Why Cthulhumaniacs Exists
Over the last 12 months struggling with the challenges of Covid lock-downs, the shifting economy, and the unexpected effects of both on my life, I found comfort in several ways both old and new; by spending time with my family, computer gaming, role-playing and tabletop gaming both in person and virtually, cycling (when lock-downs let me) and in the act of creation.
For example, over the last year I started playing Tabletop RPGs regularly again. For over a year now I have been running the horror role-playing game Call of Cthulhu virtually for one of my sons and some friends. Using the Roll20 gaming service I found it difficult to invoke some of the feeling of intimacy and shared experience across the isolated individuals of the group. I realized I wanted impactful imagery and props that brought the story to life, such as a letter or photograph that I felt added to the feel of the 1920s era and the shared existential horror. I had limited funds with which to acquire additional assets on Roll20, but still wanted vivid imagery. I had to develop them myself.
All of this led to me trying to create images that reflected my ideas. Unfortunately, I am a less than skilled artist and could not feed my muse. My limited drawing skills were frustrating, but I did not want to give up and that led me to ‘art bashing.’ This being the ‘art’ of taking parts of images and bashing them together to make something new.
Now, this has become a hobby and is no longer just what I create for the games. I often jot down snippets of ideas, humorous, whimsical or shocking images that I will try and bring to life when I have some quiet time or just need a break from everything. Often these reflect my interests in the moment or from my increased interest in the Cthulhu mythos and its evolution from Lovecraft across the myriad writers both screen and page that have come after.
To be clear, Lovecraft was a truly racist and misogynistic person which makes some of his stories quite hard to stomach. I am thankful that later writers were not as misguided. Recent literary and cinematic writers have taken the mythos, imagery and existential horror of his writing legacy to make it their own and create modern tales or confront the legacy head-on. Thankfully, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu- particularly the more recent releases both acknowledge and work to address some of this legacy and it is pleasing to see as is the shift to inclusive gaming that is happening today.
Personally, I encountered the mythos in my late teens when Call of Cthulhu first came out as an early alternative to Dungeons and Dragons. The short, horrific adventures which typically resulted in character insanity and death were a sharp contrast to the D&D Style roleplaying at that time.
The images, emotions, and existential horror in the mythos have also curiously resonated with the challenges of the last year where beliefs that you are truly in control of your life and understood what was next has been put into question.
Recently I have started wondering if the images I have created, while not mainstream, might be marketable to others with a quirky sense of humor or interest in games, roleplaying or a general, wry geekiness.
Hopefully the proffered shirts and merchandise are unique enough to draw the interest of those it suits. And to those people, I offer cthulhumaniacs.com.