – Ron Howard recently signed on to adapt the pulpy Image hit The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft for the big screen. Which is double good, because it means there’s that much more chance he’ll keep his mitts off At The Mountains Of Madness until del Toro finally decides he wants to do something with it.