Corner-booth Blog #2 - Anachrocon 2013 Recap & Lovecraft Vs. Cthulhu panel

Posted by Jonathan Chaffin on

Anachrocon 2013 was only our second time out vending as Horror In Clay.  Most of our "booth" is repurposed gear from our basement tike bar.  Our adventure began loading up the minivan to the roof with mugs, shirts, jiggers, stickers, and fezzes (for this con we were an official reseller for Fez-O-Rama fezzes. Made in America, by folks who know fine haberdashery.  

Load in and setup in went smoothly Thursday night, aided by our friends and minions (frinions?) Lucky and Tang.  Thanks guys!  Those lovely stalwarts also opened the booth for us and vended on Friday.  (Tang even did some tweeting and facebooking about the experience).  Saturday and Sunday Allison and I lived at Anachrocon, which was much fun.  We were bracketed by the lovely people at Wolfhome Constuming (great gear for sale, and man can one of those ladies BAKE) and by Aardvark Tees (they have some really funny shirts, my fav being a Dr. Who shirt inspired by the episode "Don't Blink").  We were also over by the bathroom ("take a right by Cthulhu" to go to the loo).  

Horror In Clay was proud to sponsor the Classic Horror Track.  Highlights from the vending room include being accosted by a guy in a Cthulhu mask made of balloons, lots of gorgeous steampunk attire, weaving things out of Twizzlers (tentacles) and of course talking about and selling our Horror In Clay wares.  Much fun was had by all, and we look forward to doing it again next year.

I was invited to speak on a panel called Lovecraft vs. Cthulhu by Horror Track director Derek Tatum.  The panelists included
James R. Tuck (writer), Eddie Coulter (writer),  Mark Helwig (artist), and of course myself Jonathan Chaffin (artist).
The moderator was Clay Gilbert (writer).

Here is an expansion of some notes I scribbled on a scrap of cardboard taken from a box of swizzles during the panel.

The panel focused on differences between HPL and his followers both contemporary (like Robert E Howard and August Derleth) and modern (like Stephen King, Brian Lumley, Robert Bloch to name but a few of the horde), on differences between HPLs Mythos and non-mythos work, and on Cthulhlu's emergence as a pop culture icon and HPLs probable feelings on that (we suspected bafflement mixed with irritation.)  It's hard for me personally to imagine Howard and his long gaunt New England chin being thrilled about the idea.

A few differences between HPL and his followers:
1. HPL had no HOP....E. The earth was insignificant, people were insignificant, once you opened the door your mind/body was forfeit and what ever was on the other side probably wouldn't notice, much less care. Later writers set up balances and opposing forces that could provide some hope of making it through.

2. There were still external terrestrial frontiers being achieved regularly. Hilary, the Antarctic, etc; latter-day writers were necessarily changed by the effects of world war, space exploration, etc. 

3. Once the door was opened in an HPL story, you were screwed. There are maybe three stories where the main character makes it out alive and sane. Later authors are much more likely to let their survivors out.

4. Women. HPL didn't write them, and rarely did they make an appearance (of course, he was raised sorta like Norman Bates, so what
would you expect).

5. Humor or eroticism, actually present in other writers...I've yet to find an HPL counter example, although I haven't dug into that topic much yet.

A few differences between HPL's Mythos and non-mythos work:
Non-mythos = paranoid/cynical attitude about humanity 

Cthulhu mythos = qualities of general Lovecraft fiction with a darkly cosmic focus and a sense of the universe as disinterested in humanity/hostile to humanity.  HPL gets rather gets swallowed up in the Mythos because the Mythos is an easy thing for people to glom onto--i.e. cosmic monsters.

Other topics of interest:
Cthulhu, Dagon, Deep Ones might be so widely discussed/depicted in art (a contributing factor to their popularity) because they are concrete, more like kaiju, and easier to conceive (and pronounce).

Chaosium RPG supplements helped seed the mythos far and wide by functioning as "What if" scenarios that got a lot of exposure.

Non-Lovecraft Lovecraftian Horrors:
In the Mouth of Madness
John Carpenter's The Thing
Inhumanoids (Didn't mention this on the panel, but I wanted to, the monster Tendril is where I trace a lot of my personal affinity for both Cthulhu and Godzilla)

Homework list (for me personally, but feel free to play along at home…love to hear your thoughts):
Movie "Late Bloomer"

Story "The Big Head"

Movie "Cast a Deadly Spell"

Cartoon "Dead Space"

HPL Documentary "Fear of the Unknown"

Cartoon "Inhumanoids" 

Short Stories "Cthulhurotica"

Cartoon "The Adventures of Little Cthulhu"

If any of my fellow panelists or audience members want to add other stuff we talked about, I'd love to get it down. Next time; video camera.

Hope you've enjoyed this edition of the Corner-booth at Pickman's Cove blog!

•"Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun."

Thanks to the panel moderator, Clay Gilbert, and to Derek Tatum for inviting me onto the panel!

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