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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Buddy's Got Three Moms: Hate Vol. 5 (Humor) (Graphic Novel)

by Peter Bagge

Publisher: Fantagraphics (January 9th, 2000)

Hardcover, 120 pages 

Volume 5 of the Buddy Bradley story from the 90s indie comic Hate. Originally published by Fantagraphics, it ran for 30 issues and was one of the most popular indie comics of the old days. At its height, the comic sold 30,000 copies an issue. Compare that to the fact that the industry leaders Marvel and DC today can barely manage 5,000 copies an issue.
Some claim that it's an indication that comics will die off with Generation X, but I think that it’s more a reflection of how crappy the stories have become. If you hire people to write and draw a comic who don't care about the medium, who think they're above it, and who have no respect for the history and continuity then you are going to produce an inferior product.

Hate came out right as the mainstream began to identify grunge culture, which is essentially what the comic is about.  It's difficult to find a more defining Generation X comic than this. It is the 90s wrapped up between two covers. Leading through it takes me back to the fashioned, the attitudes, the technology, the problems, and the joys of my youth. All of it perfectly encapsulated here. As such, younger readers may not enjoy it as much, or perhaps they can look at it as a time machine.
Its protagonist, Buddy Bradley, is a latter day Holden Caulfield. He is slacker who doesn't really want to grow up and is perpetually angered that he has to deal with the minutiae of life. It’s no great wonder that he's in no hurry to grow up consider info the dysfunctional state of his own family. The father is a boozed-out alkie, the mother is a classic enabler, the sister is a single mother of two, and the brother is a jock bully lay-about. They barely tolerate each other and seem to do so simply out of familiarity. Their chief method of communication is screaming.

In this volume, Buddy has moved back into his parent’s house with his mentally ill girlfriend, Lisa. He has opened up a collectibles shop with his druggie friend, but doesn't make enough to get his own place in New Jersey. The family is as dysfunctional as you can be, hitting all the red flags along the way- alcohol and drug abuse, inability to communicate without screaming, disrespect for education, and low paying jobs. This creates a powder keg situation which can explode at any time.
Buddy is not a pleasant character. You don’t root for him or wish him well. Just the opposite, you keep reading hoping that he will crash and burn, that his arrogance and incompetence will catch up and leave him with nothing. A perfect anti-hero.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Aftermath (comic) (Science Fiction)

by Richard Thurber 

Published by Gulf Comics (Issue 1), Gulf Coast Comics (Issue 2) 

Softcover, 36 pages each issue

Issues 1 & 2 Mile High Comics   

This will be one of my more obscure entries, as it is a pair of comic issues based on an obscure pen-and-paper role playing game from the early 80s. In fact, it is so obscure that there is no mention of it on the Wikipedia page on the game. Yet the game is advertised in the pages of the comic.
The game itself was a bust. Published in Fantasy Games Unlimited and placed in a post-apocalyptic setting. The exact nature of the devastation was up to the individual game master, but the manual offered advice on what would happen after the event and the breakdown of society. Actual play, however, was god-awful. It made the mistake of many independent games and went for “realism” over fun. The combat rules are especially tedious, to the point where a six second gunfight might take up to two hours of real time to play out. As such, it was not popular.

I actually owned a copy of this game (it is probably still rattling around in my mother’s attic), and only played it once. It was nearly incomprehensible to my nine-year-old brain and I was never tempted again. There is a small group of supporters still, and a few PDF supplements have been released in the 2000s, but there is no reason to buy the game.
This leads to the comic Aftermath, put out by Gulf Comics (or Gulf Coast Comics, not to be confused with the comic shop of the same name) in 1983. I found almost nothing about the writer and artist, Richard Thurber, and this seems to be his only commercial endeavor. He must've gotten a license, but not much other support.
Both issues have the same protagonist, Charles “Hunter” Hunt, a grizzled soldier working as head of security for Mainstreet, a military survival compound in Texas. The back story is that in 1990 a limited nuclear exchange ruined most of the world and now the remaining superpowers are fighting over what's left.

What I found of interest in here was that the government (even in a limited capacity) survived and kept functioning, while the rest of the country reverted to a more frontier Old-West style of life. The specific s are a bit hazy, as it had only two issues to develop, but it ended with Russian troops entering Texas just as the state decided to cede from the Union.
I would have loved to see a third, fourth, fifth issue. But it was not to be. As most independents, it stank in sales and sunk into obscurity. If my local comic shop, Queen City Comics in Buffalo NY, hadn't gone out of their way to stock independent comics, I would never had heard of it.

