Friday, March 23, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.82: Elder Sign Protective Ward

There are some words best left unspoken - and some books best left unread.

To those ends, a cabal of sorcerers (located somewhere in Eastern Europe) forged for me this bronze Elder Sign protective ward. By its power are prying eyes averted from the monstrous secrets contained between the covers of my notebook - secrets bequethed to me through dealings with those Nameless Powers and Potentates which gnaw mindlessly upon the barrier between worlds, or otherwise wrested from the depths of those nighted, dimensionless abysses which lurk beyond the realm of the visible...

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.81: Electric Wizard, ‘Witchcult Today’

A few years back (2013,to be precise), I had the good fortune to be present at a conference organised by James Machin entitlef The Weird: Fugitive Fictions/Hybrid Genres. Whilst there I listened to a fascinating paper on drone metal, weird fiction, and religion, which in turn introduced me to the very wonderful back catalogue of Dunsanian drone metal band, Bong.

More recently I discovered Electric Wizard; whilst apparently categorised as ‘doom metal’ rather than drone, Electric Wizard seem to fall into stylisticly similar category to that of Bong (at least to my untrained ears), trading in a comparable aural commodity by way of grinding, heavy, repetitive riffs and broadly related (though not overlapping) themes; with regard to the latter, whilst Bong tend to focus on spacey Dunsanian weird cosmicism, Electric Wizard is more your 1970s psychedelic folk horror by way of The Devil Rides Out.

In any case, Electric Wizard’s Witchcult Today is the focus of today’s Lovecraftian Thing. Whilst they certainly don’t qualify as an explicitly ‘Lovecraftian’ band, there is definitely a Lovecraft vibe to Electric Wizard’s musical stylings, which to me feel like a lost soundtrack to Roger Corman’s 1970s adaptation of The Dunwich Horror - with regard to which, Witchcult Today does contain a very fine track entitled ‘Dunwich’.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.80: Cthulhu Tales

Cthulhu Tales is a recently-released storytelling game by Cubicle 9 which I backed on Kickstarter some time ago. Whilst the box cover isn’t especially appealing from the standpoint of its visual aesthetics, the internal components are rather nice, including a large number of attractive, full-colour storytelling cards depicting themes and scenes of Lovecraftian horror. Whilst the game rules as they stand aren’t immediately solitaire friendly, I could envisage Cthulhu Tales being adapted and repurposed as a means of constructing randomised solitaire scenarios for something like the Call of Cthulhu rpg - so for now this one is going into my conceptual toolbox, with a view to developing it further for use with my speculative Lovecraftian solitaire rpg.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.79: Horrid Little Idol

Less than an inch in height, this tiny idol - depicting in carven wood some nameless horror from the Elder Time - was discovered on my doorstep earlier in the day, wrapped in a thin sheet of pale yellow tissue paper inscribed with curious symbols. Recognising the monstrous provenance of those glyphs, I quickly ensconced the horrid little idol in a dusty corner of my cabinet of curiousities - where, I hope, its baleful influence will remain bound (at least for the forseeable future) by multifarious sigils of warding and apotropaic devices of diverse kinds.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.78: Bronze Squid

I discovered a bunch of tiny bronze squid charms on ebay going for a couple of quid last week, which turned up at the weeked; not Lovecraftian in and of themselves - but I’m using one of them (attached to a bit of bronze chain) as a bookmark as I try to ‘Lovecraftify’ my olive Midori traveler’s notebook by way of adding various weird accoutrements to it.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.77: Dagon (in memoriam of Carl T. Ford)

Dagon made a previous appearance in 2016s Lovecraftian Thing a Day, but with the sad passing of Carl T. Ford - Dagon’s creator, publisher and editor - towards the end of 2017, it seems appropriate once more to recognise the significance of this Lovecaftian ‘zine one more time (with different issues on display to those used in the 2016 post).

I bought what I now believe to be the very first issue of Dagon (which, sadly, I no longer possess) during a visit to the original Games Workshop in Dalling Road, Hammersmith, sometime between  1983-84; at that point it was principally dedicated to the Call of Cthulhu rpg. However, by the mid-1980s, Dagon had expanded its remit to focus increasingly on Lovecraftian fiction whilst also significantly upping the ante when it came to production values, with glossy card frontcovers showcasing some of the best in then-current Lovecraftian art; the interiors were also increasingly lavised with (usually) high-end art, and Dagon attracted contributions by notable genre writers such as Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, T.E.D Klein, and Thomas Ligotti. I became a regular purchaser of Dagon around this time when, during my first year at University in 1987, I discovered the T.E.D. Klein 18-19 double issue at Games Workshop in Leeds (the connection between the weird fiction renaissance and role-playing games is, indeed, a significant one which I hope to comment on at a later date). Dagon ceased publication three years later with issue 27.

I can’t overemphasise how significant Dagon was to me in terms of my personal journey of discovery of the UK Lovecraftian/Weird Fiction scene during this period - a time when things Lovecaft-related were very sparse on the ground indeed (especially where mainstream bookshops and publshing were concerned); were it not for Dagon (and later, Stephen Jones’ annual Best New Horror anthology), I would not have become aware of writers like Wagner, Ligotti or Klein - or homegrown talent such as D.F. Lewis and Mark Samuels - until much later.

Equally important was the fact that specialist bookshops and mail-order sellers such as The House on the Borderland, The Fantasy Centre, and Kadath Press were also advertised their wares in the zine’s pages, opening up multiple opportunities for purchasing otherwise-unavailable small press publications (although I have to apolgise to Facebook friends Mick Lyons of Kadath Press and Dave Brzeski of The House on the Borderland retrospectively, for not making more use of their services - The Fantasy Centre tended to be my principle port of call during regular family visits to London back in the day). Now that we seem to be reaching peak Cthulhu in terms of the vast number of books and anthologies currently available - many of which are immediately downloadable - I suspect that new fans of Lovecaftian fiction will have difficulty undersanding what it was like in those glorious pre-internet days!

In any case, thank you Carl T. Ford for all your efforts in the early days of the UK resurgence of all things Lovecraftian. Wherever you are now, I hope you rest easy.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.76: ‘Sticks’ by Dave Carson

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, this is a signed print by Dave Carson, illustrating Karl Edward Wagner’s British Fantasy Award-winning short story of Lovecraftian horror, ‘Sticks’ (the story itself was inspired by the strange, stick-like motifs which appear in some of the work of Weird Tales illustrator Lee Brown Coye, who also provided the covers for some of Arkham House’s early Lovecraft collections).

I seem to recall picking this up in the late 1990s from Arkham - a shop in Brighton, UK, which used to specialise in weird and Lovecaftian art and ephemera - when Dave Carson had a small exhibition on there, but I’m not entirely certain of this.