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Life Cycle of the Outer Gods by thomastapir Life Cycle of the Outer Gods by thomastapir
So I've been reading the Malleus Monstrorum, essentially the giant collected "monster manual" for the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and it got me thinking...

I've been reading Lovecraft since I was about 14 and have devoured every pastiche, homage, and satire I can get my hands on related to the "mythos," and I have to say, the way most creators handle Lovecraft's "deities," the Outer Gods and Great Old Ones.....reeeeeaaally bugs me.

My perspective on Lovecraft's cosmology has always been very firmly grounded in the "science fictional" aspects, as elucidated in stories like At the Mountains of Madness or The Shadow Out of Time. I have always interpreted the supposed "magic" and mysticism, the "occult" elements of the mythos, as a veneer of limited human perception projected onto alien physics, geometry, and biology--or at best, a crude attempt to codify and manipulate those factors to human advantage.

If there is any sort of underlying existential or metaphysical philosophy to Lovecraft's fiction, it's that the universe is vast, unknowable, at best uncaring, at worst hostile to us fragile, pitiful little monkeys. There are monsters out there--in outer space, in the cracks between space and time and the dimensions we can't perceive. "Mundane" or "terrene" life emerges from temporary, self-organizing little whirlpools of counter-entropy in a universe governed by randomness and chaos. The "gods" of the mythos are the quasi-physical embodiment of this chaos, and their interaction with us is generally along the lines of our "interaction" with bugs crushed thoughtlessly underfoot.

So here's my take on the life cycle of the Outer Gods, what I see as the "primary" emergent entities/organisms of the Lovecraft cosmology. No genealogies or family trees, no elemental water/fire deities, no warring pantheons of Elder Gods versus hoary Old Ones...Just the life cycle of a mindless trans-spatial organism, often exploitative and parasitic, writhing and squirming at the center of the universe.

It also occurred to me that the faux "pelagic" and "planktonic" qualities of the Outer Gods in their various life cycle phases could account for the aquatic quality of many mythos organisms--water, as a medium, is similar to space.
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:icontektalox:
Tektalox Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is a nice classification system you got there. I am sure this is how Lovecraft thought of his “pantheon”: the entire Outer/ Great Old One stuff is just an alien form of life trying to adapt and evolve in this strange thing called physical reality.
Hmmm, Do you read “Lovecraftian Science”, a blog that speculates about Lovecraftian elements by scientifically analyzing them. The Shub-Niggurath articles “biological highway to other dimensions” and “mother of matter” reminds me of your taxonomical system here. Speaking of it, how does Nyarlathotep (the only god in Lovecrafts universe to have a personality as we understand it) fit into this version of the pantheon?
You got Malleus Monstrorum? While all the deity designs aren´t that very cool, I like some of Chaosium´s OC´s like Vibur and Hastalÿk.
And what is your opinion about Hastalÿk, the microscopic Great Old One that “amplifies” diseases? And what do you think about the Great Ones/Gods of the Dreamlands?

As you have noticed; I have become hungry for Cthulhu Mythos myself, and have read fun anthologies  like “Eldritch Evolutions” and “The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants” (read any of these?), and is working on revamping Mythos creatures into more alien/interesting forms. Do you want to take a look?
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:iconzattik:
zattik Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2014
Very interesting. And thought-provoking. Plus, your serious attempt at understanding the inescrutable urges me to advise you: don't go fiddling underground neither outside our atmosphere, you're sounding like lovecraftian curious academics.

Your interpretation is specially interesting if we consider that, as some say, Lovecraft was motivated by its time, in which counterintuitive stuff like quantum physics, deep sea exploration, evolution and other incredible scientific advancements were undermining Man's place in the natural order of things, and not even our minds were safe after Freud.

PS: It may interest you.

www.scp-wiki.net/scp-169

www.scp-wiki.net/the-thing-tha…

www.scp-wiki.net/scp-1548
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:icontektalox:
Tektalox Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Regarding eldritch abomination SCP´s, you forgot to recommend him SCP-435, SCP-1512, and SCP-1129.
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:iconzattik:
zattik Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2014
Actually, I don't remember reading those, thanks for the tip.
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:icondrkaleidoscope:
DrKaleidoscope Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Student Traditional Artist

Well, Yog-Sothoth stays out of this life cycle up until he's summoned to earth for some "tentacle delight"

 

This is really terrific

I've always been fascinated by evolution and how it might work on other dimensions and universes with very different physical laws from us