What probably prevented the comic from taking off, apart from poor advertising, was the art- which can be charitably called amateurish. Now I will say that each character was distinctive and easily identifiable, but the quality of the art is below par. Stiff limbs, awkward balloon placements, poses obviously ripped off from old Jack Kirby comics. It looks like two pages from issue 2 were drawn by someone else (much better quality). Even the first few issues of Poison Elves (I, Lusiphur to megafans) were drawn more skillfully.

And despite that I have read these two comics over and over again. There is a distinct charm to them. It is truly a labor of love, and despite the brutality of the action (the comic does not pull punches) that love comes through. There was potential here seen in the setting, dialogue, and the characters. Obviously a lot of thought had been put into the background. If only he had gotten someone else to do the art.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Doomsters Monolithic Pocket Alphabet (Graphic Novel)

By Theo Prasidis & Maarten Donders

Publisher: Image Comics (2017)

Hardcover, 64 pages

Here’s an odd little book I picked up at random from a $3.00 bin at my old comic shop. I had no expectations for this tome, apart from it being half art, half prose, and cheap. That lack of care was blessing for this review, as I no longer get a cheap thrill attacking other people’s work for the sake of it.
This “pocket alphabet” (or primer, as they called it back when I was young) are the ABCs of Doom Metal, which Wikipedia describes as “an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "thicker" or "heavier" sound than other metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom.” It is not a form of metal I’ve listened to, but I was a huge fan of their primary influence namely Black Sabbath (especially their first two albums). There are also various stylistic subgenres within this subgenre that don’t bear going into.

This book itself is well illustrated, each punctuating the letter on the opposite page as well as can be, but none of them caused me to stop and stare or marvel at how finely crafted it was. I glimpsed, saw it was done well, and moved on. Overall, it took me about fifteen minutes to get through the book.

As to the content, it seemed like a guide on how to be a wanna-be rebel and Doom Metal musician. Or more like, the ways one needs to conform to fit into the lifestyle of Doom Metal. Thus it’s just another way to be a conformist. I’m not sure how much of this is to taken literally. It does have a certain tongue-in-cheek vibe to it, but it is what it is- a curiosity about a subgenre of music. There are also certain references to specific people whom I assume are part of the Doom Metal scene, that I couldn’t be bothered to look up.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Elfquest: The Final Quest vol 4 (Fantasy) (Graphic Novel)

By Wendy and Richard Pini 

Publisher: Dark Horse Books (July 10th, 2018). 

Softcover, 168 pages. 

It was like saying goodbye to an old and dear friend. The final volume of the Elfquest saga was as sad and hopeful as expected. All the loose ends were wrapped up. All the drama over. It ends on a note of peace and hope where a collaborative tribe of 4 elf tribes, trolls, and humans come together. I was happy with the result, I was just sad that there will never be a new Elfquest story.
The final groups of elves gather together to decide whether they will stay on the World of Two Moons or travel with the Palace of the High Ones. There are some difficult decisions, families separate forever, deaths and births occur, and we have a very violent finish. It ends with the death of an important character causing everything to come full circle. If readers find this character's death forced, Wendy Pini at the end of the book provided the original rough drafts from over twenty years ago. It was always planned to end this way. Sad, but inevitable.

For forty years, Elfquest has been one of the greatest standard bearers of the indie scene. Though this last collection was put out by Dark Horse, Elfquest has always been its own master. No one had a story like it. No one drew like it. It was, and probably always will be, a unique experience. And one that I will miss, but I still have piles of old issues to pour through when I get the urge to revisit these characters. I can always console myself with that. And while, again, I’m sad because the series ended, I am also glad that it ended well. It was as good as send off as could be expected and it ends the possibility of others sticking their scabby fingers in the story and possibly ruining it for good.
Farewell Elfquest. Gone, but never forgotten.

Ps. If you've never read the series before. This is definitely NOT the book to start with. Begin at the beginning and you will definitely be hooked.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Celebrity Vinyl (Humor)

by Tom Hamling

Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher (2008)

Hardcover, 128 pages. 

