One of the e-newsletters I get is about search engines. A recommendation was for a biography website, which I found wanting, since I looked up HPL; according to its very brief entry, he wrote about astrology. I contacted the editor about this, who mentioned that he “was a charter member of the Esoteric Order of Dagon many many years ago... (seriously! :-)” His name is Chris Sherman, for those of you whose memories go back that far. It would be interesting to learn if Lovecraft devotees share certain occupations in common as well as what has become of erstwhile EOD members.

Meetings and Conventions

The Providence Journal-Bulletin for 8 April (p. B-01) carried a story about an HPL graveside tribute. There were various ceremonies and a few people had duded up. The article arrestingly states: “It's fun to "contact" Lovecraft, said a man nearby. He was with a group that described itself as the local chapter of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. He declined to give his real name, but said his "EOD name" is Frater Nekromanteia.The group, which wore hoop earrings in lips and eyebrows, believes that "old ones have not died, but can be reawakened."” That is not you, Ben Indick, in disguise, is it? *** There's a report on Necronomicon 2001  *** Evelyn C. Leeper and Mark R. Leeper have a Millennium Philcon report that includes a description of two panels about him: “H.P. Lovecraft in the 21st Century” and “Hidden Lovecraft - Mythos in Popular Culture.”

If Howard Lovecraft was a hobbit, his name would be Ponto Goodbody of Frogmorton. This is according to the Hobbit Name Generator. And if you don’t believe me, then my name isn’t Mungo Sandybanks.


The 1890 New York City telephone directory has “Lovecraft Frederick A. jeweler, 26 Union sq. E. manager, 173 Fifth av. & v. pres. 5 Beekman, h 49 W. 32d” The 1889-91 Mt. Vernon, NY telephone directory has a George Lovecraft, with a dual occupation of “nursery; sexton” and living at 66 South 5th Avenue, Mount Vernon, NY; an 1870 census has a “George” living in the township of Eastchester. Another with the same first name appears in the Louisiana Census, 1810-90; according to the 1860 federal census he was living in New Orleans, which was some 70 odd years before HPL visited. There are several hits under the Rochester, NY directory, 1888-1891: widows Althea and Eleanor G.; Elizabeth and Joshua E., who are associated with Joseph Lovecraft & Son, the occupation of which is barrel-head manufacturing; bookkeeper George E.; and Sidney J., “planing [sic] mill.” William, Joseph, and John F. of Rochester are listed in the 1840 United States Federal Census, with a Joseph listed in the 1870 Federal Census Index for Illinois as living in the township of 9 W. Chicago. Is this the “J.F. Lovecraft” who is listed in issues of the Scientific American for being among the top 15 sellers of subscriptions (12 Jan 1856, p. 141 and 9 Jan 1858, p. 141)? The prizes in both instances was monetary. More interesting is the same journal for 13 May 1854, p. 276, which under a column headed “New Inventions” has a segment that begins, “J. F. Lovecraft, of Rochester, N. Y., has taken measure to secure a patent for an improvement in the feed motion of buzz and panel saws in mills. . .” and goes on to describe the working; perhaps there is some connection with Sidney J. and the “planning mill.” (I was able to locate the Scientific American information thanks to the online images supplied by the Cornell University Library.) *** I do not recall if it was mentioned that “S.” Lovecraft was a bugler on his discharge from the Union Army. *** Besides August Derleth, another Wisconsin connection with HPL was a “Geo E Lovecraft,” listed as having married 20 Nov 1890 in the county of Racine. *** The following three entries come as a result of a search on the Newspaper Archive.  At its annual meeting the Villa Site and Improvement Company elected F. A. Lovecraft as secretary, according to the New York Times, Tuesday, 14 November 1882. *** The same Times of 11 September, 1895 (p. 8) reported the suicide in St. Louis of Will R. Palmer, who was brother to A. M. Palmer, manager of a theatrical company then presenting Trilby (the one with Svengali). In closing the obituary, the paper notes that this was the third suicide from A. M. Palmer’s “forces” in two years, the first being Frederick A. Lovecraft. I wonder the where, the circumstances, and did HPL know about this. Was this Frederick the same who was listed as a jeweler in the city directory (above), or perhaps a son who in some way was attached to the thespian group? *** The Manitoba Morning Free Press of New York (Saturday, 31 March 1894) refers to a judge committing to probate a “Lovecraft will.”


The Quabbin Reservoir is one of the walks discussed in Fodor’s Short Escapes Near Boston (1999).


