Dark World Quarterly’s new post “Mark of the Monster: Jack Williamson’s Lovecraftian Lapse” takes a look at the May 1937 Weird Tales cover-story tale “The Mark of the Monster”. Reading it, one glimpses the possibility that editor Farnsworth Wright hoped he had found a somewhat more downmarket and pliable ‘Lovecraft Mk. II’.
But a few issues later the published letters from readers called the cover-story a stolidly written formula shocker, found its clunky ending unworthy of Weird Tales, and observed that the story was… “a blurred carbon copy of late HPL’s classic The Dunwich Horror”. The experiment doesn’t appear to have been repeated.
A few months later one can find Wright trying a different angle on Lovecraft. Tucked away in the back of the August 1937 issue of Weird Tales Wright ran the short and more amusing “The Terrible Parchment” by Manly Wade Wellman. This is not a ‘Lovecraft as character’ tale, though he’s certainly strongly there in the background and is named several times, and there’s a footnote indicating this is a Lovecraft-tribute story. Yet it does feature one of his key creations, The Necronomicon. As such, it would probably merit at least a footnote in a hypothetical “Lovecraft as Character” encyclopaedia.
I suspect there may be more ‘tributes’ and tangential nods like this to be found, before the war broke out and Derleth and his lawyers began firing off warning letters. It might be useful for a future Lovecraft Annual to have a complete survey and chronology of such creative reactions to Lovecraft’s death, April 1937 – summer 1939? I don’t have the collectable source material to be able to do that, but those with a large collection might consider such a thing.