I apologize for the title.
|Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Author H.P. Lovecraft is considered by some to be one of the biggest influences on modern
fantasy, science fiction and horror. His world of cosmic monstrosities, impossible dimensions
and abstract evils has been cited as a major inspiration by such macabre masterminds as
Clive Barker, Stephen King, Junji Ito, Neil Gaiman, Mike Mignola, H.R. Giger, John
Carpenter and many, many more. His most famous creation, the tentacled Cthulhu, has long
been an icon of geek subculture, and steadily crept more and more into mainstream awareness
- including a handful of memorable appearances in cartoon shows.
Now, if you ask me, Cthulhu is among of the least intriguing of Lovecraft's monsters, but I still get
some geeky satisfaction out of seeing him crop up in popular TV shows, especially since he
has yet to star in a major theatrical film. Cameos by Jason, Freddy or the Alien are to be
expected from time to time, but a monster from literature still feels just a tiny bit more exclusive.
We'll be running down the Great Old One's animated roles in chronological order, rather than
order of coolness like I normally do, and skipping over more minor references in favor of shows
that actually focused on Lovecraftian horror for at least a whole episode. We begin with an
example of great personal significance to me:
|THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS - Collect Call of Cathulhu (sic)
|If you're wondering why this unique episode didn't make it into my Real Ghostbusters feature,
I've been saving it a long time for an article like this one. It was actually the very first episode of
the series I ever saw, though at the time, the Mythos references were lost on me. All I knew was
that the 'busters were up against a bunch of freaky tentacle creatures, and that was enough to
earn them one more regular viewer. Today, I can better appreciate that a children's show in the
80's would devote an entire story to 1920's occult horror literature.
The episode revolves around a cult of Cthulhu worshipers acquiring the Necronomicon from
Arkham university, all major elements from Lovecraft's stories. Using the ancient tome, they
intend to awaken Cthulhu from the depths of the sea to destroy mankind.
Before we meet the big guy, our heroes encounter Cthulhu's Star Spawn in the sewers, which
have a very cool design by Fil Barlow. Of course, these monsters aren't the ectoplasmic
manifestations we're accustomed to, and can't be trapped with Ghostbusting gear. Our heroes
are forced to run, and soon drop in on a Cthulhu cult meeting.
The cultists make a getaway by summoning another Lovecraftian beast, a Shoggoth. Described
in At the Mountains of Madness as a black, amoeboid mass with hundreds of green eyes, this
interpretation is a cool mollusk-like blob, fitting in with the style of the spawn seen earlier.
When we finally see Cthulhu himself, he's quite a bit more original than the depictions we usually
see these days. He's got goopy tentacles everywhere, radially symmetrical eyes and flabby,
blobby legs...probably much closer to the alien being Lovecraft himself envisioned.
Now, Cthulhu's fanboys would probably insist that the Great Old One is unbeatable, but
defeating undefeatable evil deities has been the Ghostbuster's speciality since they first took
down Gozer, and Egon, both the brains and the balls of the team, hatches an almost
inconceivably bad-ass plan: lure Cthulhu into an abandoned amusement park during a
thunderstorm and harness both the lightning and proton beams to turn an entire roller coaster
into an electric fence. Honestly, how would that not defeat Cthulhu?
Belonging to the 90's cartoon family that included Tiny Toons, Animaniacs and Pinky & the
Brain, Freakazoid was, in my opinion, the funniest of the bunch. The dangerously crazy, goofy
hero would take on a lot of weird villains, but one of the weirdest was Jeepers, a creepy little
man who appeared in more than one episode only to get yelled at by Freakazoid for, well, just
being a creepy little man.
Jeepers finally snaps in the episode Statuesque, when he creates an enchanted watch able to
turn living things into stone. When Freakazoid confiscates it, Jeepers checks out a special book
from the Sorcery Barn and summons Vorn: The Unspeakable, an obvious Cthulhu proxy, who
helps him retrieve the watch and petrify Freakazoid's girlfriend.
Jeepers and Vorn make a pretty entertaining duo, and even develop a cutely disturbing
friendship along the way, arguing more like a married couple than villain and minion. It's just too
bad the series would get cancelled before we saw their relationship develop any further.
|THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY & MANDY - Crank Call of Cthulhu
In one of the longest running and most successful Cartoon Network series, hopelessly imbecilic
Billy and hopelessly pessimistic Mandy are only grade school children, but hang out with (and
torment) Grim, the specter of death himself, getting into all sorts of amusing, creepy and just
plain stupid adventures.