         The idea of a celebrity, who is not famous for their singing, putting out an album (or “cutting a disk” as formerly hip codgers like to say) is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it seems to have existed since the invention of the phonograph. So while the idea is known to everyone, the sheer volume of material to pick through and laugh at is staggering.
I am sure that this volume is not an exhaustive collection, but we have over one hundred and twenty different albums from celebrities. Some are has-beens, Kristy & Jimmy McNicol. Some are dated, Laverne and Shirley Sing. Some are dead, The Two Sides of Telly Savalas. But all are hysterical.
This collection of celebrity albums takes us back to the question of what makes something camp? The simple answer is: A ridiculous idea done in a serious manner by people who were genuine in its creation. This covers most of the book, but there are a few included here which were put out purely for camp reasons: Ethel Merman’s Disco Album, Leonard Nimoy presents Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space, and Billy Crystal’s You Look Marvelous (from his SNL character - for those too young to get the reference), are a few examples. These were obviously meant to be farcical, yet they retain the camp attributes.
Why? Age is definitely a factor.  While they were humorous to begin with, they take on a new hilarity as time went on. What was once considered funny is now just odd. It’s similar to how Alice in Wonderland becomes odder and odder with each successive generation. That’s because Lewis Carrol was making fun of various elements of the society in which he lives. Most of the poems were parodies of popular songs from the 19th Century. But when the original is lost to time, then the parody becomes stranger still. With no reference, you simply have a strange story.
And, luckily for this modern age, nearly all of the albums in this book are available on Youtube in some form. I’ve included a few clips below. Enjoy!
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

                    Kristy and Jimmy McNicol- Enjoy the Cringe

Leonard Nimoy - The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

Ethel Merman- Disco Version of There's No Business Like Show Business

John Travolta lip syncing a terrible love song

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Lovecraft: The Haunter in the Dark

by H. P. Lovecraft

Free Online Text  

  “Of the Shining Trapezohedron he speaks often, calling it a window on all time and space, and tracing its history from the days it was fashioned on dark Yuggoth, before ever the Old Ones brought it to earth. It was treasured and placed in its curious box by the crinoid things of Antarctica, salvaged from their ruins by the serpent-men of Valusia, and peered at aeons later in Lemuria by the first human beings. It crossed strange lands and stranger seas, and sank with Atlantis before a Minoan fisher meshed it in his net and sold it to swarthy merchants from nighted Khem. The Pharaoh Nephren-Ka built around it a temple with a windowless crypt, and did that which caused his name to be stricken from all monuments and records. Then it slept in the ruins of that evil fane which the priests and the new Pharaoh destroyed, till the delver’s spade once more brought it forth to curse mankind.”
Originally published in the 1936 December issue of Weird Tales and is the last written piece of literature that Lovecraft wrote which added to his Cthulhu Mythos. He died of a cancer in his small intestine in March of the following year. Sad to say, he died a disappointed man. Unable to make a real living with his writing, he lived on a starvation diet in his Aunt’s house the last years of his life.
Issue where the story was first published.
Adding to his misery, he was deeply affected by the suicide of his friend, Robert E. Howard- creator of Conan, Solomon Kane, Bran Mac Morn (all of which inhabit the Cthulhu universe by the way. The two would often intermingle their stories). As such, when they died both Howard and Lovecraft were under the impression that they would be forgotten. And like Kafka before them and Phillip K. Dick afterwards, how wrong they both were. Their true fame and influence would not blossom until some time after they had passed on.
Thus it is with a sense of sadness that I discuss Lovecraft’s last work, The Haunter in the Dark. This is a sequel to a story called, The Shambler from the Stars by Robert Bloch. A third story, written by Bloch in 1950, was published in The Shadow from the Steeple. This story revolves around a writer who investigates an old church in Providence, Rhode Island called the Church of Starry Wisdom. As you can guess, the place is a front for the evil worship of the Crawling Chaos, Nyarlathotep and the Outer Gods. One thing leads to another and an anceint evil is revealed. The dreaded Nyarlathotep himself emerges in a final performance for the writings of his creator, H. P. Lovecraft. This tale also adds a new element to the Mythos, the Shining Trapezohedron.
An object which was crafted by the Mi-Go on Yuggoth (or Pluto as we Humans call it) and is used to conjure up the unnamable horrors from beyond this world. It has appeared in numerous Bloch and Derelith stories as well as a King Kull tale by Robert E. Howard. In the real world, The Robert Bloch Award in the shape of the Shining Trapezohedron is presented at the annual Necronomicon convention.
Once again, very little has been done with this story in other media so I offer you the Horror Babble audiobook version along with a trailer for a film loosely based on the story. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor. 
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lovecraft: The Shadow Out of Time

by H. P. Lovecraft

Free Online Text

“Primal myth and modern delusion joined in their assumption that mankind is only one—perhaps the least—of the highly evolved and dominant races of this planet’s long and largely unknown career. Things of inconceivable shape, they implied, had reared towers to the sky and delved into every secret of Nature before the first amphibian forbear of man had crawled out of the hot sea three hundred million years ago. Some had come down from the stars; a few were as old as the cosmos itself; others had arisen swiftly from terrene germs as far behind the first germs of our life-cycle as those germs are behind ourselves. Spans of thousands of millions of years, and linkages with other galaxies and universes, were freely spoken of. Indeed, there was no such thing as time in its humanly accepted sense.”

