Cthulhu is Growing Impatient for Your Arrival!

Aug 7, 2015 by

“Our tangible world is only an atom in a fabric vast and ominous, and that
unknown demesnes press on and permeate the sphere of the known at every point . . .”

Lovecraft

If you’re at PulpFest 2015 on Friday evening, August 14th, you’ll probably be in our programming area, listening to author Chet Williamson, the convention’s guest of honor, explaining how “the old gentleman” of Providence influenced him in his writing. Later, Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last living artist who contributed covers to the original run of WEIRD TALES, will talk about his career. Closing out the evening will be a pair of panels — a FarmerCon presentation examining “The Weird Tales of Philip José Farmer” and PulpFest‘s main panel of the evening, “The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos.” The evening ends with a showing of THE CALL OF CTHULHUIt will be followed by COOL AIR, a short film made for ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY and based on the Lovecraft work of the same title. It originally aired in 1971.

On Saturday, our celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft continues at PulpFest 2015. We’ll be turning our attention to WEIRD TALES, the pulp magazine where the bulk of the horror master’s work was originally published.

During our afternoon programming, we welcome a talented group of today’s fictioneers — the scribes and word-slingers who are creating the new pulp fiction — to discuss the writers and stories published by “The Unique Magazine,” the genres it helped to generate, and how WEIRD TALES has influenced contemporary writers. It’s called “The Heirs of WEIRD TALES” and promises to be the most fantastic “new pulp” panel we’ve ever assembled.

Back around the beginning of May, Feral House, a small press with a taste for the outrageous, approached PulpFest with an offer that was very difficult to refuse. Author and collector Mike Hunchback had put together a definitive survey of the later work of illustrator Lee Brown Coye and was interested in presenting a slide show of the artist’s work at this year’s PulpFest. Given that our convention was celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of author H. P. Lovecraft, we jumped at the chance to have Mike be part of our 2015 conference. After all, Coye, like Lovecraft, was very strongly associated with “The Unique Magazine, “ WEIRD TALES. Join Mike Hunchback at 2:30 PM for “Pulp Macabre — The Art of Lee Brown Coye” in the PulpFest programming room on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Columbus.

Our afternoon programming concludes with “Weird Prose and Poetry from Scott H. Urban,” readings of poems and fiction, both old and new. Scott promises to leave the bubbling chaos at home; however, he cannot guarantee that there will not be writhing tentacles and the ensuing loss of sanity.

PulpFest‘s WEIRD TALES programming continues at 7:55 PM with “Weird Editing at ‘The Unique Magazine,’” a panel presentation featuring Lovecraftian and pulp scholars discussing the editorial policies of WEIRD TALES, concentrating particularly on the era of its best-known editor, Farnsworth Wright.

Closing out the evening at 11:30 PM, will be an authorized showing of THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESSa film produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It will be paired with PROFESSOR PEABODY’S LAST LECTUREan episode from ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY that originally aired in 1971.

And don’t forget PulpFest now has a gaming track. This year, it will be centered around CALL OF CTHULHU and other games inspired by the work of H. P. Lovecraft.

There’s still time to join the celebration! There may even be some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/  and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. The Hyatt Regency where the convention is taking place is totally booked. So what are you waiting for? Book a room and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The quotation that begins our post is from “The Descendant,” written by H. P. Lovecraft. It is a story fragment believed to have been written in 1927. It was first published in 1938 in the journal LEAVES, following Lovecraft’s death.

The photograph above, dated 1915 and taken by an unknown photographer, is from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.)

Cthulhu Waits for You!

Jul 30, 2015 by

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn . . .
In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

Cthulhu Rising

If you’re at PulpFest 2015 on August 13th, you’ll probably be in our programming area, enjoying our showing of OUT OF MIND: THE STORIES OF H. P. LOVECRAFTIt will be followed by PICKMAN’S MODEL, a short film made for ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY and based on the Lovecraft work of the same title. It originally aired in 1971.

On Friday, August 14th, the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft begins in earnest at PulpFest 2015.

Our Lovecraftian festivities begin in the afternoon with a pair of readings from today’s fictioneers — the scribes and word-slingers who are creating the new pulp fiction. Join us at 1 PM for “Swords Against Cthulhu,” featuring the horror fiction of Jason Scott Aiken. It will be followed at 2 PM by “Hardboiled Horrors,” with new fiction from John Hegenberger.

Shortly before 8 PM, author Chet Williamson, the convention’s guest of honor, will explain how “the old gentleman” of Providence influenced him in his writing as well as the writing of his peers in the world of modern horror fiction. Next, Jon Arfstrom, perhaps the last living artist who contributed covers to the original run of WEIRD TALES — the magazine that published most of Lovecraft’s original fiction — will talk about his career with pulp art historian, David Saunders.

