Vacation Necronomicon School, summer 2010 reading assignment for 29th July 2010: “Plush Cthulhi”.

“Your short assignment today […] Should Cthulhu ever be cute? What are the underlying sociological implications of the current cute Cthulhu trend?

TASK FOUR: 29th July 2010.

Ultimate spawn-baby of the home-brew cottage industry in Lovecraftiana, plush / vinyl / cut-out / knitted / resin / 3D-printed / kit-modded Cthulhi are the blogger-friendly stars of the age of the mass Internet (1995-?). They fling strangled LOLcats aside with ease, and rise to claim the topmost position of an increasingly large pile of clever and intricate and amusing re-workings of public domain / Creative Commons materials. Tethered by no grasping literary estate, no descendants of some hideously distant cousin of the author, they are free to rampage across the blogosphere. Yet there they remain. They cannot break through to ravage the outer world of Woolworths and Homes & Gardens. Are the hand-made ones profitable? Probably not. Or not very. The time put into making such crafts usual barely outweighs the profits. They make enough to pay for one’s food and drink at a Cthulhucon, perhaps. And doubtless there’s some marketing value — hang a big cute one on your convention sales table, to attract the Call of Cthulhu RPG gamer-kiddies and give the shy ones a conversational opener. But how many who approach will have read more than one or two of the original stories, and then only in RPG game books? Very few. Which perhaps begs the question: is the literary Lovecraft really popular any more? He certainly was in the 1930s, and again in the late 1960s/70s. But is he now slowly being fossilized in print?

Further open-access online reading:

Cthulhu is not cute! by Erik Davis.

Kraken Rising : how the cephalopod became our zeitgeist mascot by Mark Dery.