In this particularly amusing, creepy and stupid adventure, Billy can't resist making prank phone
calls until he's been banned from every phone in the house...except the one he finds in Grim's
spooky old trunk. The phone turns out to be a portal to another dimension, where Cthulhu runs
an entire telemarketing business that transforms victims into monsters.
Billy is immediately hired by the Old One's firm for his dialing skills, and enjoys his new job a
little too much...even when his bulbous nose transforms into a freudian, tentacle-lined orifice
infested with flying Billy-spawn.
Billy's parents and many other Endsville inhabitants are transformed into all manner of cosmic
horrors - I especially like the tentacled mass Billy's hot teacher turns into, becoming a good
12-13% hotter in the process.
Cthulhu himself has a very cute design here, and would look right at home in some 1940's
theatrical cartoon. I really like the ammonite-like head and the blue lips. Pink and purple is also
a much cooler choice than the usual green.
Mandy eventually disposes of the alien god by simply luring him through the phone and pulling
the cable, trapping him somewhere between dimensions. At least we got to see Cthulhu playing
golf...it was about damn time.
|JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED - The Terror Beyond
This two-part episode of Justice League is a tad convoluted and would take an awful lot of
explaining, but heroes and villains alike (including the lovable corpse, Solomon Grundy) are
brought together in the war on Icthultu, a cosmic being that destroys worlds. Apparently, the
writers weren't aware that Cthulhu is public domain.
Now, the story might be messy, but this semi-Cthulhu actually has my favorite design on this
whole damn page, consisting of many, many branching tentacles radiating from an inhuman
face and ending in innumerable eyeballs! Best of all, the monster's booming voice is performed
by Rob Zombie.
Icthulthu commands a veritable army of strange monsters, some of them resembling other
Mythos creatures. here we see a pack of shrieking, headless beings resembling Y'golonac, a
creation of Lovecraft's fellow writer Ramsey Campbell.
A more traditional Cthulhu-like being can be seen here, along with a cool froglike monster which
later reveals a huge tongue, and a tumorous semihumanoid who attacks with magical energy
As our heroes close in on Icthultu, he releases two elite minions from giant pustules on his own
tentacles, one clearly resembling one of Lovecraft's Gugs and the other an eerie, stalk-eyed
being whose arms can break off and act as individual monsters!
Solomon Grundy, believing that Icthulthu has his missing soul (long story), eventually rips his way
inside a tentacle and makes his way to the monster's brain, protected by a slimy black symbiont
with lots of teeth. Very cool, though I honestly would have expected even weirder inside of an
alien god's head. Grundy makes an unlikely hero as he uses one of the monster's own claws to
impale Icthultu's brain, and loses his own unlife in the process.
When we begin this three-episode epic, the kids of South Park, Colorado have adopted various
superhero personalities, following in the footsteps of Eric Cartman after he became the
crime-fighting "Coon" a few episodes prior. While the kids pretend to battle evil, the notorious
BP - an evil we still contend with in the real world - is causing one disastrous oil spill after
another, drilling deeper and deeper until finally ripping open a hole through time and space, as
we always feared.
Various creatures emerge into our dimension through BP's latest screw-up, including some very
cool intepretations of the Elder Things from "At the Mountains of Madness" and what may be a
Other monsters are entirely original - I love this tentacled eyeball-mouth that snaps shut like a
bear trap! The detail and shading of the monsters is a clever contrast to South Park's flat
"construction paper" art style, making them feel more like they came from an alternate reality.
In a last ditch idiotic effort to save face, British Petroleum changes its name to Dependable
Petroleum (as in DP, or Double Penetration), and decides to drill for oil on the moon. This
inevitably unleashes Cthulhu himself, rendered in CG with a fairly generic but acceptable design.
What ensues from this point is some of the dorkiest nonsense the series has ever pulled;
kicked out of his superhero team for his usual egomania, Eric Cartman turns to Cthulhu and
successfully befriends the beast in a series of scenes mirroring moments from My Neighbor
Totoro and even Looney Tunes. Meanwhile, Kenny McCormick discovers that his recurring
deaths are more than just a running gag, and South Park is revealed to have its very own
Cthulhu cult. There's more to the story, but I've spoiled enough as it is.
Now that a series as mainstream as South Park has featured Cthulhu, it's pretty obvious that
Lovecraft is no longer just for geeks, so what's next in the Great Old One's animation career?
Whatever it is, somebody let me know so I can update the page with it. I'm too lazy to watch real