Our programming continues at 9:10 PM with a FarmerCon panel presentation examining “The Weird Tales of Philip José Farmer.” It will be followed immediately by PulpFest‘s main panel of the evening, “The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos,” featuring a panel of Lovecraftian and pulp scholars, discussing Lovecraft’s best-known contribution to the fields of science fiction and fantasy — the cycle of stories centered around Cthulhu and other cosmic entities.

Closing out the evening at 11:30 PM, will be an authorized showing of THE CALL OF CTHULHUa film produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It will be paired with COOL AIR, an episode from ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY that originally aired in 1971.

And don’t forget PulpFest now has a gaming track. This year, it will be centered around CALL OF CTHULHU and other games inspired by the work of H. P. Lovecraft.

There’s still time to join the celebration! There may even be some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please visit www.pulpfest.com/2015/06/16872/  and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. The Hyatt Regency where the convention is taking place is totally booked. So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.”

(The quotation that begins our post is from “The Call of Cthulhu,” written by H. P. Lovecraft. It was first published in WEIRD TALES in its February 1928 issue.

Published in 2006 by Fantasy Flight Games, THE ART OF H. P. LOVECRAFT’S CTHULHU MYTHOS  collects the best art from Fantasy Flight’s acclaimed CALL OF CTHULHU collectible card game, as well as from 25 years of Chaosium’s legendary line of CALL OF CTHULHU role-playing game. Michael Komarck created the dust jacket for the collection. Please click the red “schedule” button on our home page to learn more about PulpFest’s new gaming track.)

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The Call of Cthulhu and the Lovecraft Mythos

Jul 6, 2015 by

Tales of the Cthulhu MythosDuring the late summer of 1926, H. P. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu.” Initially rejected by WEIRD TALES editor Farnsworth Wright, it was first published in “The Unique Magazine” in its February 1928 issue. Although three related stories predated it — “The Nameless City,” “The Hound,” and “The Festival” — in what has come to be known as “The Cthulhu Mythos,” “The Call of Cthulhu” is a seminal work of its author. As writer and Lovecraft correspondent Fritz Leiber observed, “Here for the first time, Lovecraft moves horror from the realm of Earth to the stars.”

In the years remaining to Lovecraft following the publication of “The Call of Cthulhu,” he expanded on its themes in such tales as “The Whisperer in Darkness,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” and “The Shadow Out of Time,” depicting a universe of mind-numbing horror that was a reflection of his own materialistic atheism. During this period, Lovecraft invited other writers to pen their own tales using the “synthetic folklore” he had created. “I think it is rather good fun to have this artificial mythology given an air of verisimilitude by wide citation.” Some of the authors who responded with their own “Cthulhu” fiction were Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, Henry Kuttner, and August Derleth.

“All of our gang frequently allude to the pet daemons of the others — thus Smith uses my Yog-Sothoth, while I use his Tsathoggua. Also, I sometimes insert a devil or two of my own in the tales I revise or ghost-write for professional clients. Thus our black pantheon acquires an extensive publicity & pseudo-authoritativeness it would not otherwise get.”

In later years, particularly following the death of “the old gentleman,” August Derleth worked to expand Lovecraft’s so-called “mythos,” albeit shaping it in a way that some scholars claim to be a corruption of the original author’s intent. Derleth’s “Cthulhu Mythos,” as the story-type came to be known, shifted away from Lovecraft’s nihilistic universe toward a more “good versus evil” backdrop. Other writers, notably Lin Carter and Brian Lumley, continued this process, basing their work on what Lovecraftian scholars have labeled, “the black magic quote,” purportedly written by Lovecraft:

“All my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on one fundamental lor or legend: that this world was inhabited an one time by another race, who in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside, ever ready to take possession of this earth again.”

Although Derleth may have corrupted Lovecraft’s “synthetic folklore,” twisting it away from its author’s intent, he also helped to popularize Lovecraft’s fiction through his Arkham House Publishers, significantly expanding Lovecraft’s reputation. The New Englander’s visions increasingly came under the microscope of academia and amateur scholars. His fiction became more widely read and popular, leading to adaptations in a variety of media including motion pictures, television, comic books, role-playing and video games, and even action figures and other toys. His stories are known the world over and though he lived much of his life in poverty, Lovecraft’s words and ideas have been transformed into a multi-million-dollar industry.