In the case Hogan v. DC Comics (48 Federal Supplement 2d 298; 26 January 1999), which deals with copyright infringement, one piece of evidence was the use of the name “Gaunt” appearing in the work of both plaintiff and defendant. The latter stated it was “a derivative of the name of a bat-like creature called a ‘nightgaunt’ that appears in the literature of science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft” (p. 307). The case was decided for the defendant.


I came across this Italian site advertising the book The Cosmical Horror of H.P. Lovecraft: A Pictorial Anthology. It includes material associated with illustrators, cartoonists, and directors. *** At a SoHo art show Jason D'Aquino had a thumb-nail pencil drawing of him in October, according to the New York Times. *** Said to be homage to “The Dunwich Horror,” an ink-and-acrylic by Jesse Bransford was at an art show in Atlanta. *** Black Lake Art states his influence.  *** Admitting to an HPL influence among several, tatooist Don Ed Hardy had a 40-year retrospective of his work in Santa Monica from December 1999 to January 2000. *** According to the New York Times, an October art show by “Spunky” included “thumbnail-size portraits of people like Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft” (19 October 2001, p. E39). 


What if his entities were real? This is the basis of Lovecraft by Keith Giffen and Enrique Breccia, who have based their story on a screenplay being developed by director John Carpenter. There is an interview with Giffen under "Interviews." *** Reportedly listing Lovecraft as an influence, Uzumaki (in Japanese meaning “spiral,” a thing of horror in the story) is a manga by Junji Ito.


Beyond the Wall of Sleep stars make-up man and actor Tom Savini. *** Director of Mimic (based on a story by Donald A. Wollheim), Guillermo Del Toro has new movies, The Devil's Backbone and Blade II. He’s so fond of HPL that he wants to do At the Mountains of Madness, which he described as "my epic horror film," the equivalent of director James Cameron’s Titanic. Two circumstances favor him. One is the benevolent fallout of the movie The Lord of the Rings, and the other, more directly practical, is the clout that should accrue to him from the commercial success of his new movies. I would have preferred another choice than ATMOM, for I side with the Gothicists rather than the science fictionalists.*** The Terrible Old Man premiered at the 6th annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in October 2001. *** Shades of Innsmouth! In this Stuart Gordon piece a couple is kidnapped by fish people from a town that had earlier sold its collective soul to Dagon. The Variety review of Dagon, Sect of the Sea compliments this “grisly coastal chiller combining horror and humor” for, among other things, its “strong atmospherics” that make for “an enjoyably mindless ride.” (Jonathan Holland, 17 December 2001, p. 37) *** The Second Century of Cinema: The Past and Future of the Moving Image (State University of New York Press, 2000) by Wheeler Winston Dixon contains an essay on film versions of HPL. 


On the ABC 6 News of Providence (station WLNE-TV) “Satanism expert” Edmund Pierce was interviewed about HPL on 4 March.


An excerpt from Notes on the Writing of Weird Fiction (as it appeared in Marginalia) is available from Gale’s electronic Student Resource Center. *** The inimitable Forrest J Ackerman has a reproduction of a handwritten note (from a book or magazine?) to him from HPL, who calls him “acutest of critics.” Since HPL called him a number of names, I wonder if this was the honeymoon phase, before the attack on CA Smith; or was it sarcasm?


The Secret Life of Puppets by Victoria Nelson has a chapter about him; it might be a reprint of the article she had in Raritan. In March at Brown University she lectured on him. *** “Tributo a Lovecraft” by critic Christopher Domínguez Michael appeared in Letras Libres (1/1/2000). 
The movie Before Night Falls received a best actor Oscar nomination. It was based on the autobiography of Cuban dissident author Reinaldo Arenas, about whom fellow writer Juan Abreu wrote in Reinaldo Arenas: A Memoir of 1974. The first chapter of this book is reprinted in the fall 2001 issue of Michigan Quarterly Review. So much for the bibliographical antecedents. Abreu wrote about Arenas hiding out (from the state) in sewers. “When I went to see him early in the morning, he would emerge as if from a page by Lovecraft; who, incidentally, is one of his favorite authors.” (p. 673) *** According to a New York Times book review (11 Nov.) of fantastic short stories, Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link, in one case “Miss Rhode Island turns out to be a squidlike entity out of H. P. Lovecraft.” *** He and William Faulkner are the influences of Michael Vance, who has written “Light’s End” stories. *** Caitlín Kieran refers both to him and Algernon Blackwood in a Publisher’s Weekly interview (12/03/01). *** No doubt thanks to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a French translation of Colin Wilson’s The Philosopher’s Stone (called La Pierre Philosophale) was reviewed in the new year’s first issue of Le Figaro, a major French language newspaper; the book was called a “signifiant hommage” to HPL. *** “Rick Wadholm's Astronomy is a Cthulhu Mythos story set at the end of WWII.” (Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (August 2001)) *** Ray Bradbury has received star 2,193 on Hollywood Boulevard and his book Fahrenheit 451 will be the focus of a month long reading campaign in Los Angeles.


