The Mystery of Lustful Illusion -Cthulhu Pregnant- (2015) by Takayuki Hiyori (宇行 日和)

愛欲幻想の怪~クトゥルフ・プレグナント~ (The Mystery of Lustful Illusion -Cthulhu Pregnant-) by Takayuki Hiyori (宇行 日和) is a 2015 Japanese tankōbon hentai manga published by Unreal Comics (アンリアル). This book is divided into ten chapters, each of which contains a fully-illustrated and sexually explicit Cthulhu Mythos story.

In art style, the book is geared more toward erotic comedy than erotic horror; and many of the Cthulhu Mythos entities within are presented as monster girls. Takayuki Hiyori had been previously known for their dōjinshi based on popular monster girl harem manga Monster Musume, and their manga are essentially a pornographic parallel to the mostly non-explicit books like Monster Girl Encyclopedia II (2016) by Kenkou Cross (健康クロス).

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In terms of writing and storytelling, The Mystery of Lustful Illusion -Cthulhu Pregnant- is a disconnected collection of short works, much like most Lovecraft story collections or Lafcadio Hearn’s classic collection Kwaidan. There is no larger overarching story of narrative, the major appeal of the work being simply that it uses the Cthulhu Mythos for these erotic stories and sexualized versions of eldritch entities like Cthulhu, Hastur, Shub-Niggurath, the Deep Ones, the Hounds of Tindalos, and the Cats of Ulthar.

The contents are aimed toward some well-established tropes and kinks: as the title might imply, impregnation is a fairly significant theme in many of the stories, but there are also instances of multiple penetration, sex work, incest, nonconsensual sex, body transformation or modification, breast expansion, group sex, large genitals, etc. Readers familiar with tentacle erotica might wonder if such appendages play their part, as they do in Le Pornomicon (2005) by Logan Kowalsky, but in truth they don’t play a significant role in the proceedings.

Cthulhu_CalloftheAbyssIn point of fact, The Mystery of Lustful Illusion -Cthulhu Pregnant- is difficult to distinguish from Monster Musume or Monster Girl Encyclopedia products. While Takayuki Hiyori uses references to the Cthulhu Mythos in the crafting and telling of the stories, the manga itself is pretty straight forward monster girl erotica, and aimed more directly at that audience than Lovecraft fans. The depictions of the various Mythos entities is mostly original, but skewed toward “mostly human with a few non-human traits”—the Cats of Ulthar, for example, are indistinguishable from the generic manga or anime “catgirl,” with their primary feline traits being cat ears and tail on a nubile young woman’s body. Eldritch horrors are hinted at but seldom realized.

The contents of this book might be generally compared to the more sexually explicit chapters of The Elder Sister-like One by Pochi Iida (飯田ぽち。), but where Pochi is telling an extended narrative with a few characters with extended character development and exploring emotions, Takayuki Hiyori is necessarily more episodic, with varied content and swift-moving stories that tend to get to the sexual action fast, dwell on them for the majority of the length of the chapter, and come to a relatively swift conclusion.

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Arguably the most fun chapter in the book is a variation on “The Cats of Ulthar.” While the forms the cats take are stereotypical for hentai manga, and the results are pretty much what you might expect, it both pays homage to Lovecraft’s original work while playfully subverting aspects of it. One might compare it in some ways to the “erotic” versions of classic horror novels which achieved a bit of notoriety in the 1970s, like The Adult Version of Frankenstein and The Adult Version of Dracula by “Hal Kantor” (Ed Wood, Jr.). Erotic retellings of Lovecraft aren’t exactly new—for example, “Herburt East: Refuckinator” (2012) by Lula Lisbon—but illustrated or graphic adaptations are relatively scarce.

愛欲幻想の怪~クトゥルフ・プレグナント~ (The Mystery of Lustful Illusion -Cthulhu Pregnant-) by Takayuki Hiyori (宇行 日和) has not been officially translated into English or published in the United States; perhaps some company like FAKKU might do so in the future and make it more widely available. Until then, those interested in the Japanese original can still find copies available from retailers online.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.

Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein uses Amazon Associate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Teenage Twins (1976)

Historically significant, this was shot in three days by the legendary Carter Stevens, and was the very first adult XXX feature film to star real life twin sisters (Brooke and Taylor Young). Somehow their college professor stepfather (played by Leo Lovemore) has come to find the Necronomicon in his possession, which he needs for his witchcraft class. Right. That’s the thing to do with the most powerful and valuable book of dark magic on Earth…play show-and-tell with some 20-year-old turdbrains in community college. Inviting a horny friend (Eric Edwards) to help him with translating the ancient tome, the two men decide to give the Necronomicon a test drive and perform a ritual that’s supposed to give eternal life—which of course goes all wrong.
—Robin Bougie, “Enter My Dark Passage The Seventies Occultist Porn Film” in
Cinema Sewer Volume Six (2017) 9

Teenage Twins (1976) was not the first time one of Lovecraft’s creations had made it to feature film, as there was a run of Lovecraftian films in the 1960s. However, in addition to being the first X-rated American film to feature genuine twin sisters, it was the first pornographic film to feature the Necronomicon. How that came to be, is a bit of an entertaining story in itself.

Carter Stevens (Michael Stevens Worob) had been trained as a photographer and worked in film processing and directing. In 1972 he found a distributor and began his career directing pornographic films with Collegiates (1973); he would also do a fair amount of work in front of the camera. This was during the “Golden Age of Porn,” when adult filmmaking had a certain cachet—the stag film of the first half of the 20th century had given way to films that focused on plot as well as spectacle, and often featured a certain degree of arthouse aesthetic mixed in with the literal grindhouse appeal. By the mid-to-late 70s, Stevens had achieved some measure of success along these lines with films like Rollerbabies (1976), a science fiction pornographic film. As Stevens would then put it:

We had just put Rollerbabies in the can and were cutting it, (and that was the longest, most expensive, most complicated film I had done to date) and we were pretty burned out when Annie Sprinkle introduced me to one of the twins at another porn shoot we were all on. The twins had both been stewardesses for a couple of rinkydink southern airlines and had been laid off.
—Joshua Axelrod interview with Carter Stevens in Cinema Sewer, Volume Two 65

“Taylor Young” (real name unknown) had begun acting in adult films with Fanny (1975), whose cast also include Annie Sprinkle and Leo Lovemore. A comparison of Stevens and Lovemore’s filmographies show that they worked on several films together before Teenage Twins, including Lickety Split (1974), Highway Hookers (1975), Hot Oven (1975), and Mount of Venus (1975); Eric Edwards had been in the last three films as well, and would be in Teenage Twins also; Tia von Davis, who would play the twins’ mother in Teenage Twins was also in Mount of Venus. While it wouldn’t quite be a repertory company, it was clear that Stevens had a few actors he’d worked with before and could trust to perform when the opportunity presented itself.

I met the sister [Brooke Young] and she said she might be interested. I called my distributor in Detroit and told him I needed money right away to make another film. He balked as I hadn’t finished Rollerbabies yet but when I said I have a set of twins his wallet dropped open faster than his mouth. It was a real challenge making Twins as neither girl knew crap about sex. I remember Mary Stuart siting in my kitchen with a dildo trying to teach the girls how to give head. And I swear I’m not kidding when I say up until then they thought the term “Blow Job” was literal. We cobbled together a script (yes my films had scripts) in no time and within 2 weeks we shot Teenage Twins.
—Joshua Axelrod interview with Carter Stevens in Cinema Sewer, Volume Two 65

Mary Stuart was an actress who had worked with Stevens on Lickety Split and Rollerbabies. Stevens’ distributor was Arthur Weisberg, president of Gail Film Distributors, who had backed him financially on The Collegiates, The Hot Oven, and Mount of Venus before Rollerbabies and Teenage Twins. As for the script…

The credits for Teenage Twins name “Al Hazard” as responsible for the script; this was the pen name of writer Richard Jaccoma, who also used it (or a variation on the name) for Vampire Lust (1975), Punk Rock (1977), Honeymoon Haven (1977), Pleasure Palace (1979), and various adult magazine articles; he would eventually edit Screw magazine. Jaccoma was a definite fan of pulp fiction, and the use of a variation of Abdul Alhazred as a penname is one of the Easter eggs for fans—and it is really his script which makes what would have been just another mid-70s pornographic film with a gimmick into something of interest to Mythos films today. His non-pornographic works include the Fu Manchu pastiche Yellow Peril— The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe—one of the characters in the novel being a certain writer named Al Hazard.

It was shot in one long 3 day weekend. We saved money by renting the camera equipment for a Friday and it didn’t have to be returned till Monday morning all for one day’s rental fee, so we shot most of our films in 3 day (pardon the expression) spurts. The kitchen and dining room shots were done in my real kitchen and dining room. The rest was shot in my studio on sets.
—Joshua Axelrod interview with Carter Stevens in Cinema Sewer, Volume Two 65

The hurried production probably accounts for some of the roughness of the film, and little errors in the editing. There was no budget for special effects, but the script and directing is clever in how it works to try and suggest it. The twins, for example, are supposed to have a psychic bond so that each feels what the other feels; a sex scene with one could thus alternate in cuts with how the other twin is handling their empathic arousal—which notably includes one scene where the promiuscious twin Hope is with her boyfriend and the virginal twin Prudence relieves herself by masturbating with a Bible—which scene was cut from some releases of the film so as not to offend audiences. The soundtrack, however, is fantastically funky.