Probably the best of Lovecraft’s science fiction stories. Its tone, its flair, its literary panache keeps a reader gripped throughout the entire tale. It is an amazing mystery with a twist that you will never see coming. It is quite ingenious and original for its time at least. Yet, despite it’s brilliant crafting, the story has never been developed much into other mediums, except as a radio drama.

The story concerns a young man who loses five years of his life. He goes to sleep one night, only to wake up and find himself half a decade later. His wife has divorced him and his children refuse to see him. During his subsequent investigation of the past, he discovers that someone had taken possession of his body traveled all over the world, met strange people, and collected many obscure tomes - including the dreaded Necronomicon. Eventually his search leads him to a startling conclusion.

This story introduces my favorite of the Cthulhu races, The Great Race of Yith. An intelligent race that died out in the various millennia that makes up Earth’s pre-history before the dawn of man. This is the earliest of these recorded intelligent races, predating the Elder Things by millions of years. They are capable of projecting their minds through time to the future and past into the brains of other sentient beings and swap consciousnesses. This is how they gather their vast repertoire of information. Eventually the entire race travels through time as their civilization is about to be destroyed by a race of flying polyp creatures from another planet. They eventually inhabit the race which will inherit the Earth after mankind has gone extinct.
The Great Race of Yith
The Great Race, it is hinted, may be the actual writers of the Pnakotic Manuscripts- a series of tablets which predate humanity. In my mind, I still believe the Elder Things to be the ones who wrote these particular pieces of forbidden lore. This is simply due to the fact that the manuscripts make references to the Outer Gods and Azathoth, which the Elder Things are known to worship.

As I said above, there is almost thing done with this story in other mediums, so I will include an audio version of the story below. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Audiobook Version of the Story

Radio Drama of the Story

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Lovecraft: The Thing on the Doorstep

by H. P. Lovecraft

“He did not speak until we were on a dark stretch of road, and when he did his voice seemed utterly unfamiliar. It was deeper, firmer, and more decisive than I had ever known it to be; while its accent and pronunciation were altogether changed—though vaguely, remotely, and rather disturbingly recalling something I could not quite place. There was, I thought, a trace of very profound and very genuine irony in the timbre—not the flashy, meaninglessly jaunty pseudo-irony of the callow “sophisticate”, which Derby had habitually affected, but something grim, basic, pervasive, and potentially evil. I marvelled at the self-possession so soon following the spell of panic-struck muttering.”
Originally published in Weird Tales in January of 1937. Many people are critical of this story- probably for the same reasons they are down on The Dreams in the Witch House. Despite being undeniably a part of the Cthulhu Mythos, it A) doesn’t add to them, it simply plays of older elements; and B) is a return to heavy supernatural elements- rather than science fiction ones. While both of these are true, it is not a terrible story, just a not a groundbreaking one.
Done almost similar to Herbert West: Reanimator - only with on a psychic level, we see a man with tastes for the occult who marries a woman from Innsmouth (and we all remember the bizarre interbreeding with the Deep Ones from The Shadow Over Innsmouth) with strange features- similar to those of the Deep Ones. The man then begins acting strangely, discussing an evil effect his wife his having over him and eventually begins to change and develop strange mannerisms. Eventually culminating in the titular Thing on the Doorstep- which is a very nice twist, if you read the story.
As I said before there are many standards of the Cthulhu Mythos in this story: Miskatonic University, Arkham, Innsmouth, Kingsport, The Necronomicon, Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath, Shoggoths, and so on. But the story does not add to them in any manner. Even the mind transference part was done before (and better) in The Shadow Out of Time. It is a fun read, just don’t expect one of Lovecraft’s greatest creations.
Listed below are a film adaptation of the story and the audiobook by Horror Babble. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor!