There’s a petition on the homepage of “The H.P. Lovecraft Archive” to stop Carroll & Graf Publishers from marketing the Derleth posthumous collaborations as HPL’s.


Donald Wandrei and Family: An Inventory of Their Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society” offers some good descriptions of the papers’ contents. There’s also a fair amount about Howard, with much less about other family members.  Wandrei is accounted one of the forgotten Minnesotans according to the Brainerd Daily Dispatch. *** Long Memories. No, not Frank Belknap, but Amelia Reynolds Long, once of whose works produced the shivery Fiend Without A Face, which terrorized me when I saw it at the show in 1958. A website tribute to her has biographical information, a list of her short fiction, mystery novels, and poetry, an account of a visit to her written by former Ofian Chet Williamson, and more.  *** The Auburn Journal for 26 March states “Plans for creating a memorial to the late Clark Ashton Smith cleared a major hurdle Monday when the Auburn City Council voted unanimously to give its blessing to the idea.” A boulder on Smith’s property is to be moved to a park downtown and have a plaque put on it. 

“The Cats of Ulthar”

“It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat.” This would be an appropriate epigraph for the document “The Domestic Cat and the Law: A Guide to Available Resources.”
Review: The Complete H.P. Lovecraft Filmography by Charles P. Mitchell (Greenwood Press, 2001).
What makes a Lovecraft film? Charles P. Mitchell thinks he knows. Films reviewed are considered either faithful to an HPL story or inspired by him. Mitchell usually shows a fine knowledge of the field, though I take issues both with his explanation of the Cthulhu Mythos and its notorious “misuse of magic” quote, and in the case of The Manitou where there is no connection made between it and Henry S. Whitehead’s “Cassius,” whose genesis after all was suggested by HPL. He drags in a lot of horror movies that seem doubtful in their linkage—Night of the Living Dead? He credits the Stephen King-acted part of Creepshow (where King becomes a plant) as being a variant of “The Colour Out of Space”—what about William Hope Hodgson’s “A Voice in the Night”?Though he includes obscure films new to me, I think he omits some: for example, The Prince of Darkness—though he quotes its director, John Carpenter—and Le Cas Howard Phillips Lovecraft which, while a documentary, seemed worth at least a nod. On the other hand, he makes his points on some films to which I had not firmly considered Lovecraftian. 
Each film is rated from one to five stars, and there is a list of “key Lovecraft ingredients” preceding a list of the cast and a summary of the film, with analysis. Other sections are “performance,” “fidelity to Lovecraft,” and “representative quotes” from the movie. His is the knowledge of a movie buff; “Pier Angeli . . . died of an overdose while making the film [Octaman (1971)]” (p. 17). Mitchell has done his and other people’s homework, for he talks about edited out parts of films, as in the 1958 Caltiki, the Immortal Monster, which I haven’t seen in decades. When warranted he mentions an obscurity (to me) like the HPL- inspired The Big Fish.I don’t agree with several of his justifications, and at times he recognizes the weakness of his contention; he considers that Castle Freak was taken from “The Outsider,” then admits “but the entire structure of the film is almost the antithesis of The Outsider” (p. 56); and “Although an unqualified success, The Dunwich Horror has a number of blemishes as well” (p. 86). Other comparisons seem shaky, as “The drone dog [in Phantoms] … is reminiscent of the Hounds of Tindalos” (p. 168). Nor would I find evidence that a tentacular beast is ipso facto inspired by HPL’s imagination. Some judgment calls are questionable; of the three films I have seen in the Quartermass series, the best, Five Million Years to Earth, seems closer in spirit to HPL than Enemy From Space, the one chosen to receive full-length treatment. 

Even where some background information should persuade me, as about The Crimson Cult, (e.g., “the picture had been originally titled Witch House” (p. 66)), it is called into question by the accompanying credits supplied in this book that state the movie was “based on the novella Dreams in the Witch-House.” This is wrong (as proved by the original review, with absence from the credits, in Variety), for like The Farm, it does not include any mention of HPL; while there has been a tradition of speculation about the connection between the film and the novella, this is not proof, which is not to deny that at least The Farm is an unacknowledged Lovecraft adaptation, as based on the movie’s story and viewing.

