As I was looking at indie publishers for Satanic Hell, I was initially shocked at the globs of zombie comics still being released. But with the continuing success of the Walking Dead, it’s not surprising. The show and movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland helped make our undead brethren mainstream and thus zombie comics became the new superhero comics – they were everywhere. As a fan, I think the zombie explosion overall has been great but I’ve shied away from the genre out of fatigue over reading yet-another-zombie origin story and tale of survival. I do occasionally find a zombie comic with a new twist (check out FUBAR for some well-written historical zombie action), but as a creator, I’m going to pause before working on the next Barbie Zombie Death March comic. Not only is competition stiff, but there’s only so many zombie apocalypses readers can survive.
That gets into the next foreboding trend. Cthulhu comics. Lovecraftian comics. To be clear, I would move to Innsmouth in a heartbeat if I knew how to locate it with a GPS and I would sacrifice people – mostly rich Republicans – to trade for fish gold on Devil Reef so I could make comics every day and mate with fish-frogs so that my offspring could live forever with Dagon, Cthulhu and all the Old Bastards. And based on my anecdotal research, it seems I’m not the only one having strange dreams about squid monsters and secret societies.
Yes, Cthulhu seems to be popping up like elder signs across the cultural landscape. Lovecraft-themed comics abound, such as Dirk Manning’s fantastic series “Nightmare World” and “Tales of Mr. Rhee,” which he started well before the current craze. Jim Zub’s cranium stompin’ “Skull Kickers” has enough squid in it to supply a thousand Greek festivals. More recently, Action Lab’s “Herald” has Lovecraft and Tesla fighting Cthulhu, Ben Templesmith does “The Squidder,” Richard Corben has his “Rat God” and there are many more. Self-publishers are joining the cult too. Craig Engler’s “Lovecraft” launch on Kickstarter raised $54,000. For some eldritch art and Cthulhu humor, check out “Dos Paginas” by Kim Holm, who also does a version of “Pickman’s Model.” You also may have run across the “Lovecraft is Missing” web comics.
We’ve seen the influence of the Old Ones in the success of best-selling weird fiction authors like China Mieville and Niel Gaiman (see “Lovecraft’s Monsters”). Even Steven King, long a fan of HPL, has a recent novel with Miskatonic themes called “Revival.” Now we have CthuluCons, film festivals and the inevitable genre Cthulhu Punk. Microsoft Word even recognizes that Cthulhu is not a spelling error. Minions of the no-longer secret Order of HPL can stay updated with all things from beyond at Lovecraft eZine. Get on Etsy and you can buy a stone idol, Cthulhu coins, pages from the Necronomicon (I bought some!), Cthulu knitted hats, plush dolls, Cthulhu pedicure nails, cufflinks… Hell, not too long ago I backed a C is For Cthulhu board book on Kickstarter for a child I don’t even have yet! Now there’s Kidthulu too. You get the point. Basically, it’s a fun time to be a Lovecraft fan.
Based on these regular Lovecraftian sightings across webpages, comics, and podcasts, I am pretty sure we are in the midst of a rising Cthulhu tsunami, or at least we’re on the cusp of it. How soon before the market is flooded with SuperBoobs vs Cthulhu, Jesus Hates Dagon, and How I Shogged a Shoggoth (I like that last one. Copyrighted.) I’m thinking two years before a big budget Cthulhu movie or TV series comes out. Maybe we’ll even see a theme park (I would go). So what’s the Lovecraft-loving creator to do? Ride the tentacles and try to become the Robert Kirkman of Cthulhu comics or form a new ghastly cult? Both paths seem viable at this point, as long as you’re being creative. I lean toward creating something new as the Cthulhu-angle becomes increasingly ubiquitous. If dark desire leads you down the Lovecraft road, proceed with caution. We may be nearing that fine point between where fans seek out a genre because they can’t get enough of it and the moment when fans become tired of a worn-out world. How many squid beasts trying to destroy the world can a reader handle before madness sets in? For now, I’m enjoying it and participating a bit, as there are some Cthulhu references in my comic book series Satanic Hell. Four, I believe. Well, technically five. But one is a reference of someone else’s reference. If you read it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Anyway, ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu whuddayuth’ink?