"My whole originality consists in having made improbable beings according to the laws of probability, placing, insofar as possible, the logic of the visible at the service of the invisible."-Odilon Redon 


     "Theodore Lovecraft" is the admitted pen name taken by a writer for his new (unpublished) horror novel. *** The 1980 movie The Sea Wolves has a character named "Lovecroft." And a "W. Lovecroft" is one of those who attended a festival in honor of David Livingstone before his departure to explore the river "Zambesi" (in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London (1857)).


     According to Fangoria, SOTA Toys plans to have figures based on Cthulhu, the shoggoth, and Pickman's model. *** Several plush mythos creations of HPL are for sale.


<>     According to The Grand Rapids Press, "Lovecraft" was the name of a boat-building company. *** A sex shop in Cardiff, Wales bears this name. *** Assigned to do a restaurant tabletop, toy designer Sam Hatmaker created "Lovecraft," which is "a mixed-media creation using cannibalized [sic] parts of plastic action figures and creatures" (quoted from Hospitality Design (1 May 2004)). *** The motto of (another) The Esoteric Order of Dagon is "Changing lives, one gill at a time. In the heart of historic Innsmouth since 1846." Among the clothes it sells are, what else, fishnet stockings. 


     The "rat man" from "The Dreams in the Witch-House" has lent his name, alternatively spelled, to a Celtic music group, calling itself, Browne Jenkyn. 

Art and Comics

     He is one of the people drawn in the Heads Project by Jesse Bransford. *** Could this be the first allusion to HPL in comic books? Captain Marvel Adventures #1 (Fawcett, 1941) includes a 16 page story, "The Vampire" (Joe Simon (Script), Jack Kirby (Pencils), Dick Briefer (Inks)), with reference to a book, The Vampire Legend by H.P. Lovecraft. *** For several issues, beginning with December 1983 the Justice League of America had the character of "Dr. Lovecraft." *** A review of Arts Unknown: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye by Lee Ortiz (Nonstop, 2005) has been written by Ben, along with an interview, in Publishers Weekly (31 Jan 2005). *** In Seattle HPL and others "figure into a group show of lowbrow pop art by painters Michael "Pooch" Pucciarelli and Joe Chiodo."  

Movies, Documentaries, and Drama

     "In case you haven't been paying attention the last decade, 'Lovecraftian' is the highest compliment you can pay to an independent low-budget filmmaker"-quoted from a 2002 review by Joe Bob Briggs. *** Containing interviews with S.T., Ramsey Campbell, and others, The Eldritch Influence: The Life, Vision, and Phenomenon of H.P. Lovecraft is on DVD. *** H.P. Lovecraft is a documentary directed by Federico Greco and Roberto Leggio. *** The 2000 play Irish Lesbian Vampire 2 by Rob Matsushita had a character named "Lovecraft." *** Apparently in 2002 there was a production called Miskatonic U. whose characters included Harry Houdini ("brash") and H.P. Lovecraft ("neurotic").*** The origins and rocky road to production of A Shoggoth on the Roof is the subject in an article by Terry Morgan, Back Stage West (28 Oct 04), which also has references to the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. *** Receiving exceptionally bad reviews, the movie (from the game of the same name) Alone in the Dark claims its inspiration from his works. *** The puppet show, A Girl for Cthulhu, was held by the Shadow Circus group in San Francisco. *** The title character in the 2001 production of "The Slow and Painful Death of Sam Shepard" lives near the "Mountains of Madness." Singer Patti Smith, a Lovecraft fan, is portrayed in this. (In Seattle, the used bookstore Twice Sold Tales reports that  Smith sang a nonsense verse about coming to the store to buy a Lovecraft book.) *** By this time it's well-known that a tv series, Masters of Horror, will include an adaptation of "The Dreams in the Witch-House" which will be directed by Stuart Gordon; this will be his fourth Lovecraft film, making him the most prolific director of Lovecraft works. *** There was a talk "Too Much of Nothing: Hollywood's Treatment(s) of H. P. Lovecraft" by Mark Schemanske of Idaho State University (see page 47, South Atlantic Review, Sep 1994). 