 

keep up the good work

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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
Thanks very much, I'm happy you like it and I also appreciate your great feedback!
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:icongrazatt:
grazatt Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2013
So how do the more human like mythos entities (men from Leng,ghouls, voormis) fit into this?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2013
Hm, you know, that's a good question...I'm not sure they'd fall under the purview of this chart.  If they did, I guess I'd think of it as a "one part per million Outer Gods genetic taint" kinda thing, like they are humans or quasi-humans that have some degree of preternatural ancestry, even in the form of parasitization or contamination.  The Men of Leng, though--I definitely think of them as kind of alt/parallel continuum quasi-humans, being as they are from the Dreamlands.
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:icondrkaleidoscope:
DrKaleidoscope Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Well, I can't say what Lovecraft was thinking when he made the ghouls and the deep ones, but in my Mythos stories at least, they were caused by early humanoids experimenting with occult forces that wound up causing them to mutate into transdimensional beast men
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013
VERY cool idea...You know, I was just thinking that they could also be leftover degenerate slave/utility races created by advanced prehistoric human or non-civilizations, as per "The Mound."
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:icondrkaleidoscope:
DrKaleidoscope Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2013  Student Traditional Artist

never read that story, but it sounds interesting

using magic in my stories is a lot like messing with nuclear power, but instead of just making you and your descendants very sick, magic can transform you in a more positive way I e, you develop wings, gills, psychic powers, stuff like that

there are also classic monsters in my stories like dragons and vampires, but they are given a lovecraftian twist in that they are the dinosauroid and human descendants of two Old Ones named Tiamat and Lilith, respectively

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:iconsnarfevs:
snarfevs Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love it
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2013
Thanks!
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:iconfilby:
Filby Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013
I imagine Yog-Sothoth being simply a different form of life entirely from Azathoth, with its own complicated life cycle.

Dunno about Shub-Niggurath.
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:iconnutcase9:
Nutcase9 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2013  Student General Artist
The whole point of Lovecraft is that we are small, the universe is large, and some weird critter might step on Earth by accident, so this makes more sense than half the 'official' shit.
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:iconmaddmim:
MaddMim Featured By Owner May 2, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I love this! a very creative concept of the Cthulhu Outer Gods lore. Overall these guys remind me of just insanely big versions of microscopic organisms. The possibilities are endless!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner May 5, 2013
Thanks very much, I'm really glad you like it! Yeah, your impression of them as mega-scale microbes is exactly what I had in mind, so I'm glad that comes across for you. Thanks for commenting!
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:iconarcclarke:
ARCClarke Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2013
Phenomenal!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
Thanks so much, I'm glad you like it!
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:iconmaster-of-the-boot:
Master-of-the-Boot Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I really love the idea of the "gods" having life cycles, and indeed not being gods at all as we understand them. While I never liked Lovecraft's original work very much, he provided a fascinating world to play with, a dark and evil place but still very amoral and cold in a sense.

Plus this is very creative
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013
Thanks so much! Yeah, I've always preferred to think of the Outer Gods not as true "deities" in a supernatural sense, but as extremely powerful and far-reaching "natural" (or preternatural) organisms we simply don't, or can't, understand.
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:iconmaster-of-the-boot:
Master-of-the-Boot Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I always found Science fiction to be so much more fun than fantasy, unless you can combine the two to get science fantasy. By turning the Eldar Gods into not-gods then you can make them still seem fantastical and impossible while still making them belong to something that really could exist here in our world.

Though I admit, I often use the alien-ness of the Outer Gods and Great old ones and play it up for laughs. Not impossible
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:iconshadamachaeon:
Shadamachaeon Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
What an Amazing Diagram!
This should explain the existance in Lovecraft's Mythos of not only Cthulhu's Star Spawn, but of the Elder Things, the Mi-go, The Flying polyps, the Giant Cone creatures that the Great Race of Yith possess from the Permian -> Cretaceous era, not to mention Wilbur Whateley and his very handsome brother ;)

Ph'ngui mglw'nafth Elvis Graceland wgah'nagl fhtagn.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013
"He's going to R'lyeh, R'lyeh, in the South Pacific seas, he's goin' to R'lyeh..."
[link]

Thanks again man, I'm glad you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down here...Not everybody likes the conflation of the Outer Gods with the other Mythos races, but, you know, that's the way I roll, I guess. Similar to the locomotion of a Servitor speeding across the paved flagstones of a forgotten temple in a benighted jungle festering somewhere beneath a blood-red moon....
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:iconanti-jager375:
anti-jager375 Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013
This...=D!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013
Hah, thanks!

