{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


Cthulhu God


Happy Cthulhumas. I found the time over the past couple of weeks to finish a piece of art begun in September 2008, something I’d half-completed then abandoned due to pressure of other work. I’d quite forgotten about this until I discovered the files when going through some archive discs. What began as a pencil outline is now a lavish piece of vector art which I’ll shortly be making available as a poster design.


I’ve enjoyed creating vector pictures recently, it’s a different discipline to using Photoshop (although the initial art often starts in the sister application), and the hard lines and flat shapes remind me of the similar effects I used to get when I was painting with gouache. Some areas of this piece remain a little too flat but I didn’t want to start shading everything using gradient meshes; if you start down that road you may as well do the whole thing as a Photoshop painting—or a real painting, for that matter. That said, I wouldn’t mind giving this the hyper-realist treatment at a later date.


The original idea was to do a kind of “Cthulhu Buddha”, something like the above variation only coloured with more finesse. I kept thinking this was an original idea only to belatedly realise when I set the figure against a temple background that I’d been imitating the kind of massive Lovecraftian idols that populate the comic strips of Philippe Druillet. The one below is a good example.


Urm le fou (1975) by Philippe Druillet.


At the Mountains of Madness (1974).

My piece also nods slightly to Ian Miller‘s Lovecraft cover art of the 1970s. I always enjoyed the tiny human figures in the lower left of this illustration, a detail that makes the viewer realise with a start that the rampaging monstrosity in the foreground is enormous. Needless to say, Druillet favours a similar Piranesian effect.

Despite having announced at various times that I’m done with illustrating Lovecraft, it’s become apparent that Cthulhu is a convenient riff to use when exploring different styles of art, like the cosmic horror equivalent of a jazz standard. It’s a creature with a high recognition factor yet Lovecraft never went too far beyond his shorthand description of a “squid dragon” outline to fix the shape of the thing. At the end of The Call of Cthulhu we discover that Cthulhu has a corporeality sufficiently fluid to reassemble itself after being struck by a steamship. That’s always suggested to me that the artist has licence to interpret the squid dragon formula in a variety of ways.

As stated above, I’ll be making this picture available shortly at CafePress and another online sales outlet I was recently asked to join, I just need to find the time to jump through the various uploading hoops. More about that later.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Cthulhu under glass
The monstrous tome
The art of Ian Miller
Cubist Cthulhu



Posted in {art}, {books}, {comics}, {horror}, {illustrators}, {lovecraft}, {work}.

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9 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Gabriel McCann


    A Cthulhu Buddha!!!
    What’s next a Cthulhu Mohammed?

  2. #2 posted by John


    It was mainly the posture rather than it being Buddha per se. Since Mohammed is simply a man in the few representations of him there’s nothing distinctive to use. Rather than Buddha, you could say mine and Druillet’s gods resemble any Eastern idol figure.

  3. #3 posted by Nick Hydra


    Nice. I’ll be buying that then…

  4. #4 posted by Thombeau


    Wow, John, this is spectacular!

  5. #5 posted by Alfie


    Great vector work.

    I actually find zoning out doing vector based work, continually smoothing out lines quite therapeutic.

    Sometimes I find it’s a judgement call to define certain pieces as largely vector based and let it highlight the strengths of Illustrator-based work, super clean lines and definition.

  6. #6 posted by William


    Wonderful work, Mr. C. There IS a reason why I visit your blog every day: always something provocative or wondrous. MANY thanks for all your efforts. My only regret is that you never got a chance to do an album cover for Coil. ;(

  7. #7 posted by John


    Thanks, everyone.

    Alfie: Yes, Illustrator was better in some ways before they incorporated transparency and gradient meshes.

    William: That’s my biggest regret too, was my fault for not making more of the connections I had with them at the time.






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