Collect Call of Cthulhu, Part 5: Bryan Riolo’s Cthulhu emerging

Bryan Riolo - Cthulhu emergesThis latest entry in the Collect Call of Cthulhu is from Bryan Riolo, a.k.a. Algoroth on DeviantART. Please note that Bryan Riolo holds the copyright for this image and reserves all rights to it; it appears here thanks to his generous permission.

In his DeviantART post on this image, Bryan wrote:

Chthulhu in Space! EMERGES!

For the record: Chthulhu was designed from A; Lovecraft’s description AND the human characters’ reactions to the elder god, B: Tyrannosaurus rex, C: A squid, maybe Architeuthis, D: my own thoughts on his monstrous hunger, and E: the colossal squid for the tentacles, especially those scary hooks. […] This being is monstrous to our eyes, probably amoral, and utterly immense.

Here’s what I wrote in a comment after Bryan first posted a link to this pic:

I dig your Cthulhu-as-immense-space-dragon. It’s interesting, Lovecraft did explicitly describe Cthulhu as scaly and as much dragon as human or cephalopod, but most artists don’t take the “dragon” influence any farther than the wings. So punching up the dragonish side is a way to take Cthulhu depictions outside the norm without being unfaithful to Lovecraft. I especially like how the teeth continue from the mouth onto the tentacles–it’s a nice example of the blurring of normal biological boundaries that we’ve been discussing.

I’ve had a further thought about this. Cthulhu is only the most famous manifestation of Lovecraft’s brand of cosmic horror, in which the universe is, if not actively inimical to human life, then so vast and uncaring and full of hyper-powerful entities with whom we share no possibility of common ground that it often hard to tell the difference. I remember getting this vibe from Lovecraft when I first read his stories as a kid: that Cthulhu and his ilk are the ground state of the universe, that we don’t get that only because we are so small, weak, young (as a species), and naively optimistic, and that we are in for a rude awakening sooner or later. As the t-shirt says, it’s not if, it’s when and how bad.

By putting Cthulhu in space, Bryan conjures an alternative timeline–or possible future?–in which humanity encounters Cthulhu in spaceships, not tramp steamers, but the outcome will be no more favorable. The monsters of the Mythos are physical entities (or at least project themselves into this continuum as such) so piety  will not save us, but they are so immense and so corrosive to human concerns and frames of reference that laser guns are not a sure defense, either. Not demons, but not Godzilla, either–something indefinably worse than either. I think therein lies their appeal.

The comment field is open. What do you think?

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4 Responses to Collect Call of Cthulhu, Part 5: Bryan Riolo’s Cthulhu emerging

  1. Nathan Myers says:

    I’m going to gush over this one, too. Its all-encompassing hunger comes through, here, better than most, as does Its confounding anatomy. This image even achieves extradimensionality. (The deep blue, leaking through from a colored reality, is an inspired touch.) This could be an encounter on Its way to Earth, or in the future, or on an alternate timeline, or Cthulhu’s dream, or all of them at once. If It can come to Earth, It can leave Earth too. Its departure would be no less terrible than Its arrival.

    I would not be tempted to retard my flight to make better sense of Its anatomy.

  2. Pingback: Collect Call of Cthulhu, Part 6: Markus Bühler’s multifarious horrors | Echo Station 5-7

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