Thank you also for the sudden flurry of faves, it's much appreciated! XD
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:iconchrestovenator:
Chrestovenator Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013
This deserves all the praise. All of it.

I could never read much from any of the imitators simply because of how they oversimplified Lovecraft's ideas. The only other mythos author I enjoy is Clark Ashton Smith, all of the others just stray too far into Good vs. Evil territory and that's not what I look for in good cosmic horror. I always pictured Lovecraft's cosmos as being a huge thriving ecosystem in which our planet is just one localized microhabitat and our species is just a single ant colony forever pumping out new workers to be seized and devoured by the multitudinous predators which flock on by on their inscrutable journeys. You've captured that essence quite nicely.

Also those are the most adorable god-larvae ever portrayed by non-polypous beings.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013
Also those are the most adorable god-larvae ever portrayed by non-polypous beings.

That's what we aim for here at Tapir Enterprises! XP

Thanks bro, I really appreciate your thoughtful feedback! I have to say, you often summarize what I'm aiming for more succinctly and articulately than I could have myself, which is both vexing and gratifying. =p
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:iconthe-mirrorball-man:
The-Mirrorball-Man Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh this is amazing for so many reasons.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013
Thanks so much, Julian! It means a lot coming from you.

Man, I can't tell you how much I miss My Life in Flux...It feels like a friend died or something.
:(
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:iconthe-mirrorball-man:
The-Mirrorball-Man Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ouch. Yeah, I miss it too, actually, though I've moved on to other creative endeavours now. :hmm:
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:iconstahlhelm:
Stahlhelm Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013
"I was spawned uncounted aeons ago, in the dark mists of Khhaa'yngnaiih (no, of course I don't know how to spell it. Write it as it sounds), of nameless nightmare parents, under a gibbous moon. It wasn't the moon of this planet, of course, it was a real moon. On some nights it filled over half the sky and as it rose you could watch the crimson blood drip and trickle down its bloated face, staining it red, until at its height it bathed the swamps and towers in a gory dead red light.

Those were the days."
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:iconhokova:
Hokova Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
'I, Cthulhu' by Gaiman?
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:iconstahlhelm:
Stahlhelm Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013
Yes
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013
Awwww, you're making me homesick. :(
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:iconkingovrats:
KingOvRats Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013   Traditional Artist
Haha I just recently re read some of my favourites from Lovecraft's works so great timing from my perspective xD

While I am ont really fond of making the mythos races just an offspring of Outer Gods. Personally I think that having all these different races works well to show how hostile might various things be to us. that danger lurks around in many forms and shapes... and making all of these just a form of an outer god invasion is kind of.. flattenig the Mythos world to me. Also why leaving out Yog? After all he was the one we've seen producing hybrids so I guess this concept is kind of based on him. You made poor Yog sad.:D

Nevertheless apart from that single stage it's an awesome idea. I especially like that migratory form and then a pair of vestigal wings on an adult. Nice touch definately. It's such a shame this wasn't included into thosse early, "official" mythos and instead we got some crap, going totally against lovecraft's clear concept of Outer Gods/Great Old Ones being simply beyond what we know as morality, we had them made into rebelous "fallen angels" punished rigtfully by Elder Gods. I think that Lovecraft hismelf would really approve your idea. DEstruction of entire civilisation by a life cycle of mindless (anti)comsic entity, now that's lovecraftian explanaition.

I'm pretty sure if you were born about 100 years later and were among those artists Lovecraft corresponded with, He'd include that life cycle to one of his stories.:)
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013
POOR POOR YOG :tears:

Yeah, I'm totally following you on the argument that the "outre" quality of the mythos should be represented in multiple unrelated forms, i.e. these various vastly different, but wholly independent, alien races. What I was going for here--and please keep in mind that this is only one of many possible interpretations--was a sort of pseudo-scientific way of reconciling the "hypergeometrical" or "transdimensional" qualities of some of the mythos races that would otherwise be inexplicable in terms of our current understanding of physics and biology. If these different races have a drop of outre blood in their composition, in the form of hereditary descent from Outer Gods (or their spawn, hybrids, larvae, etc.), then these "preternatural" qualities become a little more believable, imho. And I think it depends on the race. I mean, the Fungi from Yuggoth (Mi-Go), for example, would be a good candidate for descent from the Outer Gods in the manner I suggest, due to their unusual physical properties (can't be photographed, can "fly" through vacuum using wings pressing on an apparent ether-like transdimensional medium, worship or invoke Outer Gods, dissolve into immateriality upon death). The Elder Things or "Old Ones" of At the Mountains of Madness, on the other hand, require no necessary relationship to the Outer Gods to explain their biology and physical properties. The Deep Ones are clearly an alternate but conventional terrestrial evolutionary lineage, as are the bodies usurped by the Great Race (of Yith)....etc. etc. I think the judgment could be made, or implied, on a case by case basis.

