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Who is Cthulhu, and Why is He Calling?

by: Matt Conlon ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

It's unlikely that H.P. Lovecraft was aware of the phenomenon he'd create when first penning the name Cthulhu in the early 1900s. Cthulhu has become a staple with lovers of science fiction and fantasy, and even a tongue in cheek cliché.

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    Cthulhu's Origins

    In the early 1920s, Cthulhu was brought to life by 220px-Cthulhu and R'lyeh H. P. Lovecraft, a writer of Horror. Cthulhu was not the only creature conceived of by this writer. Lovecraft developed a whole fictional mythological structure, now known as the Lovecraft Mythos. It included several God-like creatures.

    Following Cthulhu's first appearance in the 1928 novel "The Call of Cthulhu", a couple other stories by Lovecraft included Cthulhu, though not in any real major roles.

    It's never fully established where the creature known as Cthulhu came from, though it's hinted that his "birth" was connected to a supernova in some far off reaches of space.

    The creature himself is said to be made of some unknown other worldly matter, with a head like an octopus, a scaly body, giant dragon-like wings, and big nasty claws.

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    Pop Culture

    Cthulhu enjoyed a rather heinous reputation in the various works of H. P. Lovecraft, but he (it?) also left enough of a marMythos k to make a very real impact on many aspects of pop culture.

    Many musical pieces were inspired by the stories of Cthulhu, perhaps the most popular of which is an instrumental piece called "The Call of Ktulu" by Metalica.

    Beyond music, there were many appearances of Cthulhu in many different games, including Dungeons and Dragons in the first edition Deities and Demigods (although he was removed from subsequent editions) and the Role-Playing game "Call of Cthulhu" published by Chaosium.

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    Cthulhu Does Comedy

    As with everything else that stands for chaotic, horrible, serious evil, we americans love to make fun of it through jokes and parodies. Not even Cthulhu is safe from our sick and twisted senses of humor.

    Cthulhu appears In the sixth Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer. In this book he's interviewing for the position of god for the newly settled Human colony.

    A web comic, named appropriately Irregular Web comic also had a depiction of Cthulhu as the enemy of Steve Irwin.

    Our disgusting menace was turned all cutesy and dropped into the Hello Kitty world in a web comic called "Hello Cthulhu".

    Perhaps the most popular Cthulhu parody, and certainly my favorite is a YouTube series called "Calls for Cthulhu" where a puppet Cthulhu takes calls from "viewers" and offers them advice.

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    A Call For More Cthulhu!

    Cthulhu is clearly a favorite among the geeks at large, and I'd very much like to hear about your dealings with him! Have you played a game with Cthulhu in it, or ran a game of Call of Cthulhu the Role Playing Game recently and want to share? Have any feedback on the information I provided, or possibly want to expound on anything I said, please post it in the comments below!