Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Saturday 9 July 2022

Colouring Cthulhu IV

Okay. Remember back in 2017 and that weird thing when colouring books were popular once again. Not just for children, but for adults. Walk into any bookshop and you could find a colouring book on any subject or for any intellectual property you care to name, from the Harry Potter Colouring Book, the Vogue Colouring Book, and The Kew Gardens Exotic Plants Colouring Book to the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist Colouring Book, the Day of the Dead Colouring Book, and the Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring Book Adventure. I gave them as presents, but in all honesty, I had and have no interest in colouring books. Except that Chaosium, Inc. published a colouring book, one inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It being from Chaosium, Inc. and it being inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft piqued my interest enough to want to review it, but the main reason to do so was to see if I could review an actual colouring book. Well, I could, and the result was a review of Call of Cthulhu – The Coloring Book: 28 Eldritch Scenes of Lovecraftian for you to Color. However, it turns out it was not the only Lovecraft-inspired colouring book.

The latest is Color the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. Published by Mythos Monsters, it is the second colouring book by artist Jacob Walker, following on from the earlier The Colouring Book Out of Space: A Lovecraft inspired adult coloring book. It collects some twenty-five illustrations, in turn portraying some of the classics of Lovecraft’s works and others. This includes Cthulhu, Dagon, Nyarlathotep, The King in Yellow, and more, as well as places such as R’lyeh, the Dreamlands, the Mountains of Madness and beyond. These are all presented on single sheets which are perforated for easy removal and can be coloured in using pencils, inks, or marker pens, depending upon the colourer’s choice.

After the classic quote from The Call of Cthulhu, begins with a depiction of the most iconic of Lovecraft’s creations, Cthulhu himself. In ‘Resurrection in R’lyeh’, he pulls himself up out of the sea under the waxing crescent of the moon, amidst the tops of the non-Euclidian spires of the city below. It is not the only depiction of Cthulhu, the other, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, a close-up of the great god. Numerous gods are illustrated, such as ‘Yig, Father of Serpents’ and ‘Ithaqua Hunting’, whilst in ‘The Crawling Chaos’ he appears in Ancient Egypt, perhaps as the Dark Pharoah, perhaps as The Crawling Chaos itself. Of the various species, an Elder Thing perches atop an obelisk, ‘The Mi-Go of Yuggoth’ appears from nowhere, and a horde of unnamed Deep Ones swarming forth as ‘Dagon Lord of the Deep’ looms… There is often a cosmically comic sensibility too, such as in ‘Alhazred’s Book, The Neccronomicon’, where the scholar is being assailed by tentacles that thrust up from the very book he is studying, or another scholar attempts to ‘Dispel the Horror’. In general, Human involvement is limited to the poor unfortunates facing the ‘Shoggoth from the Void’ or a Ghoul poses as ‘Pickman’s Model’.

The style of Jacob Walker’s artwork here is clear and open with clean lines and plenty of space. There is however, a familiarity to many of the poses, the Mythos often to be found atop something and looming forth out of the picture towards the viewer. This is the case whether it is the batrachian inhabitants with ‘The Innsmouth Look’ looking out at the viewer, the ‘Grave Eating Ghoul’ pulling itself from the graveyard, or the ‘Byakhee Sentinel’.

In terms of inspiration, 
Color the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft draws from Lovecraft’s and others’ fiction to focus upon the gods, the races, the monsters, and more. Barring the aforementioned ‘Pickman’s Model’, there are few if any scenes inspired by or depicted in the fiction. This is very much a monsters of the Mythos colouring book rather than a broader Mythos colouring book. Which is as intended, but it does mean that Color the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft is less useful as a source of inspiration for the Keeper of Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, or as a means to illustrate something in Call of Cthulhu—both advantages held by Chaosium, Inc.’s Call of Cthulhu – The Coloring Book: 28 Eldritch Scenes of Lovecraftian for you to Color. To be fair, Color the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft was not created with either feature drawn in, but any Keeper of Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition expecting them will be disappointed. Of the two, Call of Cthulhu – The Coloring Book: 28 Eldritch Scenes of Lovecraftian for you to Color is definitely the more interesting and has more to say.

Ultimately, that leaves the point of 
Color the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft—the artwork. Clean and simple, every illustration awaits the one thing we are used to seeing in other depictions of the Mythos, and that is colour. The unfussy style of artwork means that this is easy to apply, whether you are a long-time devotee of the Cthulhu Mythos or a three-year-old being introduced to non-Euclidean artwork in readiness for preschool, whether you want to work subtle changes of colour or bold swathes. Color the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft is then simply okay. The illustrations are decent, and whilst the combination of Cosmic Horror and colouring book is still undeniably weird, it is still just okay.

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