My round-up of ‘the year in Lovecraft’:
The highlight of the year must be the publication of Lovecraft’s Letters to E. Hoffmann Price and Richard F. Searight, complete with the New Orleans curry recipe! Yet more is to come, as a successful crowdfunder purchased the Lovecraft-Long letters and ferried them to safety at the John Hay Library. It was recently announced that David E. Schultz has already done the bulk of the work on preparing these letters for publication, and that S.T. Joshi is now at work on the same. Joshi notes that their “intellectual content … is unsurpassed”. A broad multi-year schedule was also announced by Joshi for the completion of the publication of the many volumes of Lovecraft letters. Also of note in originals, this year Lovecraft’s handwritten “Pickman’s Model” came up for public auction.
Among his vast output S.T. Joshi published his book The Recognition of H.P. Lovecraft on the reception of Lovecraft over the decades, a new essay collection The Progression of the Weird Tale (mostly on Lovecraft/Barlow and Lovecraft/Long), and two volumes of his new annual scholarly mega-journal Penumbra. The Lovecraft Annual 2021 also shipped under his editorship, and I reviewed the 2020 edition here at length. His S.T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship at Brown remained suspended by Brown during the pandemic.
The 2020 book Ideology and Scientific Thought in H.P. Lovecraft was revealed to have been definitely written in English throughout, as in 2021 S.T. Joshi bagged a physical copy and blogged about it. Lovecraft: The Great Tales appeared, a weighty new non-fiction survey of the tales by Derleth expert John D. Haefele. There was advance news of a new uniform set of books called the Robert H. Waugh Library of Lovecraftian Criticism, including a wholly new third book of essays by Waugh. Among various scholarly reprints, Donald R. Burleson’s Lovecraft: Disturbing the Universe became available as a new ebook edition. Also in ebook, the Lovecraft ‘autobiography’ Lord of a Visible World can now be had from Amazon for just £5 (about $8).
In smaller one-off publications, the apparently-new scholarly booklet Copyright Questions and the Stories of H.P. Lovecraft appeared. For Lovecraft’s birthday I gave the second edition of Lovecraft’s collected poetry the back-of-the-book index it was lacking. This free PDF should be especially useful for many, as the book lacks an ebook edition which could be searched by keyword.
For researchers Archive.org uploaded numerous long runs of microfilmed vintage journal titles, about 15 of which are useful for researching Lovecraft and his times. In more contemporary scholarly work, the Tentaclii ‘Open Lovecraft’ page has so far added 17 new links to open scholarly work published in open-access in 2021. Including one substantial open Phd thesis. More items have been added there as fill-ins in various other years.
In Italy the Italian translators of Joshi’s Lovecraft biography I Am Providence have reportedly published all three volumes as Io Sono Providence: la biografia di H.P. Lovecraft. Journals such as Circulo de Lovecraft, Ulthar, Zothique, Studi Lovecraftiani continued to publish, and Cthulhu Libria set itself up as a proper journal and published its second issue. There was a festschrift book of essays in Italian for the major Italian scholar and Lovecraftian anthologist Gianfranco de Turris.
Lovecraft’s poetry is now available in a Swedish translation. Leslie Klinger’s Annotated Lovecraft is now complete in two volumes in German translation. H.P. Lovecraft was also suddenly popular in Hungary, with the nation enjoying a string of new pocket-book editions with fine translations.
Spanish speakers had a book on Lovecraft and astronomy, El Astronomicon Y Otros Textes En Defense De La Ciencia (‘The Astronomicon and Other Texts in Defence of Science’), and there are possibly other books in Spanish that I haven’t noticed yet. The Mexican Lovecraftians appear to have had a face-to-face ‘Lovecraft birthday’ symposium in Mexico City in 2021.
French tourists to Providence now have a new guidebook in French, Le guide Lovecraftien de Providence (2021). Having crowd-funded nearly 400,000 Euros ($450,000) for a new French translation in a seven volume boxed-set, the public-sale shipping dates for the volumes were announced. Also in French, S.T. Joshi’s blog noted the short books Lovecraft, l’Arabe, l’horreur and Lovecraft: sous le signe du chat.
Historians of the Amateur Journalism movement continued their dedicated work in The Fossil journal, and in one issue David Goudsward presented a rich seam of new data about the early life of Lovecraft’s friend and colleague Mrs Miniter. Later amateur science-fiction ‘zines have also seen worthy work, and The Hevelin Fanzines collection scans are now 100% transcribed for researchers. The Hevelin Fanzines include a number of key early Lovecraft ‘zines, and the collection is free online.
In travel books the short Long/Lovecraft-related book Old World Footprints reappeared as a reprint, newly annotated and richly illustrated. The long-awaited book Tour de Lovecraft: The Destinations is said to have finally shipped. My blog Tentaclii took many ‘virtual trips’ to investigate various places relevant to or known by Lovecraft, from the Weird Tales offices to the remote Newport coves he visited on some of his last trips.
On the history of Weird Tales magazine, 2021 saw a new edition of Robert Weinberg’s book The Weird Tales Story: Expanded and Enhanced, under a new editor and expanded with new essays. Various journals including The Pulpster continued to ably cover the wider history of pulp magazines and their heroes, and blogs also provided many useful introductory surveys on niche topics and characters in the pulps. Writers of the ‘new pulp’ continue to power thriving new original-story magazines, and I get the feeling that this may have taken some of the wind out of the sails (and sales) of Mythos fiction. But perhaps that is simply due to the pandemic’s effect on the demand for horror. Although, that said, non-Lovecraft horror comics have had a fairly good ‘if still somewhat niche’ year.
