Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an American author specializing in the genre of "weird fiction".
The Lovecraft Circle and the Cthulhu Mythos
H.P. Lovecraft is most widely recognized for creating a pantheon of cosmic beings commonly known as the "Great Old Ones", and being the origin of the Cthulhu Mythos, though he never intended to do so, as stated by August Derleth (a fellow writer and correspondent of Lovecraft), who coined the name, structured the stories in that continuity, and greatly expanded it (through his publishing activity as Arkham House, and by writing his own Cthulhu Mythos.
Lovecraft corresponded many writers (and often became friend with them, with or without meeting them in person), with which he exchanged ideas, suggestions and corrections for their respective stories. Many of that "Lovecraft Circle" authors produced the basis of what became known as the Cthulhu Mythos. Aside from Derleth, who gathered the Mythos together after Lovecraft's death and produced many stories, most prominent were writer Robert E. Howard (who created Conan the Barbarian, Kull of Atlantis, Dark Agnes, Solomon Kane, and many other characters, some with more or less connection to what became the Mythos) and writer, poet and sculptor Clark Ashton Smith (who wrote the the Zothique Cycle, Averoigne, and the Hyperborean Cycle, among others).
Legacy in Marvel Comics
Lovecraft's work has been adapted several times in various Marvel Comics projects, including one-shots in horror anthologiesduring the 70's, all written or edited by Roy Thomas, a limited-series of one-shots, Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft, written and penciled by Richard Corben, and looser adaptations fully integrated to the Marvel Universe.
Influence on the Marvel Universe
Lovecraft's work has laid the groundwork for many other characters and work of fiction. In Marvel Comics, many of his creations were introduced (often as mere mentions, similarly to the style of the Cthulhu Mythos' cryptic name-droppings, while many subjects and storylines were inspired by his fiction, such as the Serpent-Men of Starkesboro (based on the Deep Ones of Insmouth), Magneto's island-base in the Bermuda Triangle and R'llyeh (among others inspired by R'lyeh), or Chthon (sometimes described as a stand-in for Cthulhu).
Doctor Strange villain and lord of the Great Old Ones Shuma-Gorath is sometimes stated to have inspired by the Lovecraft creation H.P. Lovecraft's creation Shub-Niggurath (a name which possibly inspired Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan, Kull, Red Sonja, Solomon Kane, and many other characters, as well as another fellow writer, Cthulhu Mythos contributor, and correspondent of Lovecraft) in the short story "The Curse of the Golden Skull" (published posthumously in 1967), where "the Iron-Bound Books of Shuma Gorath" were mentioned.
The Cthulhu Mythos side of the Cthulhu Mythos (whether adapted from Lovecraft's works, or inspired by it) are introduced in a variety of series, but especially through some storylines and characters:
- Doctor Strange stories often have the Master of Mystic Arts and Protector of the Earth Dimension battling eldritch beings, including various encounter with the Great Old Ones (especially their lord Shuma-Gorath), as well as their servants and spawns. Such stories include "They Walk by Night!" (Doctor Strange #183; November, 1969), Marvel Premiere #4-10 (September, 1972 to September, 1973)., Strange Tales (Vol. 2) #1-19 (April, 1987 to October, 1988).