A pronouncement about The Haunted Palace argues “the idea, however, of having a rattlesnake nesting in the kitchen of any abandoned building in New England is totally ludicrous” (p. 131); but there are such serpents in this region. However, he makes a hit with his remark that in The Resurrected the change to the name of “Ash” (from “Dr. Allan” in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) is appropriate, “considering that Curwen had just been raised from his own ashes” (p. 180). (Mitchell also feels the same as me about the greater faithfulness of the film to its text in comparison with other Lovecraft adaptations.) One curious typo I noticed is a reference to “Massachusetts residents who wanderi around” (p. 142).

There are four appendices, of which the first treats three foreign films, giving them a paragraph apiece. The Japanese is based on “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” the Chilean on “Pickman’s Model,” and the French(?) on several tales. The other appendices review amateur Lovecraft films, his television presence, and stories by him and others that the author believes should be made into films. 

This book could start any number of arguments about what makes a Lovecraft film.

Little(?) Sam Perkins

Sam Perkins is a basketball player of 6-9 and 260 lbs. 

Sez I

Mailing 116
Ben: The longer people are dead, the more likely they will be forgotten—or become legendary. Derleth is the latter, so I took a greater interest in his letters to you than if he had remained alive. Thanks for publishing them; I think he comes across in them both favorably—as in concern for other writers—and humanly, not the obnoxious ego attributed to him. 
Ken: You note that you got to visit the Samuel Mudd House. On the other side, I went to the Dry Tortugas recently and got to see Samuel Mudd’s cell, a stone chamber compensated by windows that offer a good view of the ocean which surrounds Fort Jefferson. Mudd was never officially cleared of suspicions, and to this day descendants such as news correspondent Roger Mudd work to have his conviction overturned.
Derrick: Thanks much for taking notes about the Lovecraft conference. I enjoyed reading about it and was spurred to several reflections. Some of the interpretations are stretchers, such as Cthulhu’s reassembly of itself representing correlated contents. Yours may be the only record of events in existence, since the proceedings were not published. *** Who is James A. Anderson? I disagree with him a lot. Is the title “The Rats in the Walls” as peculiar as he suggests? While it is arresting to consider that Delapore “becomes a cannibalistic rat-man” (shades of Brown Jenkin) rat-her than a degeneration into a rat, I’ve always imagined that he became something like a prehistoric forebear, something ape-like. This has a scientific credulity. Moreover, the idea of interbreeding with rats is not supported by the chisel marks that came “from beneath” (a line that adds a wonderful bit of frisson), unless we have to assume a race of anthropomorphic rodents already established and able to use tools. Yet, I find myself wavering. One reading not mentioned is that the present-day rats and much of the action is the fantasy of a madman. As to Pickman (in “Pickman’s Model”) learning that he is a monster, I suspect that this was not a self-discovery, for witness his painting where a changeling child is seated at a table with a human family.
John: It was great to be able to read in one place all of King’s comments on HPL from Danse Macabre. I used to go through the book, looking for these, and voila, plus your own enjoyable annotations. I like a lot of what you said. But you are uncharitable to take as a given that Lovecraft’s reputation is an obstacle to SK, “if just in King’s own eyes.” Also, I don’t think “Cool Air” is a poor example among Lovecraft’s stories to demonstrate the theme of immortality. *** To expand on what you said about horror as opposed to terror stories, with Bloch shifting to horror: a majority of horror stories could be classed as crime stories, since they concern bodily harm—and at best psychological harm—to the characters. That a criminal is given supernatural powers does not stop him from being one. *** I’ve read the Tennessee Williams story “The Vengeance of Nitocris” in The Pulps and I suspect it is Lovecraftian only if Egyptian gods are considered so.

Ben S.: I looked at your “hpl-eod.tripod.com” page. When can readers expect to see articles, interviews, reviews, etc.? *** The surname “Coffin” (as in “Goburro Coffin”) is not rare. Looking in a database, I’ve discovered over 3600 hits for just authors. The first name is a totally different story. *** It may be a tribute to HPL’s story-telling ability to wonder what did happen afterward. Perhaps that would water down the effect of the story. As in real life, there is no ending until one’s death. *** The idea for a new format or themed mailings is worthwhile, but getting cooperation from Ofians is like herding cats. *** Your beloved Hellboy may become a film starring Ron Perlman and directed by Guillermo del Toro, who may be doing At the Mountains of Madness. Interesting, what?