The overall low budget and rush of the filmmaking is probably most notable with the ending. The film culminates with a ritualistic orgy, guided by the professor reading from the Necronomicon—but ends with notable abruptness at the final line. Whether or not they simply ran out of film, it sure feels like that.

In fact we all called them the Quaalude twins. Sexually they were rather unschooled. They did not fool around with each other off screen, it was strictly my idea to pair them up on screen as I had never heard of it done in any movie before that. […] When I found the male twins for Double Your Pleasure I had to dly down to Florida to get one of the female twins out of jail where she had been doing time for passing bad checks. In turth I think she had just gotten so stoned and ust kept writing checks long after the bank had closed the account.
—Joshua Axelrod interview with Carter Stevens in Cinema Sewer, Volume Two 65

The actors in Teenage Twins would go on with their careers; Carter Stevens would direct them both again in Double Your Pleasure (1978), which would be almost their last film—it isn’t uncommon for actors to leave the industry after only a few years, to put their screen names behind them and move on with their lives without the stigma. It is a pity there are no interviews that give Brooke and Taylor’s perspective on the filming of Teenage Twins, or their brief careers.

Stevens claimed that Teenage Twins was his most profitable film, and with the low production costs and the number of times it has been packaged and re-packaged, that wouldn’t be surprising.  While the “teenage” part was always spurious (no birthdates are given for Brooke and Taylor, but they look to have been in their mid-20s), incest was and is still a taboo subject, and taboo always has a marketing draw…as evidenced by films like Hammer Studio’s Twins of Evil (1971) which included a brief (non-explicit) lesbian scene, or by the Sexxxtons Mother/Daughter duo in the 2010s, although in that case the two women made sure to never make sexual contact with one another. Whether Teenage Twins could be legally made today would probably require a careful analysis of the incest laws of whatever state it was filmed in (Stevens is quoted as saying “As far as I know, there’s no crime called ‘conspiracy to aid and abet the commission of incest.'” Teenage Twins Collection booklet 6).

Yet for Mythos fans, the most interesting part of the film is the Necronomicon itself.

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Although mentioned in the film’s opening, the Necronomicon itself doesn’t appear until well over half the film’s runtime, and no good shots have appeared of the prop itself. Pulp fans might be interested to know that the incantation read out of the book is “Ka nama kaa lajerama”—the incantation from Robert E. Howard’s “The Shadow Kingdom” (Weird Tales Aug 1929), the film thus marks the adult film debut of Howard’s literary creations as well.

The Necronomicon in Teenage Twins acts as a catalyst as much as it does a grimoire; supposedly the very presence of the book inspires some of the sexual escapades, such as when Gerald has a threesome with his step-daughter Hope alongside Professor Robert. It is an interesting angle, but as with many pornographic films, the plot is mainly there to set up the scenes and the pairings. Yet if Jaccoma hadn’t written the Necronomicon into the script—and Stevens hadn’t rolled with it—who would remember Teenage Twins today as more than a mid-70s effort to capitalize off of gay-for-pay twin actors?

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There are several versions of Teenage Twins out there in the marketplace, including on VHS and DVD, and it has been marketed as Teenage Tarts and The Young Twins. The Teenage Twins Collection includes commentary on the making of the film with director Carter Stevens, as well as great little details like:

Ads for production assistants and actors appeared in the Village Voice on December 1, 1975 and shooting commenced days later on December 5. […] A $65 receipt from Chicken Galore for fried chicken, ribs and twenty paper plates gives some indication of the cost of feeding cast and crew on a tiny budget.
—Michael J. Bowen, Teenage Twins Collection booklet 5

I was once told that at an early WorldCon a cut of Teenage Twins was shown which excised the hardcore sexuality and left intact the plot; it was supposedly screened under the tongue-in-cheek title At the Mons of Madness. I’ve never been able to find any confirmation to this, but Stevens was a known science fiction fan, and a con reporter in the fanzines Drift #3 and Event Horizon #349 confirms that he attended MidAmericaCon (the 34th WorldCon) in 1976, and apparently held private screenings of some of his films…so I consider it at least possible that the film was shown.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.

Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein uses Amazon Associate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cthulhu Trek (2008) by Leslie Thomas

Cthulhu Trek– Written and Edited Les Thomas, Layout and Illustrations Cabin Campbell, 1st. Edition, 2008. Star Trek collides with Lovecraftain horror. Robert Blochʼs Lovecraft/ Star Trek connection, Jeffery Combs HPL/ ST characters. Plus Sutter Cane (sometimes spelled Kane) Star Trek Fiction (Warning: Explicit sex and violence). $4.00
—Leslie Thomas, 13th Hour Books

In the early 1930s, science fiction fandom came into being. One of the characteristics of this fandom was the strong influence of the amateur journalism movement. It wasn’t just that there were fanatical readers of pulp fiction, but they documented their love and excitement, their fan art and fan poetry and fanfiction, their discussions and feuds.

Today, we talk about fandom studies with textbooks like the Fan Fiction Studies Reader because these early ‘zines are the trace fossils of the fans themselves, most of whom are sadly gone and can no longer give us living memories of what it was like to buy the magazines off the rack, to organize the first conventions, make their own costumes at home. To carry out debates by mail, and see the wonders and terrors of the Atomic Age and Space Age and finally the Digital Age be manifest around them.

As the fans grew up, fandom grew up with them. Scholars like Brian Wilson have traced the history of rule 34 from the first nude artwork that graced the 1930s fanzines to the Star Trek slashfic written and analyzed by Joanna Russ to the internet erotica of today. Things percolated together and got profoundly, lovingly, weird. Mash-ups between different genres, different properties, entirely different fandoms came together, often just for laughs or following some singular vision of “Hey, wouldn’t this be cool?” or “Hey, wouldn’t this be hot?”

Leslie Thomas is a fan of both Star Trek and the Cthulhu Mythos. His 2008 ‘zine Cthulhu Trek is a labor of love, an unpaginated 16-page staplebound black-and-white expression of profound and utter nerdiness—and it is, in many ways, an exemplar of what a fanzine can be: fun, scholarly by its own lights, and brimming with creativity and enthusiasm.

McCoy opened another cabinet and, from it he pulled out a small jar and handed it to Kirk. “I have to ask Jim, but did you have sex with a Yithian lately,” a slight smile crossed his kindly face as he place [sic] the alcohol back into its cabinet.
—Leslie Thomas, “Cream” in Cthulhu Trek

The first few pages of the ‘zine trace connections between Star Trek and the Mythos—principally via Robert Bloch, who wrote three episodes of the original series, and versatile actor Jeffrey Combs whose credits include multiple roles in both Star Trek series and various Lovecraftian films and adaptations, most especially the Re-Animator series, From Beyond, The Evil Clergyman, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, and The Dunwich Horror (2009).

Like a good hoax, Thomas then transitions into fanfiction—presenting pieces of the Mythos-inflected Star Trek fiction of Sutter Kane. Of these, the bare two pages of Kirk picking up an extraterrestrial (or should that be extratemporal?) STD are perhaps the most memorable, although Chekov’s encounter with a dominatrix is certainly not something that will be forgotten in a hurry, barring blunt forced trauma to the head or the alcoholic equivalent.

Cthulhu Trek ends with the rather odd bit of trivia that Will Wheaton starred in The Curse (1987), a rarely-remembered film based on Lovecraft’s “The Colour out of Space.” Wheaton, of course, gained popularity by playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and if it feels weird to turn the page from Sulu in the grips of madness to a tidbit that feels straight out of the Internet Movie Database…well, it is. Like all fanzines, Cthulhu Trek is idiosyncratic, produced by one writer who was also his own editor, with Cabin Campbell as illustrator and layout artist.

Could Thomas have taken it further? Could he have produced a full-fledged erotic Star Trek/Cthulhu Mythos opus, self-published it, and reached the heights of fame that E. L. James did? Maybe. So could you. What he did instead was write and publish a funny little chapbook as a bit of amusement for himself and his fellow fans. Which is pratically the definition for what fanfiction is: the desire not just to create something inspired by some work, but to share it with others. That is what Cthulhu Trek is, ultimately; not a masturbation aid, but an endearing effort to share the love of Star Trak and the Cthulhu Mythos.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.

Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein uses Amazon Associate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Dagger of Blood (1997) by John Blackburn

They that write as a trade to please the whim of the day, they are like sailors that work at the rafts only to warm their hands and to distract their thoughts from their certain doom; their rafts go all to pieces before the ship breaks up.
—Lord Dunsany, “The Raft-Builders” (1915)

Popular fiction, whether it be for pulp magazines, comic books, or pornography, is ephemeral. Precious few authors have the kind of posthumous renaissance that H. P. Lovecraft has experienced. Even those who build up a considerable body of work, or a dedicated follow, often sink out of sight once they die. Their works aren’t reprinted. Work goes uncollected, unread, forgotten.