Call of Cthulhu One-SheetAs part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of H. P. Lovecraft, PulpFest 2015 is proud to welcome John D. Haefele, author of A LOOK BEHIND THE DERLETH MYTHOSa critically acclaimed account of the birth of the Cthulhu Mythos; Don Herron, editor of the scholarly landmark, THE DARK BARBARIAN, and winner of the 2006 Black Circle Award for lifetime achievement in Robert E. Howard studies; popular culture scholar Rick Lai, who regularly appears as a panelist on podcasts produced by THE LOVECRAFT eZINE; Professor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento and a member of the Pulp Era Amateur Press Association; and Nathan Vernon Madison, a researcher involved in The Pulp Magazines Project and author of the Eisner-nominated ANTI-FOREIGN IMAGERY IN AMERICAN PULPS AND COMICS for a presentation entitled “The Call of Cthulhu: The Development of Lovecraft’s Mythos.” Scheduled for Friday evening, August 14th, at 9:50 PM, our panelists are promising a lively discussion that will explore the inspirations and origins of the Cthulhu Mythos as opposed to the Lovecraft’s Mythos and the Mythos of his contemporaries, as well as the controversies and personalities involved with these ideas over the years.

Join PulpFest 2015 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th, for a salute to H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. Although our host hotel is completely booked, there are still some rooms available at nearby hotels. Please click here and you’ll find a link to a list of hotels to choose from. If you are not from the Columbus area and want to attend PulpFest 2015, we urge you to book your room now and not later. Rooms that are relatively close to PulpFest are disappearing fast during the time frame of our convention.

(The first edition of TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS is credited to “H. P. Lovecraft and Others.” Edited and with an Introduction by August Derleth, it was released in 1969 by Arkham House Publishers in an edition of 4024 copies. The jacket art was created by the incomparable Lee Brown Coye who twice won the “World Fantasy Award for Best Artist.” Coye and his artwork will be the subject of a presentation at PulpFest 2015 on Saturday afternoon, August 15th, beginning at 2:30 PM.

As Lovecraft’s fiction became more widely read and popular, it led to adaptations in a variety of media including motion pictures, television, comic books, role-playing and video games, and even action figures and other toys. It was left to an organization devoted to the live-action role-playing game CTHULHU LIVES, to create one of the most faithful film adaptations of the work of H. P. Lovecraft. In 2005, the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society released THE CALL OF CTHULHU, a silent movie based on Lovecraft’s 1928 story. PulpFest will be offering a fully authorized showing of this film on Friday, August 14th, beginning at 11:30 PM. It will be accompanied by “Cool Air,” an episode from ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY that originally aired in 1971. Learn more by reading “The Films of H. P. Lovecraft.”

Please be sure to visit www.pulpfest.com/pulpfest-2015-registration-information/ to learn how to register for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con” and be part of our salute to H. P. Lovecraft, WEIRD TALES, and the art of Lee Brown Coye.)

PulpFest and the New Fictioneers

Apr 9, 2015 by

World War CthulhuIt’s called new pulp–stories by modern writers who recreate the style of fiction that appeared in the pulp magazines of yore. Back then, the authors who labored for the rough paper industry liked to call themselves scribes, word-slingers, penny-a-worders, and, perhaps the most favored term of all, fictioneers. Join PulpFest as we celebrate today’s fictioneers—the authors writing the new pulp fiction.

If you’re a writer who has been inspired by the work of yarn-spinners such as Raymond Chandler, Lester Dent, Frederick Faust, Walter B. Gibson, Edmond Hamilton, Robert E. Howard, H. Bedford-Jones, Henry Kuttner, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and countless others who churned out commercial fiction for the pulp market, PulpFest is looking for you!

Every year since 2009, we’ve featured readings by some of the best writers of today’s pulp fiction. Jim Beard, Christopher Paul Carey, Win Scott Eckert, Ron Fortier, William Patrick Maynard, Will Murray, and many others have read excerpts from their work, showcasing a wide range of exciting new fiction. Afterward, they’ve talked with their audiences, answering questions, fielding comments, discussing works-in-progress, and selling their books. Both our writers and their audiences have loved these sessions.

We call these hour-long events our “New Fictioneers” readings and we’re hoping to have some great ones at PulpFest 2015. As we have for the last six years, PulpFest is seeking writers for its New Fictioneers program, scheduled for Friday, August 14th, and Saturday, August 15th. If you’re a writer of contemporary genre fiction who would like to participate in this year’s festivities, please send an email to PulpFest marketing and programming director Mike Chomko at mike@pulpfest.comLet him know that you’d like to be one of our celebrated New Fictioneers. Mike is seeking four writers to present their fiction at this year’s convention.