David S.: How do you determine that approximately “160” letters were written to Smith by HPL? Mathematics? Seeing the letters themselves? A list of receipts by one of the pair? *** A major reason for his New York exile—which you write about in your splendid introduction—was his failure to break with his childhood, which was twined round Providence. Then, again, I wonder what would have happened if his aunts had chosen to move to New York. Perhaps he would have reconciled himself much better to his new address. We will never know. *** I anticipated that this collection (From the Pest Zone) would be the few stories in which New York was the setting, but no. *** There’s a contradiction when you call “The Shunned House” “the best of Lovecraft’s New York stories,” but later state “Cool Air” is “the most successful of Lovecraft’s New York stories.” There’s a delicacy of distinction here that I am missing. *** While Derleth may have been fond of “In the Vault,” so were others, as witness its anthology appearances, one of which was very early, 1941 in The Other Worlds—and my intro to HPL!

Mailing 117

Ben: I have also forgotten that I contributed something in print. I was once reading a letter to the editor, and found myself agreeing with it. I discovered why when I read my name at the end (kind of like “The Shadow Out of Time”).

R. Alain: I wonder if Lovecraft’s remark “There’s a Bantu in the woodpile” was what passed for wit? I forget in what movie in the 1930’s W. C. Fields made the same sort of “euphemism” joke (i.e., using highfaluting words); to wit, “There’s an Ethiopian in the fuel supply.” Hearers would have gotten the actual meaning, since if it had been too esoteric, it wouldn’t have been understood by a movie audience.

John G.: I was in England, heading for the Lakes district, when I saw a sign beside the road that designated the distance to a place called Askham, and of course I immediately thought of Arkham. An influence? I understand that the consensus opinion identifies Arkham with Salem. Also, why should the “thing” of “The Unnamable” be a foreshadow of “The Dunwich Horror”? *** The Arkham of “The Silver Key” could equally well have been idealized rather then demonized, so it need not have been a representation of his state of mind. Yours is a good, enjoyable article.

David D. You mention the typos in your Servant of the Dragon. I recently finished reading George Orwell’s 1934 novel, still in print, Burmese Days. Seeing that it is a classic and been around a while, you’d have thought the typos would have been baked out of it by this time. No. I found mis-spelled words, words turned round in a sentence, and other errors.

John H.: I agree with most of what you say in response to Don B. If one states the premise that life surely exists in the universe, and if life exists there must be advanced civilizations, and that this in turn means there have been visits to Earth—then I would come back with the equally possible scenario that, given visits, we should have met these beings by now. Otherwise, we have them coming but refusing to make themselves known. The logic breaks down. (“I’ve traveled a trillion light years, but I am not interested enough to make contact with the inhabitants.”) *** Don’t be discouraged by a few rejections. You have a worthwhile product. *** Thanks for the listing by author of stories from Magazine of Horror and other titles. I was a subscriber to MOH and remember the kick I got, round ’64, when I got my first issue, #13, with the giant spider on the cover, with the lead-off story by H.F. Scotten, “The Thing in the House.” (There are some unfortunate misprints in your list, as under Cahill—the first word “The” should be “They.”) *** Scanning this list I recall that I have a fondness for Paul Ernst.

Derrick: In your radio interview you state that “The Shadow Out of Time” was HPL’s “last major story.” What does that make “The Haunter of the Dark”—chopped liver?

The Pulps

Had I the ambition, one project I would take on is a survey of folks in their eighties, or thereabouts, and ask them to name the pulps they read, for those that did. Fate threw me together with a gentleman of this age bracket, and I did ask him if he read the pulps. What he remembered was not titles but characters: the curiously named “Shark Gotch” and his nemesis, Larsen of Singapore. I followed up on this and discovered that this character appeared in Action Stories, 1928. A story about him was written by Albert Richard Wetjen, who appears in E. Hoffman Price’s Book of the Dead. The Vintage Library offers for sale a collection of Wetjen stories, The White Shark,  as well as chapbooks by Price and others.


In Supernatural Horror in Literature he states “George Macdonald's Lilith has a compelling
bizarrerie all its own.” Ye-es, it is a peculiar work that I have recently read, with Christian elements in characters such as Adam and Eve; though especially in the earlier parts there are unsettling things, beasts of nightmare, which reminded me ofThe Night Land. Chapter with such titles as “The Bad Burrow” give a flavor of this. But you may gag slightly from the children called “The Little Ones,” vaguely like the Ewoks of Star Wars. Lilith is available online. 

Do the Tcho-Tcho people travel by train?

This has been the 33rd issue of The Criticaster (Spring, 2002, mailing 118) by Steve Walker. Published eventually on the Net as The Limbonaut (no.4).