“Personally, I would not care for immortality in the least. There is nothing better than oblivion, since in oblivion there is no wish unfulfilled. We had it before we were born yet did not complain. Shall we whine because we know it will return? It is Elysium enough for me, at any rate.”
– H.P. Lovecraft
Most authors are lucky if they are well known and widely read in their own lifetime. Once they die their work usually fades into obscurity. Some very lucky authors manage to write works that are both popular during their lifetime and remain so once they pass on. It’s a strange kind of luck to be an author whose work is mostly obscure during ones lifetime yet that work becomes relatively popular and well read decades after that author’s death.
Hello Howard Phillips Lovecraft. A strangely lucky man.
There are many roads to Carcosa. Some are paved with good intentions. Others with yellow brick. Some are familiar shortcuts. Many take a winding, even scenic route. Once you arrive you never really leave. Or perhaps Carcosa never leaves you.
Lovecraft described some of his creations in great detail. Others are described in ways that are give the reader a vague sense of the thing and leave the specifics to his/her imagination. And others are left as vague eldritch monstrosities, barely comprehensible to the human mind. Shub Niggurath is one of those. So she (it) can be depicted however seems most appropriate.
“Words could not adequately convey the repulsiveness of the thing. It was endowed with a trunk and great, uneven ears, and two enormous tusks protruded from the corners of its mouth. But it was not an elephant. Indeed, its resemblance to an actual elephant was, at best, sporadic and superficial, despite certain unmistakable points of similarity. The ears were webbed and tentacled, the trunk terminated in a huge flaring disk at least a foot in diameter, and the tusks, which intertwined and interlocked at the base of the statue, were as translucent as rock crystal.”
One of the reasons that I’m so fond of the so-called Cthulhu Mythos is its breadth and diversity. H.P. Lovecraft may have originated it but it has long since outgrown his writings. Howard Belknap Long was a writer who added to the Mythos during Lovecraft’s lifetime. His most notable creations are the Hounds of Tindalos and the fellow above, Chaugnar Faugn. All of Lovecraft’s work is in the public domain, easily found and therefore easily read. Long’s work is still under copyright and, because Long has not retained a lot of posthumous popularity, requires some effort to track down. As far as I can tell, the Seattle Library has nothing by him in its collections. As such, I haven’t read The Horror from the Hills, the story that first features Chaugnar Faugn.
But what the hell, I have read T.E.D. Klein‘s Black Man with a Horn, featuring a version of Chaugnar Faugn that only vaguely resembles the original, and I felt like drawing an eldritch abomination so … here he is.
Back in 2011 I illustrated two stories for THE AKLONOMICON, an anthology of Lovecraftian stories and poems. The print run of the book was very limited and it has long since sold out. Sadly (for me) I only have a PDF of the book, not a print version. PDFs and ebooks may be the way most things get published (now and) in the future but I can’t put them on my shelves so they just don’t seem real.
Below is my illustration for “If Company Should Come” by Edward Morris. I don’t think the story has seen print yet anywhere else. That’s unfortunate. Ed is fine fellow and his way with words makes me very very jealous.