     "The Statement of Randolph Carter" was dramatized in 2002 for Hallowe'en on Maine Public Radio. *** According to Wikipedia, on HPL's one-hundredth birthday a radio station in Tasmania, Australia broadcast "The Call of Cthulhu." (Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, and the collected talent of the knowledgeable have produced an article that shows a greater understanding of its subject than most pay-for articles.)      


     "Poe and Lovecraft: Contrasting Views in the Horror Story" was presented by Winfred S. Emmons, Jr. of Ouachita College at the 11th Annual Meeting of the South-Central Modern Language Association, 1954. At the 1957 conference of the Association his subject was "Cosmological Mythology in the Stories of H. P. Lovecraft."  

Arkham House

     There's a review of Arkham House Books: A Collector's Guide (McFarland & Company, 2004) by retired wildlife biologist Leon Nielsen. Further  information is at Amazon.com. 

Library of America Reviews

     If one were to trace the print high points of Lovecraft's acceptance, the chart might run:

·              publication in Weird Tales-which established him;

·              Arkham House's The Outsider and Others-first professional collection of his stories in hardcover;

·              two stories in the Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural-recognition by a major publisher in a landmark anthology;

·              appearance of a paperback-spreading his popularity;

·              and now, the Library of America collection of Tales validating him as part of the American canon.

     As a result there has been reviews of the book in mainstream publications which otherwise would not mention his work. 

     U.S. News and World Report (27 Dec 2004) lists H.P. Lovecraft: Tales as one of the books to look out for in 2005. (I dare say that the choice of the simple sub-title Tales was chosen partly to evoke memory of Lovecraft's chief pulp market.) Science fiction and mystery writer James Sallis has a very knowing piece on HPL in the Boston Globe (30 January 2005), "Lovecraft, 'the Copernicus of the Horror Story'." The book itself has a very favorable review in the same newspaper by Michael Kenney under "The Library of America Scares Up a Collection of Lovecraft's Local Lore" (15 Feb 2005). Meanwhile, in Publishers Weekly former EODite Peter Cannon interviewed Peter Straub about his editing of the book ("A Great American Writer" (3 Jan 2005)). *** The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (30 March) includes comments from Straub in its article as well as a short bibliography and definitions of Lovecraft-created terms. *** Michael Dirda has a top-drawer review in The Weekly Standard, "The Horror, the Horror!" (7 March 2005). *** Coincident or not, the anniversary date of his death marks the first time HPL has been mentioned in The Wall Street Journal in "H. P. Lovecraft's Afterlife" by John J. Miller The author observes of Tales "There are now 25,000 copies in print, which is an above-average number for the nonprofit publisher. (A book of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" and other writings, released at the same time, has an initial printing of 19,000.)" *** Also on the ides WBUR, Boston's National Public Radio station, had a review of the book and an interview with Peter Straub, that may be heard. *** The review (3 April) in the Sun-Sentinel by Chauncey Mabe begins with the statement that "poor Edmund Wilson must have been a humorless humbug" and continues on with a chiefly credible appreciation of Lovecraft, "a ferocious autodidact."*** While the review in the Los Angeles Times is favorable, as a work it is so-so, unlike the dynamic one of the same issue concerning the Houellebecq work (see next section). *** Both Salon.com and the New York Times have unfavorable reviews, but show that ignorance is no impediment against holding forth on a subject. Let's take the Daniel Handler review. There's disrespect for his subject, sarcastic tone, factual errors-e.g., "The Beast in the Cave" was "his first story." There's also the cliche phrase whose pattern is, makes x look like a Sunday school picnic. Add an Edmund Wilsonish snobby tone, a lack of appreciation for the imagination, and smug psycho-babble. However, I enjoyed one blog rebut as well as Henrik's, which offers his right-on refutation in the letters section of the Times. Some of his ammunition uses the Lovecraft quote from Supernatural Horror in Literature ("The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow...").     


