Lovecraft: The Character

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Tomorrow is Lovecraft’s birthday. More than a hundred years after his birth, the writer’s stories are surprisingly popular. So popular, in fact, that Lovecraft himself has become a character. Most recently, he appeared in an episode of Supernatural, the TV show, but although this may be his most mainstream exposure, Lovecraft is by now the protagonist of plenty of tales.

His debut occurred in Robert Bloch’s “The Shambler from the Stars”, though one might argue this doesn’t count because Bloch does not refer to his friend by name. Nevertheless, it’s quite obviously a friendly nudge to the writer, who was Bloch’s buddy.

A rose by any other name is Sutter Cane from In the Mouth of Madness. The whole movie is a nod to Lovecraft and Stephen King (and King, after all, draws deeply from Lovecraft in some of his early works), and best-selling novelist Sutter Cane is a crossbreed between Lovecraft and King.

Detective Harry Philip Lovecraft has little to do with the Lovecraft we know, but is still worth mentioning because he stars in a very Lovecraftian, noirish little film called Cast A Deadly Spell. It’s hard to find it these days (It was filmed by HBO) but worth a watch.

But now for the authentic item: Lovecraft as Lovecraft. First of all there is Lovecraft’s Book by Richard Lupoff, which is – despite what you might expect, since this was published by the venerable Arkham House in 1985 – not a horror story but an espionage thriller.

Pulptime (full title: Pulptime: Being a singular adventure of Sherlock Holmes, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Kalem Club, as if narrated by Frank Belknap Long, Jr.) by P.H. Canon has Sherlock Holmes, Lovecraft and Houdini teaming up to solve a mystery. Houdini and Lovecraft did have a real-life connection: Lovecraft was a ghost writer for a Houdini story. Canon is also the author of Scream for Jeeves!: H.P. Lovecraft Meets P.G. Wodehouse. The title says it all.

A more recent novel, The Lovecraft Chronicles, imagines Lovecraft’s life if he had been a succesful writer. He even makes it to Hollywood, has a more dynamic love life, and he does not die in the 30s. Once again, this is the curious case of a book which defies expectations – no horror in it – to focus on an imaginative exercise of ‘What if?’.

Shadows Bend plays it a bit more pulpy, with weird authors Lovecraft, Howard and Ashton Smith fighting the Old Ones (Howard and Lovecraft never met in real life, but corresponded, and Lovecraft wrote to a ton of other writers).

On film, Lovecraft appeared – more as an Indiana Jones kind of character than the Gentleman from Providence – in the anthology movie, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, back in 1993 and was played by Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator).

The Spanish movie La Sombra Prohibida also included Lovecraft as a character. Though not directly based on Lovecraft’s stories, it draws from his universe to tell the story of a woman who travels to an old mansion in the Spanish countryside, the Valdemar House, where odd things have happened through the years.

Out of Mind: The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft explores the relationship between Lovecraft and his stories. The writer himself appears in the film.

Recently, Lovecraft teemed up with another famous horror writer to fight for good. Poe & Phillips is a comic book series, published by Arcana, and developed by the Spanish duo of Jaime Roman Collado and Miguel Hernandez Cedillo. It unites Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe as paranormal investigators working together a case.

Young Lovecraft is a story about, yes, Lovecraft as a child, meeting, talking and dealing with all the creatures from his stories. The series appears online and is the work of Spaniards José Oliver and Bartolo Torres (What do they put in the water in Spain?). The collected strips have been released in English translation by KettleDrummer Books.

Another comic book that has a child Lovecraft as a protagonist is Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom by Bruce Brown and Renzo Podesta. An Arcana title released in 2010, it is being followed by Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom, about the further adventures of little Lovecraft.

That’s it for my recollection of Lovecraft the character. What are some Lovecraft appearances I missed?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

About Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia lives in beautiful, rainy British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes fantasy, magic realism and science fiction. You can read her stories in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, The Book of Cthulhu, Evolve 2 and Tesseracts 13. She is the co-editor of Candle in the Attic Window, Future Lovecraft and Historical Lovecraft.

Silvia Moreno-GarciaLovecraft: The Character

10 Comments on “Lovecraft: The Character”

  1. Matt Carpenter

    Ahh! A challenge! This may take several posts!