- Horror stories anthologies from the 70's included adaptations of Lovecraft's stories: "The Terrible Old Man" in Tower of Shadows #3 (January, 1970) and Masters of Terror #1 (May, 1975), "The Music From Beyond" in Chamber of Darkness #5 (June, 1970), "Pickman's Model" in Tower of Shadows #9 (January, 1971), "The Haunter of the Dark" in Journey into Mystery (Vol. 2) #4 (April, 1973). References and appearances were also made in original stories, such as "The Death-Dealing Mannikin" (Monsters Unleashed #3; November, 1973), and "Tales of the Zombie!: Damballah's Deeds" (Bizarre Adventures #33; December, 1982)
- Monsters Unleashed was revived in vol. 3 as an ongoing series about a Inhuman monsters summoner. "Learning Curve, Part Two: Pacific Rising... and Rising... and Rising!" (Monsters Unleashed (Vol. 3) #10; January, 2018) included references and original creations heavily inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Conan the Barbarian stories (October, 1970 - ongoing), which are tied to the Cthulhu Mythos due to the relation of his creator, Robert E. Howard. They introduce various eldritch beings, ancient cities, and evil sorcerers, either adaptations from the works of Lovecraft, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and others, or original creations. Examples include "The Web Tightens" (Conan the Barbarian #141; December, 1982), "Valley Beyond the Stars" (Savage Sword of Conan #152; September, 1988), or the second tale of "The Three Deaths of Conan" (Savage Sword of Conan #176; August, 1990). Also by Robert E. Howard, Kull of Atlantis and Bran Mak Morn also ties with Lovecraft's stories, from Marvel stories and from adaptations, with the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Namor the Submariner stories, either as a member of the Defenders along Doctor Strange or developing the early years of Atlantis and its struggles with the Great Old Ones, eldritch beings that ruled earth and seas before the rise of man, and their minions. Such stories includes Namor the Sub-Mariner #34-40 (January to July, 1993), Namor: The First Mutant #1-4 (August to November, 2010), Fear Itself: The Deep #1-4 (June to September, 2011), King in Black: Namor #1-5 (December, 2020 to April, 2021). Such stories often are Lovecraftian tie-ins to events themselves including horror elements (Curse of the Mutants, Fear Itself, King in Black).
- Previously presented mostly as aliens, the Symbiotes (Klyntar) have become associated with the eldritch side of Marvel:
- In Carnage (Vol. 2) #1-Carnage (Vol. 2) #16 (November, 2015 to January, 2017), Cletus Kasady and his symbiote Carnage were associated to the Elder God Chthon (with a depiction and description closely related to Cthulhu) and to the Darkhold (the equivalent of the Necronomicon in the Marvel Universe, in which it is also the source of the Necronomicon).
- The Symbiotes were later revealed to be creation of Knull, an elder god also known as the King in Black (also the name of an event centered where he acts as main antagonist), the God of the Abyss and of the Void.
- Others entities have been introduced in "cosmic" series and events (Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Inhumans, Kree, Skrulls, Shi'ar...):
- Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill #3-5 (May to July, 2005) introduced Asteroth, a cosmic demon allegedly from the beginning of creation and imprisoned into a "cosmic hell" dimension. Asteroth was later explicitly associated to the Great Old Ones.
- The Many-Angled Ones, another name for the Great Old Ones were introduced in Realm of Kings and Thanos Imperative (2009 to 2011), and they and/or their minions notably returned in Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 3) #18-20 (August to October, 2014), Nova (Vol. 7) #1-7 (December, 2016 to June, 2017), and Annihilation - Scourge (November to December, 2019).
- Though, references or inspiration from the Cthulhu Mythos and Lovecraft have been seeded in many other series (whether appearances or mentions to characters, locations, books, etc. created in the Mythos, or inspired by it), including the X-Men and other mutant series and characters (with focuses on Island M and on the N'Garai), Wolverine, Magik, the Avengers, or Tarzan (which ties together Lovecraft's Abdul Alhazred with Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar, invented by Edgar Rice Burroughs in "At the Earth's Core" (1914), which was possibly an inspiration for Lovecraft's stories "The Nameless City" (1921) and "At the Mountains of Madness" (written in 1931, published in 1936).
List of adaptations
The following stories and poems of H.P. Lovecraft were adapted more or less closely to the original material:
- "The Terrible Old Man" (Tryout; July, 1921) was adapted in Tower of Shadows #3 (January, 1970), written by Roy Thomas and penciled by Barry Smith. It was reprinted in Masters of Terror #1 (May, 1975).
- "The Music of Erich Zann" (National Amateur; March, 1922) was adapted in Chamber of Darkness #5 (June, 1970), as "The Music From Beyond", written Roy Thomas and penciled by Johnny Craig. "The Music of Erich Zann" was adapted again by Richard Corben in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #2 (September, 2008) under its original title.