     In the shadow of H.P. Lovecraft: Tales is a book translated from French by enfant terrible Michel Houellebecq, whose name I terribly mangled when I first mentioned him in an 'aster over a decade ago. The 17 April New York Times has a review of H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life (Believer Books/McSweeney's, 2005). There is also two Lovecraft stories and an introduction by Stephen King, bless him, which is excerpted as a very readable and a thoughtful review in the Los Angeles Times of the same date. Unfortunately, King makes some mis-statements, such as having a rift between Derleth and Wandrei ending their friendship and the observation that Arkham House "is no more." *** A portrait of HPL shares the cover with Houellebecq for the issue of Bookforum (April/May 2005), which contains a review. 

Influence and Allusions

     Cthulhu makes an appearance in Knees Up Mother Earth by Robert Rankin (Gollancz, 2004), as does H.G. Wells. *** The Goth girl protagonist of As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway has a preoccupation with Harry Houdini and Lovecraft.


      Serendipitously visiting E-Bay, I came across a "for sale" of The Outsider and Others. Photos reminded me of what the book looked like. This included a bookplate of its previous owner, A. Earl Perry. Casting about, I discovered that he was an erstwhile correspondent of HPL, who sent to him a document that was published as an essay, "Story-Writing." Also online I found an essay by him about Robert E. Howard, who was alive at the time. It would be wonderful if there was a source listing all of Lovecraft's correspondents. Closest is The H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, but it has several omissions, such as Perry and Carl F. Strauch.    


     Whose more popular on the web, HPL or REH? Based on a comparative "Google smack," there are 58,200 results for the former and 20,300 for the latter. Poor Clark Ashton Smith got just 7,430. However, Cthulhu leads the group with 719,000 vs. Conan the Barbarian's 41,600.


     Lisa Graham Keegan, superintendent of public instruction of the state of Arizona, gave congressional testimony about "the Lovecraftian shadow that [the U.S. Department of Education] has now cast over funding for schools" (from Congressional Testimony, 5 Sep 2000). I wonder what the politicians thought when they heard the word "Lovecraftian"? 


     A knowledgeable obituary about author and publisher Jack L. Chalker is available at  In the 1970's I bought a few books from Chalker's Mirage Press, collecting some of my earliest Lovecraft criticism outside of Arkham House volumes. Yet what I remember is that I am owed money by the press for pre-payment of some book that was announced but never published (though I admit my memory is caliginous on this point). And I remember seeing a Mirage ad for a life and history of a "School McDuck." Who? One of the inscrutable characters of the fantasy field, about which I was still learning? Later I discovered that what I had read was a typo for the inimitable Scrooge McDuck, of whom I remain fond. 

"Satrap Pharnabazus"

     This is the appellation that HPL used for Farnsworth Wright (in letters and "The Battle That Ended the Century"), presumably because of a sound similarity between "Farnsworth" and "Pharnabazus." There was a real Pharnabazus, a Persian governor (satrap) of Phrygia (circa 413 B.C.). 

