Column: Innsmouth Inktank: Cthulhu at Comic-Con

All images belong to Bryan Thao Worra, copyright 2013

It wasn’t as bad as the doom that came to Sarnath, but 2013 will stand out as a low-key year for Lovecraft fans attending San Diego Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center. The annual spectacle continued to thrill fans participating (this correspondent included), but an honest assessment is that fans of the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos didn’t have much to nibble on until Saturday.

Only one panel was presented this year, “H.P. Lovecraft and the Necronomicon: 75 years of comic-con 2013 032 (2)-w622-h350mingling fact and fiction,” where we discussed the history and implications of that hoary tome. Convened and moderated by Aaron Vanek, the chair of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival-LA, it was an excellent gathering with almost every seat packed. At least 426 people had indicated an interest in attending, although it was one of the last programs of the day. Only about a dozen of the audience members were newcomers to the work of Lovecraft.

But what an assembly of panelists it was! Brian Yuzna, the director/producer of Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, Necronomicon, and many more classics, was there. Mark Kinsey Stephenson, whose acting credits include Randolph Carter in the 1988 adaptation of “The Unnamable,” spoke of the sense of horror the Necronomicon instilled in him as he took on the role. Artist Mike Dubisch brought in an artist’s perspective, having created the popular Black Velvet Necronomicon.

You also had editor Leslie Klinger, whose latest book is the upcoming Annotated H.P. Lovecraft,and author Cody Goodfellow, who has written many works set firmly amid the Cthulhu Mythos. Additionally H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival-Portland organizer and Arkham Bazaar owner Brian Callahan were in the bunch, while I represented Innsmouth Free Press.

Interestingly, our discussion of the Necronomicon was beset by a number of ‘technical’ comic-con 2013 045 (2)-w622-h350difficulties as the panelists tried to present footage and slides of the accursed book throughout the last 75 years. It’s best not to speak further of those horrors. The panel also displayed several examples of the Necronomicon produced by small presses – the notorious Simonomicon, and prop Necronomicons from the Evil Dead series, and other films, much to the audience’s enjoyment. No one seemed to run screaming out into the hallway in a fit of madness, so we were uncertain if we quoted the random passages correctly or incorrectly.

This year, elder gods and Great Old Ones were in marked short supply among the vendors, the notable exception being Minnesota’s Cthulhiana Corner, lovingly tended by the staff of the Source Comics & Games. The occasional t-shirt vendor had a quaint design here or there with a choice quip or two, but we were hard-pressed to find a truly mind-blasting design new to this year.

Zombies, vampires and a variety of more recent aliens were reflected in far more abundance in the programming and costumes this year. However, the Godzilla Experience almost made up for the lack of Lovecraftian horror, as the minds at Legendary Entertainment went all-out to convert a nearby building into a Tokyo-themed introduction to Godzilla through the ages, right down to a sushi restaurant with dishes named after famous monsters from Toho Studios.

However, given the recent success of Cthulhu-themed kickstarters, including the phenomenal Cthulhu Wars board game, the next edition of The Call of Cthulhu role playing game, and Achtung! Cthulhu, I suspect we may see more of the Great Old Ones awaken next year. But only strange aeons will tell ….

comic-con 2013 195-w622-h350

About Bryan Thao Worra

Bryan Thao Worra is a Lao-American poet, short story writer, playwright and essayist. An NEA Fellow in literature, his work appears internationally in numerous anthologies, magazines and newspapers, including Bamboo Among the Oaks, Tales of the Unanticipated, Illumen, Astropoetica, Outsiders Within, Dark Wisdom, Journal of the Asian American Renaissance, and Mad Poets of Terra. He is the author of the speculative books of poetry, On the Other Side of the Eye and BARROW. You can visit him online at http://thaoworra.blogspot.com.

Bryan Thao WorraColumn: Innsmouth Inktank: Cthulhu at Comic-Con