The other aspect is the relationship of the Outer Gods to the Great Old Ones, which frankly I thought would be the most controversial suggestion or assertion of this model. Cthulhu and his ilk are impossible for me to explain in terms of merely being very powerful space aliens--where do their transdimensional abilities come from, and why is there such diversity among these supposedly "related" deities or species, and why do they apparently originate on so many different worlds...? At that point it becomes necessary to invoke either panspermia, hybridization, diverse ancestry, or some combination of the above to explain or reconcile their various (often mutually exclusive) qualities and properties. So I posited heredity from the Outer Gods, their spawn and larvae, as the unifying factor there.

So I guess what I'm suggesting, in essence, is two competing categories of "life" in Lovecraft's universe: "mundane" or "terrene" life emergent from those aforementioned "whirlpools of self-organization" in conventional matter, and "exotic" life having its origin in the transdimensional Outer Gods, in their offspring and larvae. There are varying degrees of overlap and relationship between these two "domains" to the extent that it may be impossible to fully distinguish one from the other at this point...There is also the fact that "conventional" life may achieve communion or intercourse with the "exotic" forms, Outer Gods and Great Old Ones, via psychic contact, mathematical "summoning," etc. etc., leading to further hybrids, parasitization, etc.

Hey, thanks for all your great input and feedback, this is probably the best critical response I've gotten on this piece thus far! Forces me to defend my ideas and reasoning, and suggests alternate pathways for further development, which is the hallmark of good literary/artistic criticism, as far as I'm concerned. Also--

re: I'm pretty sure if you were born about 100 years later and were among those artists Lovecraft corresponded with, He'd include that life cycle to one of his stories.
That's about the best compliment I could possibly hope for, so thank you very much! :hug:
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:iconkingovrats:
KingOvRats Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013   Traditional Artist
That is possibly the longsest reply I've received ever. And a very interesting discussion topic.

Well that's one of my favourite things about Lovecraft. So many things are left open to interpretation. That possibly sucks for narrow minded, uncreative people... but for artists like us it's a great opportunity to explore his world and populate it with our own concepts and ideas. Based on how Lovecraft encouraged other writers to use his ideas as parts of their own work, which in the end created th mythos, that's was his intention. it's a shame though that many artists rather than being creative just duplicates what others did before them and oftent doesn't match Lovecraft's original description or spirit.

Because of that I think your's interpretation is good, although I prefer to think of them as havin separate origins. Mythos multiverse is so complex and certainly has very weird dimensions and spaces within it. It seems unlikely that in a world where "hypergeometrical or transdimensional" abilites are possible they woudl have evolved just one time. I think it's more a matter of similar environments, outside world of physics as it is known to man rather then necessarily common ancestor. Just think of COulour out of Space, while not being related to any particular god it's even more alien than Fungi from Yuggoth. Also our fungous friends... don't really behave like outer gods spawn, don't you think? It was said in Dunwich Horror that the outr gods want to reatake the earth. Mi-Go don't seem to be interested at all they are just here for their precious minerals and want to avoid confilict.

Dunwich Horror calls Cthulhu the cousin of "Old Ones". I wonder about that Necronomicon quote much myself. There are many OLD things in Lovecraft's art yet they are often unrelated.Ii is indeed very enigmatic.Remember Rhan Tegoth> He, for example, is known as a Great Old One, yet personally I think i'ts a misunderstanding.:D That guy gets killed by a single gunshot. Not very godly, thing to do. Moreover he didn't dissolve unlike Willbur. I rather see him as a "normal" entity, from far far away, who is just naively considered "God" by indigenous races, much like Cortez was seen by Aztec people.

As for life in Lovecraft vision... I am not suure whether this division will be corect. There is a quote regarding Mi-Go's which my hint that in fact ALL life comes from a single source. "race of which all other life-forms are merely degenerate variants." This would actually fit your "life cycle" if you included all other organisms having been descended from Azathoth, perhaps first bacteria coming from him, and then spreading via meteorites etc.:D


Ah and in that last part I obviously menat 100 Years AGO, or lovecraft being bor 100 LATER. That's what happens when I keep studying untill my mind get's dissolved to aproximately azathothian level and then I try to put up some decent comment :XD:
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013
re:
I think it's more a matter of similar environments, outside (the) world of physics as it is known to man rather th(a)n necessarily (a) common ancestor.