    Edward Lee, the sclockmaster, has laetly been butchering the memories of HPL by featuring him and his creations in his rape porn books.

    Pages Torn From a Travel Journal features the adventures of HPL visiting a carnival while on a bus ride. In Trolley 1852 HPL is hired to write a pornographic novel. The Innswich Horror has HPL coming back as a zombie. In the yet to be released Lucifer’s Lottery HPL is a tour guide in hell.

    Kyle Paquet self published a rather woeful effort, The Other Lovecraft, which has HPL as the creator of a world full of his imaginary creatures, who need his help.

    In the rare British graphic novel Necronauts by Gordon Rennie, Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Fort and HPL have to save the world.

    The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft is a highly enjoyable graphic novel by Mac Carter; HPL fights his own creations.

    Atomic Robo has to fight a monster that sprang from the mind of HPL in the very fun graphic novel Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time, by Brian Clevinger.

  2. Matt Carpenter

    Hans Rodionoff published Lovecraft, another graphic novel featuring HPL as a child, and showing what inspired him.

    In the graphic novel pantheon I rate Young Lovecraft > The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft > Atomic Robo >> Lovecraft (Rodionoff) >> Necronauts ~ Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom > Poe & Phillips.

    In the Lair of the Dreamer, the novella which gives this singke author collection its name, by Franlyn Searight, an appearance of HPL’s ghost is inflicted upon the reader.

    Actually I just have to add I realy do not enjoy the plot device that HPL was really telling the awful truth, just disguising it as fiction. To me it comes across as a real pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain killer of world building. On such dog is The Iron Maiden , a painful novel by Peter Lancett.

    HPL by the venerable Gahan Wilson shows how the master still lives.

    Weird Tales by Fred Chappell is a tedious short story that features HPL.

    I know there are innumberable other stories featuring HPL but I can’t find any more notes!

  3. Nart

    There is also a 3D model of H.P Lovecraft (I mean a virtual one, not a doll) that you can purchase, to have HPL appear in your own CG animations, made with iClone, etc.

  4. daupo

    HPL also appears as himself, and rather in character, in the Illuminatus! books by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea.

    Wikipedia: “Author H. P. Lovecraft is alluded to often, with many mentions of characters (e.g., Robert Harrison Blake, Henry Armitage, Klarkash-Ton), monsters (e.g., Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth), books (Necronomicon, Unaussprechlichen Kulten) and places (Miskatonic University) from his Cthulhu Mythos. He even appears himself as a character, as does his aunt Annie Gamwell and one of his acquaintances, Hart Crane.”

    If I remember correctly, there was a link made between Bugs Bunny and Tsathoggua, both being called a “hexende Hase,” or cursed witch in German.

  5. Fungalwizard

    Shadows Bend by David Barbour & Richard Raleigh is about Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard joining forces to fight servants of the Old Ones. Clark Ashton Smith also makes an appearance.

  6. Martin A

    Actually, Frank Belknap Long was the first to use Lovecraft as a character, in “The Space Eaters”.

  7. Martin A

    I just remembered: S. T. Joshi has written a supernatural novel with Lovecraft as protagonist, called THE ASSAULTS OF CHAOS (http://stjoshi.org/news.html , the entry for August 5 and earlier). It hasn’t been published yet, but it’s going to be good. :)

  8. IFP
    Administrator

    Hey Martin,

    Ah, Frank’s would be a Lovecraft clone or look-alike, but you are right. “Space Eaters” comes before “Shambler” (unless my memory deceives me).

    Cheers,

    Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  9. Martin A

    Lovecraft and Long themselves considered that character to be Lovecraft, since Lovecraft was very concerned with how Long was going to depict him:

    “As for your new novelette—look here, young man, you’d better be mighty careful how you treat your aged and dignified Grandpa as here! You mustn’t make me do anything cheerful or wholesome, and remember that only the direst of damnations can befit so inveterate a daemon of the cosmick abysses. And, young man, don’t forget that I am prodigiously lean. I am lean—LEAN, I tell you! Lean! And if you’re afraid that my leanness will make the horror get you instead, why just reduce like your Grandpa and escape as well!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *