But what, in short, is really this green, octopus-headed, many-loved horror? It's mentioned in a number of Lovecraft's tales, and tales by others trying to emulate his style, but is the focus of the short story "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928). A carved idol representing the monster is described thusly: "A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind." He came from the stars to the primitive earth with a horde of his "star spawn", and fought other alien races, before retreating into his tomb/sleeping chamber on the island of R'lyeh, which sank into the ocean. Bad omens and hinted at portents reveal that he will eventually wake up, and bring doom to our civilization.
Cthulhu is generally portrayed in a myriad of very similar interpretations, and the web is teeming with them. Mostly, Cthulhu looks like he's been working out quite a bit in his crypt over the millennia, and can't wait to flex his muscles before the horrified gaze of mankind.
Lovecraft did at least a couple of sketches in letters, revealing how he saw his creation himself. This version is a rubbery, bulbous, seemingly six-eyed abomination, that has actually been realized as a cast resin sculpture, available for sale on some websites.
So, why haven't I made my own, stop-mo version of the great Cthulhu yet? Well, I haven't had a project for him. But now I have. I won't be doing "The Call of Cthulhu" as that one has already been lovingly recreated on film by the Lovecraft Historical Society. Instead I have a few other ideas, which I will talk about in detail in a while.
Lovecraft fans are quite vocal about their dislike for half-baked or totally erroneous interpretations of Lovecraft's visions. Hollywood has rightly taken the brunt of this critique. Amateur filmmakers usually avoid taking on stories that demand the recreations of Lovecraft's more elaborate creatures, instead focusing on tales that are driven by suggestions and atmosphere. I enjoy taking the other route. However, instead of burying myself in pictorial research on Cthulhu I just jumped into the creation of my puppet, opting to work as fast as I could, simply driven by my impressions of the character. The head sculpture in Chavant clay was not overworked. I added three eyes on either side, and stopped as soon as I thought I had captured the essence of the monster.
Here's the puppet with a light coating of PAX paint (Pros-Aide glue plus acrylic paint)..
..And here it is with acrylic airbrush shading and detailing.
Elfwood and Deviantart.