   Film Adaptation


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Lovecraft: Through the Gates of the Silver Key

by H. P. Lovecraft & E. Hoffman Price

Free Online Text 

“And while there are those,” the mad Arab had written, “who have dared to seek glimpses beyond the Veil, and to accept HIM as a Guide, they would have been more prudent had they avoided commerce with HIM; for it is written in the Book of Thoth how terrific is the price of a single glimpse. Nor may those who pass ever return, for in the Vastnesses transcending our world are Shapes of darkness that seize and bind. The Affair that shambleth about in the night, the Evil that defieth the Elder Sign, the Herd that stand watch at the secret portal each tomb is known to have, and that thrive on that which groweth out of the tenants within—all these Blacknesses are lesser than HE Who guardeth the Gateway; HE Who will guide the rash one beyond all the worlds into the Abyss of unnamable Devourers. For HE is’UMR AT-TAWIL, the Most Ancient One, which the scribe rendereth as THE PROLONGED OF LIFE.”

Here was a story that Lovecraft's never wanted to write, had not conceived of in fact. It is the last of the Randolph Carter stories (the protagonist of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and The Silver Key), a protagonist which Lovecraft believed his tale to be ended. If you remember, the character’s mind had twisted back through time and inhabited his ten year old self.
Lovecraft was approached by his co-author, Price, and was convinced to continue the story of Carter past the time of his finding the Silver Key, which unlocked the doors to beyond, i.e. which leads to Yog Sothoth. From what is said, Lovecraft was not enthusiastic about the project. Lovecraft took the initial draft and altered it, though kept many of the concepts and added his own. Price was happy about the results, stating that Lovecraft "was right of course in discarding all but the basic outline. I could only marvel that he had made so much of my inadequate and bungling start”.

Issue of Weird Tales where the story was first published
I am glad the maestro of the macabre was persuaded to write this tale as it gives us a unique perspective into the Cthulhu Mythos. For past the Ultimate gate, unlocked by the Silver Key, Carter is greeted by a guide who is implied to be Yog Sothoth himself. As it was stated in The Dunwich Horror, “Yog Sothoth is the gate and the key”. The protagonist is informed that the Randolph Carter as he understands himself is a faucet of a greater whole, an aspect of an ubersoul (Not a term that Lovecraft uses, but it fits). Carter himself is a facet of a particular being, the Supreme Archetype, made up of the greatest thinkers of the universe. Considering Carter is the literary alter ego of Lovecraft this is a bit egotistical, but it is unknown if he or Price came up with this bit.  
This story further backs up my theory that Yog Sothoth has been misclassified as an Outer God. His encounter with Carter is something beyond those creatures. Yog Sothoth here is not a mindless massively powerful entity as we have seen in the rest of the Outer Gods from the Mythos. They are so alien that they needed to create Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, to be able to interact with humanity. If anything Yog Sothoth is a manifestation of one of these archetypes or unique entity formed from the reality of the Dreamscape- possibly a Great Old One.  
I think William Murray summed up this story best. He wrote, "As a Dunsanian fantasy, the Price/Lovecraft collaboration is a failure; as a Mythos story, it is rich with ideas, but curiously diluted." But as I love the Dreamscape stories, I feel that this is a wonderful story with a bizarre twist at the end to keep a reader coming back for more.
I couldn’t find any other media derived from this tale, so I’m simply going to include an audiobook version from Horror Babble. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

 For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Lovecraft: The Dreams in the Witch House

by H. P. Lovecraft

Free Online Text  

“Old legends are hazy and ambiguous, and in historic times all attempts at crossing forbidden gaps seem complicated by strange and terrible alliances with beings and messengers from outside. There was the immemorial figure of the deputy or messenger of hidden and terrible powers—the “Black Man” of the witch-cult, and the “Nyarlathotep” of the Necronomicon. There was, too, the baffling problem of the lesser messengers or intermediaries—the quasi-animals and queer hybrids which legend depicts as witches’ familiars. As Gilman and Elwood retired, too sleepy to argue further, they heard Joe Mazurewicz reel into the house half-drunk, and shuddered at the desperate wildness of his whining prayers.”
There seems to be a lot of dislike for this story from amongst Lovecraft aficionados. Many state that this is amongst the poorest of his later stories. Even he was reluctant to have it published after August Derelith poo-pooed it. Lovecraft later wrote, "What the public considers 'weirdness' in drama is rather pitiful or absurd... They are all the same - flat, hackneyed, synthetic, essentially atmosphere-less jumbles of conventional shrieks and mutterings, and superficial mechanical situations." Yet it eventually was sold to Weird Tales who published it in 1933.