For Mailing 127

: I wonder why Galpin destroyed the letters to him from HPL. Maybe he considered them negligible, or for whatever reason wanted to be rid of his correspondent's memory. I fail to understand how you consider the cover of Letters to Alfred Galpin "the most 'weird' of the covers ever to grace an HPL book." The cover, whose only illustration is the Lovecraft profile, is very sedate and normal. Perhaps you are being ironic? *** I pretty much remain fastened to my view that to call HPL's style "florid" is inaccurate; that to call it "asianic" is unclear; and "Johnsonian" is the best, in part because this is how HPL saw it. People go wrong about Lovecraft's style because they are looking for literary antecedents, whereas I think the origin is much closer to some academics writing around the turn of the century; for example, Yale professor William Graham Sumner in Folkways (1907). *** I hope you decide to send out that story you have written, realizing that you chance rejection. To digress, it is curious how many would-be writers are shot down by one rejection. Resentment or hurt is a luxury that the earnest author cannot afford, however understandable it is (HPL is a typical example). Imagine somebody who wants to be a salesman quitting his job because he or she doesn't make their first sale. If nothing else, print it in The Philosopher. In this group you are assured of some interested readers. *** Thanks for the good words about my essays comparing the rats with the hound. *** I go on the assumption that Lovecraft attracts many more male than female readers. Without speculating about the why of this, there are professions that attract or evidence many more men than women (the president of Harvard brewed a firestorm with this avowal). To take one example that you might appreciate, there are more male philosophers than female. *** Rather than the notorious soubriquet "trekkies"-the "ie" ending must be thought of as a pejorative-I think it is more neutral to call them "trekkers." *** You refer to the questionable documentary quality of Le Cas H. P. Lovecraft, which I have not seen. I note that non-fiction film works are becoming more fictional. For example, the National Geographic channel carries dramatized accounts of emergencies, etc. with the result that one can't tell if the characters are actors playing the real-life counterparts, if the dialogue has been made-up, etc. This calls into credibility the whole National Geographic organization itself. What is real in these times? *** It is amazing how many members denigrate their own production, the "I'm not worthy" syndrome. Twaddle! Show some confidence in your abilities and don't underestimate the interest level of your peers. Some of us enjoy reading the zines. And perhaps future readers will, when they find them in the Brown University or whatever archives. *** Congratulations on editing Out of the Shadows, a worthy work on the worthy S.T. In reading your philosophic essay on a subject out of my range, I will talk only about your presentation of global scepticism and Descartes "demon hypothesis"; that we cannot know that we cannot know, for we cannot assume that either logic or deception is credible, actual. A demon could be deceiving us, assuming there could be deception; or "it" (if there is an "it") could not. Who knows?                               

     Ben: You are using the right word to say that producers and others are bastardizing his works, beyond the thousand young that the black goat can acknowledge. *** As observes non-agenarian Nelson Bond-who I only wish well, and congratulate him about having a third book coming from Arkham House-mine is an opinion, however much of a minority as it may be. I don't understand how his quote from Julius Caesar applies to me, but that is no matter. To continue on his Far Side of Nowhere-I object to the tongue-in-cheek, crack-wise style in any author. The constant play with language takes away credibility from the narrative and forces humor, which doesn't belong. Language and narrative become too self-conscious of itself as an ill-conceived forcing of "entertainment." *** Arthur C. Clarke, like HPL, has a sense of the marvelous and mysterious, though I might not, as you seem to, consider a kinship betwixt Rendevous with Rama and "The Colour out of Space." *** The idea of Creating Very Old People is certainly attractive to some, but I trust this means that the quality of life continues on into extreme old age. While I fear death as much as anyone, I am not that enamored with my self. Who would want to be a deathless struldbrugg (in Gulliver's Travels)?

     Ken: Thanks for your review of Collected Essays that is bursting with information that I presume is mostly not in the title itself.

     Bruce: I have only looked at the footnotes of your excellent "The Genetics of Horror: Sex and Racism in H.P. Lovecraft's Fiction."   First, its length makes for work in reading it online, a principle reason why I prefer buying print versions of public domain titles that are free online. You accuse Sonia Davis of "double-talk" in her oxymoronic description of the married HPL, observing "biographer S.T. Joshi admits his bafflement at what an "adequately excellent" lover could be." I have just thought, that perhaps this was a normal way for Sonia to express herself because her English was that of an immigrant. Wasn't her writing heavily edited, perhaps because of this grammatical unfamiliarity? *** You don't explain why you believe Lovecraft's attempt to incorporate scientific discoveries in his fiction was "riddled with flaws." *** You state "It is doubtful that Lovecraft ever consciously realised that his tales were ever dealing with the subject of sex to any real degree." This makes the assumptions that the tales were dealing with the subject, and if they were, HPL didn't know it. This should be more circumspect.

     David: You give an enjoyable and interesting report on the International Fortean Organization convention. The people who attend them may be as credulous about what is presented as, perhaps, the average citizen, but certainly neither a scientist nor a sceptic would accept what comes across there, even such a fairly moderate example as the case of the large cat sightings in Britain.