In terms of the ‘Lovecraft Circle’, the book The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poems of Clark Ashton Smith appeared in an affordable format. The expanded book Out of the Immortal Night: Selected Works of Samuel Loveman was published, with a wealth of new material. Donald Wandrei’s The Complete Ivy Frost story collection shipped. Here at Tentaclii I continued to find various new bits of data about Arthur Leeds and Everett McNeil of the Lovecraft Circle, both of whom are rather more interesting than the Lovecraftians of the 1980s and 90s assumed. November saw Sonia’s sumptuous amateur journal The Rainbow, Vol. 2 No. II (1922) arrive on Archive.org as an excellent scan, this being an important and rare Lovecraft document with photographs.
There was of course a lot of R.E. Howard activity in 2021. The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, Volume 1 shipped. Todd B. Vick’s new accessible biography Renegades and Rogues: The Life and Legacy of Robert E. Howard had a number of reviews. The Dark Man (the R.E. Howard journal) shipped, and in 2021 had several items of Lovecraft interest. Fred Blosser offered his ebook Exploring the Worlds of REH #3, “Home, Hearth, Heroes, and Hauntings: Howard’s Texas Weird Tales”. The Robert E. Howard Days 2021 were successful held in Texas, with Roy Thomas as the prestigious guest of honour, and dates were announced for 2023. Also of note is the collection Robert E. Howard Changed My Life (reminiscences about individual discovery and appreciation of Howard’s work and life), and what appears to be a ‘journal-artbook’ The Robert E. Howard Collector Volume One: Illustrating Robert E. Howard.
I hardly cover Mythos fiction or contemporary novels here, but Providence Blue seems worthy of note. A major new mystery-adventure novel featuring Lovecraft, R.E. Howard (and possibly Wilum Pugmire) as characters, and written from a Catholic perspective. Sadly this currently lacks an ebook and audiobook.
On the screen The Lone Animator continued making his excellent stop-motion animated shorts, also providing long ‘making of’ blog posts. In film, the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival returned to Providence and there showcased the wide range of recent indie productions. But I shall have to leave it to someone else to survey the year’s ‘Lovecraft on the Screen’ for 2021.
In spoken audio the Voluminous podcast (reading and discussion of key Lovecraft’s letters) continued. Dark Adventure Radio Theatre shipped their CD for “The Horror in the Museum”. “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” Vinyl LP Box Set, from quality vinyl purveyors Psilowave Records, apparently shipped at Halloween. Also in spoken audio there were of course numerous podcasts and numerous story readings during the year, including S.T. Joshi interviews, and with Horrorbabble offering especially notable and regular story-reading work on YouTube. Some of the more obscure Lovecraft items and poems, and even some letters, are now getting good readings. There also seems to have been an upsurge of Lovecraft YouTube readings in languages other than English, and Clark Ashton Smith is also a beneficiary of this trend.
In classical music there was the new “A Symphony of Galpin”, Reber Clark’s orchestration of Galpin’s “Lament for HPL”. In popular music there were of course numerous rock / heavy metal / prog albums and EPs which claimed to have strong Lovecraftian influences and lyrics. I also recall a couple of ambient / soundscape albums in that line.
In digital arts there were superb ‘3D human’ H.P. Lovecraft demo renders by Khoi Nguyen, which sadly surfaced too late to feature in the Lovecraft-friendly Halloween ‘Gothic’ edition of Digital Art Live magazine. Lovecraft and the Lovecraftian remains a popular niche on digital art showcase sites such as ArtStation and DeviantArt.
Traditional arts & crafts seemed somewhat lacking this year, despite the worthy tracking work of Propnomicon. Possibly this was due to the lack of conventions and the closure of white-walled galleries during the pandemic, and the general impoverishment of many artists (crafts are expensive). But perhaps there is crafts work going on in out-sheds and attics that will appear in 2023.
In comics the manga master Junji Ito offered in English his new and ambitious Lovecraftian 240-page graphic novel called Sensor. It’s quite possible that many other Lovecraftian manga works appeared in 2021, but Sensor was the one that grabbed the western reviewers. There was a new graphic novel adapting Dream-quest in Spanish, H.P. Lovecraft: Kadath by screenwriter Florentino Florez. A new 64-page anthology comic, Nightmares of Providence #1, was a hit stretch-goal anthology as part of a big Alan Moore crowd-funder.
In illustrated books / art-novels, Gary Gianni’s heavily illustrated The Call of Cthulhu book shipped. Francois Baranger shipped the second volume of his acclaimed oversized cinematic art-novel for Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.
In games a new essay-book from Carlos Gomez Gurpegui of Spain examined H.P. Lovecraft et le jeu video (‘H.P. Lovecraft and the videogame’). The arty Myst-like Lovecraftian one-man indie videogame The Shore was released, becoming a modest critical success in a very crowded and hyper-critical market. Numerous other ‘Lovecraft-influenced’ games and mods appeared as usual, on almost a weekly basis, and some were quite major titles.
In RPGs the German Lovecraft Society provided Germans with their full completed FHTAGN book, this being a wholly open and royalty-free Lovecraft RPG said to be based on Delta Green. Doubtless there was also much other Chaosium and non-Chaosium Lovecraft-related activity in the world of table-top RPGs and wargaming, but I don’t keep track of such things here. Someone else will have to summarise the year in RPGs and videogames.
That’s it for 2021. Onward to 2023!