Coulthart’s R’lyeh.

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Last of John Coulthart’s art for a bit. Just look at his depiction of R’lyeh above. Stunning stuff.

If you’re at all interested in his work, check out his main website (which sometimes features work NSFW or prudes) over here: Etalier Coulthart. If you’re at all interested in the esoteric and how it intersects with the popular arts, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

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More of John Coulthart’s adaptation of “Call of Cthulhu”, which not only envisions the alien vistas of Lovecraft’s R’lyeh, but the more mundane packaging and commercial products of the era, mixing the two in a way that Lovecraft himself never thought to.

Looking at this work, I’m still astonished at the sheer number of hours involved in tracing all these out in precise Rapidograph lines. All the same, none of this feels particularly over-rendered or choosing to sacrifice impact or design just to squeeze in superfluous detail.

The Starry Wisdom – one of several

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Art by Peter Smith, with design by John Balance

Happy Halloween. We’re going to try a new thing here, where I post stuff on my actual weblog and use Tumblr in a different way. Won’t bore you with reasons why.

The above images are from an anthology called THE STARRY WISDOM, published by Creation Books in 1994 (at least the second edition, which was expanded.) It’s a tribute to HP Lovecraft, but I suspect the contents of it would largely appall Lovecraft himself, or at least the persona that he projected in his fiction and what bit of his correspondence I’ve read. This is more like HPL crashing headlong into (primarily UK-based) esoteric subculture.

I’ve given the Intrapanel treatment to a chunk of the book, primarily the contributions of John Coulthart, who did a comics adaptation of “The Call of Cthulhu” which nails the spirit of the original in a way that few HPL adaptations have or will.

Interview with artist John Coulthart, from 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE

Originally posted in 2010. I don’t even say anything mean about steampunk in it. That’s how old it is.

Lovecraft is a hard act to follow, and an even harder one to adapt. “Oh you mean HP Lovecraft, the guy who came up with Cthulhu and all those cute little plush toys.” Yeah, the guy who launched a thousand little cottage industries pumping out VOTE FOR CTHULHU: THE STARS ARE RIGHT bumper stickers and Mythos Hunting Guides and all that stuff. Yeah, him. I do wonder if he’d be tickled or appalled at his legacy and all the eldritch dust-catchers and t-shirts and radio plays.

Well, he’d probably like the radio plays. He’d probably have even approved of the silent film adaptation of THE CALL OF CTHULHU, arguably his single most famous piece of fiction, certainly the one that’s lodged most deeply in the collective consciousness, for good or for ill. The film adaptation gets a solid recommendation from me, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m pretty hard to please as this stuff goes. Not because I think Lovecraft’s every word is sacred and perfect. I don’t. My relationship with HPL’s work is problematic, mostly in terms of the execution. I like characters. I like it when characters drive the plot. HPL couldn’t be bothered with that by and large, except when it was an incessant curiosity on the part of the players that made the eldritch secrets of the plot unfurl to their almost unerringly messy conclusions.

So I find HPL’s conceptual work rightly celebrated even if I find his prose nigh-unimpenetrable at times. Which is why I’m often attracted to adaptations of his work, where creators have a desire to stick to the template that HPL laid out, and often there’s some sense of respect for the source material, but it’s filtered through a different sense of aesthetics. HPL-inspired stuff that stars HPL himself? Not so much. Though there was that beautifully-illustrated LOVECRAFT OGN with art by Enrique Breccia that was so wonderful that I simply didn’t care about the story. Though I suppose there’s an interesting vein to mine when talking about Lovecraft as fictional construct rather than historical figure, but that’s for someone else to do.

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