It is easy to understand the yawns directed at this tale as it is a step back towards the supernatural, rather than science fiction- which is where he found his best work. Despite his attempts to wrap it up in scientific jargon in discussing a hole through the “Einsteinian space/time continuum”, it is a story of a witch who uses magic to commune with things from beyond.
Essentially the story is of a young student at Miskatonic University rents a room at the “Witch House” in Arkham where a notorious witch that disappeared once dwelled. The room has odd angles and seems to conform to some unearthly geometry. As the title implies, he begins having strange dreams about the witch, her familiar, a human faced rat named Brown Jenkins, and other worldly places wherein dwell the Elder Things (as last seen from At the Mountains of Madness). He begins pulling things out of his dreams made from weird alloys and elements not catalogued in the periodic table of elements. The dreams become more and more vivid and evil, until disaster springs upon on the young protagonist.

 My opinion is that it's a solid story which builds on the Mythos by definitely connecting the Elder Things with Azathoth and its avatar the crawling Chaos, Nylarthotep. It was enjoyable to see how he connected old traditions of devil worship, meeting with the Devil at a crossroads (here the aforementioned Nylarthotep) and signing their name in a forbidden book (here the book of Azathoth). And how one enters into such pacts and places through the veils of sleep. All of these make for a fun story. Perhaps its only drawback is the predictable ending. But this is a Lovecraft tale. Anyone who has read his work should know what happens to his protagonists.
This story has been adapted twice into films, but I could only find trailers for them. To make up for this, I’ve uploaded an audio version of them as well. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968) trailer

Dreams of the Witch House trailer

Dreams of the Witch House audiobook

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Lovecraft: The Shadow over Innsmouth

by H. P Lovecraft

Free Online Text   

“Yield up enough sacrifices an’ savage knick-knacks an’ harbourage in the taown when they wanted it, an’ they’d let well enough alone. Wudn’t bother no strangers as might bear tales aoutside—that is, withaout they got pryin’. All in the band of the faithful—Order o’ Dagon—an’ the children shud never die, but go back to the Mother Hydra an’ Father Dagon what we all come from onct—Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn—”
     Old Zadok was fast lapsing into stark raving, and I held my breath. Poor old soul—to what pitiful depths of hallucination had his liquor, plus his hatred of the decay, alienage, and disease around him, brought that fertile, imaginative brain! He began to moan now, and tears were coursing down his channelled cheeks into the depths of his beard.”
Cover the of first printing of the story
Once tossed about like a hot potato, this story is now considered a classic and a staple of the Cthulhu Mythos. This story was initially rejected by Weird Tales, not for its content, but because of its length. It was too long for a magazine issue, but could not be easily broken into two parts. Eventually it was printed into a badly produced paperback, then reprinted in the January 1942 issue of Weird Tales- after the author’s death.
The basic plot is rather straightforward. A man describes how his trip to Innsmouth lead to a government investigation of the town, where odd people having the strange wide-eyed “Innsmouth look”, run rampant and perform strange rites on a place called Devil’s Reef and at the former Masonic Lodge, now called the Esoteric Order of Dagon. One thing leads to another, things are discovered, murders are attempted, and the narrator runs off only to make a startling revelation that turns him around.
Lovecraft further adds another layer to his Mythos. He creates another race the Deep Ones, who honor Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, live under the sea, and sometimes mate with men. But these aren’t beautiful mermaids- oh no. They are carnivorous bug-eyed monsters who are reportedly immortal. They mingle with human from their nests all over the world and their base in America happens to be the New England port of Innsmouth. Dagon is a throwback to a previous story of Lovecraft of the same name. His actual connection is up in the air. He might be an Adam figure to them and dwells in their underwater city- which apparently is some sort of extra-dimensional portal as well. He isn’t an object of worship, as their deity is Cthulhu.

Cover of  Weird Tales January 1942

It has been speculated (not just by me) that these Deep Ones are the same race mentioned in At the Mountains of Madness as arriving with Cthulhu’s landing on the earth. The so-called Star-Spawn of Cthulhu. These may well be the same race, only evolved over the millions of years. An appearance of the Soggoth at the end of the story, one of the slave race of the Elder Things from At the Mountains of Madness, adds credence in my mind.
A number of adaptations and films have been made from this story, including my favorite Lovecraft film Dagon- which unfortunately I could only find the trailer for. But many of the others are below. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

                                            Cthulhu (2007) full film

                    Escape from Midwich Valley (Innsmouth) short- (2015)

                    Insmus wo Oou Kage (1992 Japanese Television

                                                Dagon (2001) Trailer

                                    Radio Adaptation of the Story