     John G.: Maybe you should expand on your jeu d'esprit about an Ernest Hemingway game. Who knows, it could take off! ***  I agree that Cthulhu-as-teddy-bear was created to make the being comfortable, to remove its horror aspect. At least that is some of it. Cthulhu is part of a context-an aspect of the unknown-from which the public excised it to represent the ideas and emotions that "The Call of Cthulhu" contained. However, this context is submerged or forgotten with Cthulhu alone, who serves as an emblem. *** Thanks for your review of House of Leaves. At least a few other mainstream reviewers have evoked the name of Lovecraft, and it appears from your description that the debt is indirect, that perhaps the work is not Lovecraftian. *** Wow, we certainly disagree on the merits of Clark Ashton Smith. Of "The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis" I think very highly, though I haven't read it in years. There is a dark irony and humor in Smith that you may not appreciate, especially if you are expecting Lovecraft.

     Alan: I enjoyed "The Twilight Necropolis" for its atmosphere and suggestiveness.

     John H: I hope you are enjoying your retirement and that the EOD can see a lot more of your work. *** You are another critic of critic Edmund Wilson. While reading your remarks, I thought of a little in Wilson's defense. It is the fact that he at least considered Lovecraft, unlike other of his contemporary literary critics, who deigned not to discuss HPL, through ignorance or because they didn't consider HPL worth the powder. But Wilson did tackle the subject, and I suspect his viewpoint was close to the norm. Genre fiction-science fiction, fantasy-probably got little respect in the 1940's. There may have been exceptions, but they were exceptions. *** One problem I see about your suggestion of publishing letters according to subject is that somebody will have to decide what falls within the purview of a subject, with the result that there would be omissions and additions. The letters would also be edited to appear less like a letter and more like an essay. Something like what you suggest has been done in Lord of a Visible World. *** Thanks for the good Magazine of Horror non-fiction index.

     Gavin: I appreciate the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath review. I wish it would've been possible to include a frame or two from the film. With the fact that Google is making it possible to upload videos, it soon may be possible for anyone to see an excerpt.

     Benjamin: Since I am writing this after you have resigned, you may miss this. Anyway, I got the book on HPL and Fritz Leiber that you co-edited and of course look forward to reading it. I enjoyed your interview with the Leiber maven Bruce Byfield for the light and sidelights that it threw on its subject. You asked some good questions.

     A. Langley: Here is my much delayed comment on Fantasy Commentator (no. 55 & 56), which belong to an earlier mailing. I spent twelve or more hours reading the issue, but will give only short comments. It is extremely well-documented in the Davin and Metcalf article that women were a solid presence in science fiction and not discriminated against. But fairy tales are hard to kill. Thanks in large part to the wish-to-believe, the idea that until the 1960's or 70's  women were grossly under-represented due to male hegemony will continue, impervious to evidence that is contrary. *** In his series the late Sam Moskowitz continues to give valuable observation about Hugo Gernsbach and the reign of Science Fiction Plus. Until reading this article I didn't realize how much writers wrote to editorial order, changing content so that it would sell and allowing their effort to be re-titled. *** Lloyd Biggle, Jr. is now more than an author that I have never read, but a keeper of science fiction's oral history. *** Through Cockcroft it is pleasing to discover that Ben Indick was the second most prolific letter writer to Famous Fantastic Mysteries and its ilk. *** The O'Brien poem about witches reminds me of a favorite by Walter de la Mare, "The Ride-by-Nights." *** As always the book reviews open windows on subjects that I find interesting, though I may never have time to read; though about twenty years ago I read The Metal Monster in paperback. Merritt's greatest sin is his unconvincing characters, who are stereotypes (I'm thinking of my recently read The Moon Pool).


     This has been the 44th issue of The Criticaster (April 2005, mailing 130) by Stephen Walker.  Eventually published on the Internet as a The Limbonaut (no 15).