This reminds me of Sandy Petersen's enlightening introduction to the original Chaosium CoC game book:

After World War I, astronomers confirmed that the thirty or forty thousand light years of easily observed stars and dust nearest us comprised only a minor corner of the universe. There was not one Milky Way, as astronomers had once believed, but thousands and millions of galaxies, most so faint and so distant that the truth of the nebulae had long been argued, but never before solved. The notion of island universes—galaxies, as we now say—was a bombshell. In the 1920’s, humanity’s perception of the unbounded universe’s true size increased by orders of magnitude.

Writing as such discoveries took place, Lovecraft gradually evolved a background myth incorporating them, and added some flavorings from Einstein and Planck. These new ‘universes,’ so he seems to have speculated, were truly islands. Their separation included their natural laws. Isolated by hundreds or thousands or millions of light years, the stuff of life could differ wildly. Very quickly, these islands also took on a Riemannian association of existing in or being connected to other dimensions.


And re:
Dunwich Horror calls Cthulhu the cousin of "Old Ones". I wonder about that Necronomicon quote much myself. There are many OLD things in Lovecraft's art yet they are often unrelated.

This gets me musing along similar lines, but regarding the mutability or variance of physical laws over vast stretches of time rather than acrost vast distances of space. Perhaps physical laws are not uniform (in Lovecraft's cosmology), but have changed and are changing over tme. That would help explain why these very aged beings often have connections to other dimensions. Perhaps life is narrowing its scope or range of effective operation as entropy takes its toll!

re:
(The) Colour out of Space, while not being related to any particular god, (is) even more alien than (the) Fungi from Yuggoth.

I would definitely consider the Colour to have its origins in another dimension rather than (simply) in outer space...I almost saw the "(from) Space" thing as a misconception or incomplete characterization of its nature.

re:
(The Mi-Go) don't really behave like Outer Gods spawn...(and) Rhan Tegoth gets killed by a single gunshot. Not (a) very godly thing to do.

Frankly I think that Lovecraft's conception of the "Great Old Ones" was not nearly so rigid as I've presented it here, which is really based more on all the derivative "Mythos" attempts to create unified pantheons of deities. I imagine he probably considered these various beings to simply be incomprehensible aliens from other times/places/dimensions with no necessary relationship to one another; alien entities that, as you say, are or were worshipped by humans as gods due to their age, power, and strangeness. "Old Ones," "Great Old Ones," "Elder Things," etc., were more stereotypial terms applied by awed humans to these various ancient races and entities.

If I were to defend my classification system, though, I would explain the above in terms of the proportion of "divine" (hyperspatial) to conventional "blood" present in a respective being's hereditary makeup--perhaps one part per million, say. XD
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:iconkingovrats:
KingOvRats Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013   Traditional Artist
I haven't read the chaosium books.. I just know teir depictions of monsters... which I can't say I am really fond of. The descriptions are really interesting, but not the images. They are inconsistent with what lovecraft wrote, I especially hate that humanoid ghast.

As for "great old ones" being related.. I think Lovecraft had such idea in mind. One of his letters makes Azo a progenitor of many other entities, just look: [link] Also I am not so sure if the another dimension would make that much difference. After all at some point, I think it was "trough the gates of silver key" it is said that all time and space are illusions of our limited perception.:)

I don't think there is much need to defend it.:) Apart from the point I mentioned I am very fond of it and like I said - I think Lovecraft himself would agree.:D
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:iconcommander-salamander:
commander-salamander Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I feel bad that I cannot appreciate this. Sorry.

I guess I really need to read my Lovecraft.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013
Oh, no worries...It's not like a prerequisite for membership in my Exclusive Club or anything.
:iconhannibalplz: :iconhanniballecterplz: :iconbuffalobillplz:
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:iconcommander-salamander:
commander-salamander Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No inner circle for me then :no:
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:iconpepon99:
pepon99 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Great idea! look amazing!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013
Thank you sir!
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
Brilliant.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013
Thanks man, I really appreciate that!
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Professional General Artist
One of these days you've GOT to write a novel, a ten book series or something.
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013
Pure scientific insanity.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013
That's also a brilliantly concise characterization of Lovecraft's ouevre! :omg:
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