A long stretch of lovely early spring weather is beautifying and re-vivifying the winter-blasted terrain around Tentaclii Towers, and the bumble-bees have woken up to bumble about the pussy-willow buds. But this rare weather can’t be enjoyed, except through glass, since the UK is shut-in on our first virii lockdown. My last can of ginger-beer beckons from the fridge, and going out to obtain more may be a bit of a risk, not least from finger-wagging busybodies. This must be how Lovecraft felt during the Spanish Flu.
One bit of good news here is that the self-employed will get a bail-out payment, but we have to wait until the end of June 2020. Though I’m willing to bet that, by the end of May, the seemingly generous terms will have been tightened and altered significantly. Still, some sort of payment may eventually appear, though it will then go straight out again on bills — rather than on having Hippocampus Press send me an eldritch shipping-crate full of all the printed volumes of Lovecraft’s letters. At a pinch the payment might just help me with the $90 or so needed for the vital Family and Family Friends letters from Lovecraft, these being due by the early summer “in a two-volume paperback edition of about 600 pages each” (Joshi).
My thanks to my patrons who have not yet pared back on their monthly Patreon spend and, though my Patreon amount has not risen since last month, it has at least stayed steady at $57 per month. Any additional dollar you can find, or encourage from others, would be most welcome — though I fear we are yet again headed into lean years.
My musings on Lovecraft grew more numerous this month, and I looked into topics such as: the many revisions of “The Strange High House in the Mist”; Lovecraft’s likely reading of Haggard; the timeline and details of his meeting with A. Merritt; and the timeline of Barlow’s age prior to and during their first meeting. I also managed to put in some substantial time on my big Tolkien book.
As for discoveries, I made the very minor discovery of “647” as the road number for Lovecraft’s quarry (yes, newbs, he owned a quarry), and located a picture of where his friend Arthur Leeds was living on Coney Island during the Great Depression. More importantly I realised that aspects of Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep” were inspired by his viewing at the cinema of the notorious film Madchen in Uniform, as evidenced by the Barlow letters I’m currently reading. I’m fairly sure no-one’s ever noticed that link before. Kind of difficult to imagine the ageing Lovecraft sidling into a late-night cinema to see a lesbian schoolgirl movie, but there it is.
I was pleased to discover yet another new journal this month, the open access Journal of Juvenilia Studies, via Ken Faig Jr. in the new issue of The Fossil. I noted that a set of the Lovecraft Annual has appeared in digital form on JSTOR. The Italian Lovecraftians issued issue #9 of their Dimensione Cosmica magazine/journal. A number of scholarly items were added to my Open Lovecraft page, and two call-for-papers were noted, one for papers on Giger’s work other than Alien. There was news of some substantial translation activity in Spain and Holland, as well as the news that Patrice Louinet had successfully defended his thesis on Robert E. Howard at the Sorbonne in Paris.
New books noted were: a Historical Society edition of The Notes and Commonplace Book of H.P. Lovecraft; Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture; The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Monsters; A Century of Weird Fiction, 1832-1937; and The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume One: A Tour of the 1930s. In fiction, I noted a sumptuous new collection of R.E. Howard’s horror fiction, and the new His Own Most Fantastic Creation: stories about H.P. Lovecraft.
Various podcasts were noted, including a new long one with the venerable S.T. Joshi; Archaeological Fantasies on Lovecraft; a rare appreciation of Lovecraft’s “A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson”; and a survey of the rather more popular “Lovecraftian Anime” (the latter post caused a minor surge in traffic). A freebie was found for Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Rats in the Walls, and linked.
My own freebie this month was a timely free chapter from my book Lovecraft in Historical Context #3, “A Real Horror: on the 1918 flu epidemic in Providence”. It was slightly revised and I was able to add another picture from my College St. haul, showing an armed soldier guarding the Wickle Gates during the Spanish Flu.
Derleth’s “Two Gentlemen Meet at Midnight” was found free on Archive.org, and occasioned another release from the cache of old College St. pictures I spent weeks digging up last summer.
In the arts, there was another survey of choice new items on DeviantArt. Borderlands 3 successfully released its Lovecraftian Guns, Love, and Tentacles DLC, and various other creative items were noted or used to illustrate posts.
My new £250 HP Z600 workstation PC fares well, last mentioned in my February Tentaclii summary. There’s now a complete technical write-up and long review of the Z600 in the latest Digital Art Live magazine, #47 (March 2020). It seemed faintly ridiculous at the time to be spending a week wrangling and reviewing a refurbished £250 workstation, even if it did have 12 fast Xeon cores well-suited to the Poser and Vue software. But it now seems a very timely review, as millions of digital creatives suddenly plunge into poverty and can no longer afford the prospect of a new £3,000 workstation. Also, in Digital Art Live‘s monthly sister-title VisNews, I interview the Lovecraftian comics artist and Lovecraft adapter Matt Timson (VisNews #8, March 2020, which I edit as part of a monthly subscription-club package for makers of digital comics and storybooks). We hope to also have a long interview with him in the May issue of Digital Art Live, likely to be out by the middle of May 2020. He uses Poser, SketchUp, Clip Studio (aka Manga Studio).
But before then the mid-April issue of Digital Art Live will be themed “The Lost Temple”, and will focus around mysterious jungle ruins and exotic flora. It will also feature a long interview with a major twentieth century movie-maker, laboriously mined and assembled from the public domain and illustrated with enhanced press pictures.
Thanks for reading, and stay well clear of the horrid floaty shoggoths!