In the past, we’ve selected our readers on a first-come, first-served basis. This year, given our dual themes celebrating H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES and the Thrilling Group of pulp magazines, we’re going to try something different. Although the sooner writers apply to be our 2015 New Fictioneers, the better, priority will be given to those creators who have written fiction inspired by the work of Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, WEIRD TALES and such writers as Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Seabury Quinn, or the pulp offerings of Standard Magazines–the Black Bat, Captain Future, the GhostLone EagleMasked Rider, Phantom Detective, and so on. Since PulpFest 2015 will also be exploring Standard Comics--also known as Better Publications and Nedor Publishing–creators of works featuring such characters as the Black Terror, Doc StrangeFighting Yank, Kara the Jungle PrincessMiss Masque, and Pyroman will also be given priority. However, all new-pulp or writers of supernatural fiction are welcome to apply.

In order to give the convention time to prepare its marketing of this year’s New Fictioneers, all reader applications for PulpFest 2015 need to be submitted by June 1, 2015. Space is limited–only four readers will be selected for this year’s convention. If you’re writing contemporary genre fiction, we look forward to hearing from you.

(WORLD WAR CTHULHU, published in August 2014, features 22 stories from the eternal struggle against the darkness, drawn from desperate battles across the ages. Illustrated by M. Wayne Miller, it features jacket art by Vincent Chong.)

H. P. Lovecraft at 125

Jan 14, 2015 by

“The twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale” — Stephen King

“The Copernicus of the horror story” — Fritz Leiber

“To me, Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an entity. A most important one. And I rejoice to see that his work–and his memory among readers and writers–endures” — Robert Bloch

In his introduction to THE BEST OF H. P. LOVECRAFT: BLOODCURDLING TALES OF HORROR AND THE MACABRE (Del Rey Books, 1982), Robert Bloch remembers the man who, “. . . befriended a fifteen-year-old fan, who gave him a lifelong career, who set an example of fellowship and good-will . . .”

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 20, 1880. He was the last lineal descendant of an old New England family that had seen better days. His father died of paresis in 1898; his mother survived until 1921, but her own mental instability increased as the family fortunes declined.

Lovecraft wrote: “As a child I was very peculiar and sensitive, always preferring the society of grown persons to that of other children.” Actually it was his neurotic mother who labelled him peculiar and “protected” him from contact with other youngsters. A precocious child, he learned to read when he was four and soon experimented with writing. Poor health kept him from college and economic necessity eventually caused him to neglect amateur journalism in favor of ghostwriting or revising the work of others for professional publication. Gradually he began to produce poetry and fiction of his own.

After his mother’s death he lived for a time in New York, married an older woman from whom he separated amicably two years later, then returned to Providence. Here he made his home with two elderly aunts. One of them died in 1932; he and his surviving relative resided together until his own death on March 15, 1937.

Lovecraft’s career as a professional writer was largely compressed into a span of about sixteen years. He remained virtually unknown except to the limited readership of pulp magazines such as WEIRD TALES in which his work appeared. It earned only a pitiful pittance to supplement the income from a meager inheritance, and he continued his anonymous chores for other writers. At the same time he brightened and broadened his uneventful existence with a widespread correspondence among fellow writers and readers of fantastic fiction. The most constant and devoted members of this group formed what would later be called “the Lovecraft Circle”; his lengthy letters of comment, criticism, and literary advice encouraged them to write or attempt writing in the genre. When a combination of cancer and Bright’s disease claimed his life at the age of forty-six the loss was mourned by far-off friends, many of whom had known him only as a correspondent.

Lovecraft’s literary style was distinctive and frequently imitated by protégés. With his approval, they and others borrowed the imaginary settings of his stories, together with the weird books and grotesque gods he created to heighten horror.

At the time of his death he had already become what would now be called a “cult figure.” But the cult was comparatively small and had absolutely no influence on contemporary critics or publishers. It took long years to bring the man and his work to the attention of a larger audience.

Today Lovecraft is established as a major American fantasy writer, frequently ranked as the equal of Poe. His work is in print here and abroad and the mild-mannered, old-fashioned, conservative New England gentleman has become an acknowledged master of horror fiction.

Join PulpFest 2015 in August at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio, beginning on Thursday, August 13th and running through Sunday, August 16th as we celebrate H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, just a few short days before the author’s 125th birthday. We’ll be announcing more about the convention and our Lovecraft salute as we flesh out the details in the months ahead.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

H. P. Lovecraft, writing in “Supernatural Horror in Literature”

2015 Postcard Front

The artwork is from the November 1944 issue of WEIRD TALES. The artist is Matt Fox, an illustrator who painted about a dozen covers for “the unique magazine.” Fox also worked for other pulps, including CRACK DETECTIVE, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, and PLANET STORIES. In the 1950s and 1960s he was an artist for Atlas Comics.

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