- "Pickman's Model" (Weird Tales; October, 1927) in Tower of Shadows #9 (January, 1971), written in Roy Thomas and penciled by Tom Palmer.
- "The Call of Cthulhu" (Weird Tales; February, 1928), though never officially adapted in Marvel Comics, was an heavy influence on "The Summons of Psyklop" (Avengers #88; May, 1971), written by Harlan Ellison and Roy Thomas and penciled by Sal Buscema, including the scene where cops interrupt a "voodoo" ceremony in the Bayou.
- "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (Visionary Publishing Company; November 1936), though never officially adapted in Marvel Comics, was an heavy influence on "The Spawn of Sligguth!" (Marvel Premiere #4; September, 1972), written by Roy Thomas and Archie Goodwin and penciled by Barry Smith and Frank Brunner, in which Doctor Strange accompany a man returning to his home town, where the inhabitants are in fact humans-turned-Serpent-Men serving eldritch powers.
- "The Haunter of the Dark" (Weird Tales; December, 1936) was adapted in Journey into Mystery (Vol. 2) #4 (April, 1973), written by Ron Goulart and penciled by Gene Colan.
- "At the Mountains of Madness" (Astounding Stories; February, March, and April, 1936), though never officially adapted in Marvel Comics, was credited for concepts in "Into the Frozen Land" and "Within the Mountain of Madness!", parts 2 and 3 of "Into the Frozen Land" in Conan the Savage #3 and #4 (October and November, 1995), written by Roy Thomas and penciled by Mike Docherty. This story involved Robert E. Howard's Conan visiting the Mountains of Madness, learning of the Elder Things' history, witnessing a frozen specimen, and battling a Shoggoth, and also included concepts from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym", which was one of the inspirations of Lovecraft for "At the Mountains of Madness".
- "Dagon" (The Vagrant #11; November, 1919) in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1 (August, 2008) by Richard Corben.
- "Fungi from Yuggoth" (written from 27 December, 1929 to 4 January, 1930) in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1 and #2 (August and September, 2008) by Richard Corben: "Recognition" as "The Scar", and "A Memory", in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #1. "The Canal, and "The Lamp", in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #2.
- "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and his Family" (The Wolverine; June, 1921), as "Arthur Jermyn", in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #3 (October, 2008) by Richard Corben.
- "The Well", in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #3 (October, 2008) by Richard Corben.
- "The Window", in Haunt of Horror: Lovecraft #3 (October, 2008) by Richard Corben.
Appearances in the Marvel Universe
- Lovecraft has been established to exist in Marvel universes, and to have wrote about certain entities that exist within those universes (It isn't revealed how he came in knowledge of those creatures, or if other H.P. Lovecraft's material in the Earth-1218 universe were also documented by those counterparts):
- In Earth-616, Thunderbolts Annual (Vol. 2) #1 (December 18, 2013) established that Lovecraft wrote about the True Faeries, refereed to as Old Ones.
- In Earth-1610, Ultimate Fantastic Four #31 (August, 2006) established that Lovecraft wrote about the great old ones, including Zvilpogghua, the Feaster from the Stars.
- Robert Bloch (yet another fellow writer, Cthulhu Mythos contributor, and correspondent) wrote "The Shambler From the Stars" (adapted in Journey into Mystery (Vol. 2) #3; February, 1973) in which he had a reclusive scholar living in Providence, based on Lovecraft, killed. Lovecraft replied with "The Haunter of the Dark" (Weird Tales; December, 1936; adapted in Journey into Mystery (Vol. 2) #4; April, 1973), in which Robert Blake, based on Robert Bloch, was killed as well.
- The central author of the Cthulhu Mythos, Lovecraft is himself a character within the Mythos, mentioned in "Beyond the Threshold" (1941) and "The Dweller in Darkness", stories by August Derleth, as as an author existing within the Mythos' universe.