John Blackburn died in 2006. His raft is breaking up.

In 1989, Blackburn self-published his own comic, Coley on Voodoo Island, acting as writer, artist, and letterer. While normally categorized among gay comics, Coley is bisexual, or maybe pansexual; a living sex icon, his very presence tends to attract everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. Some folks might characterize Coley—the ageless, immortal, six-pack-abs voodoo sex god with a large penis, a bottomless libido, and a constant parade of sexual partners—as a form of wish fulfillment. Yet it’s wish fulfillment in the same way that Conan the Cimmerian, or Captain America, or the Vampire Lestat are; Coley embodies a pure fantasy, a larger-than-life figure who moves through the world, and in so doing changes it.

The first four issues of Coley’s adventures were self-published by Blackburn; in 1992 Fantagraphics which was publishing a great number of alternative, independent, and erotic comics picked up Coley, reprinting the first adventures and then new ones. While a supernatural fantasy element was present from the beginning, the Cthulhu Mythos slid into the mix in 1993 with the two-issue series Idol of Flesh, where Coley runs up against a cult of Shub-Niggurath.

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Idol of Flesh #2 (1993)

As an artist, Blackburn puts a lot of work into his hatching; you can see some influence from superhero comics in the often skin-tight clothes and Coley’s heroic proportions, and this sometimes goes for other characters as well. Compositions tend to be focused: the reader’s eye is usually drawn to the center of each panel, each pane, and backgrounds usually fade out to dark hatching during the frequent erotic scenes or conversational back-and-forth. Stylistically very different from Le Pornomicon (2005) by Logan Kowalsky or Insania Tenebris (2020) by Raúlo Cáceres, and many readers might fairly judge it to be almost crude by comparison, it might be better to compare Blackburn’s work with underground cartoonists of the ’70s in terms of style and technique.

The plot of the series revolves around Coley, even when he isn’t on the page. The other characters are almost invariably attracted to him, but have to figure out for themselves what that means, what their relationship is about, particularly as Coley—while a loyal friend, and falling in love easily—has basically zero interest in monogamous relationships, and doesn’t cater to anyone else’s efforts to constrain or define his behavior. This tends to put him at odds with local authority figures, such as the police, religious types, and general bigots—and in a few cases, attracts supernatural forces.

The Cthulhu Mythos intrudes on Coley and his gaggle of associates in the three-issue Dagger of Blood series in 1997. This was the final standalone comic produced featuring Coley, although Fantagraphics would publish three additional omnibus albums Coley Running Wild from 1997-2003. Coley’s earlier encounter with the cult of Shub-Niggurath put him on the cultist radar, and he now has to deal with another descendant of the Old Ones.

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Dagger of Blood #2

While the story takes many X-rated breaks, the plot takes a turn strongly reminiscent of the post-war Men’s Adventure Pulps of the late 1940s and 50s—though not one that would probably ever have passed the editors of those magazines.

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Dagger of Blood #2

Old Nazi mad scientist in a temple of the Old Ones deep inside a jungle probably sounds like an exploitation script treatment even before you add the pornstars, voodoo sex god, flagellation scenes, interracial relationships, body modification, sex changes, and bloody violence…but there is something more interesting at work here.

One of the things that sets Coley apart from the other characters in this series is that he is completely accepting of both his body and his sexuality; it helps that by the standards of the characters in the comic, he’s basically perfect: young, slim, muscled, big genitalia, etc. and he maintains it with seemingly zero effort. By contrast, many of the other characters are not all happy with their body or their sexuality. The main antagonist Joquatoth is dealing with the effects of his inhuman heritage—and wants to stay human. If he wasn’t deliberately set up as evil, he could be seen as an almost tragic figure, facing parallel issues of body image issues that affect many transgender folk  as they deal with issues like puberty, or strive to achieve a body closer to their gender identity via hormones and surgery.

Blackburn doesn’t explore these issues in anything like depth; the castration scene is a setup for a sub-plot where the genitalia of two characters are swapped: Coley’s lover Lonny gets a vagina, and the the mostly lesbian Kit gets his penis. Lonny and Kit’s introspection at these drastic and fantastical changes to their bodies is less than profound…but it’s there.

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Dagger of Blood #3

The idea of transsexual or intersex characters that don’t conform strictly to a sex or gender binary are nothing new, not even in Lovecraft’s time. His friend Samuel Loveman wrote “The Hermaphrodite” in 1926, some pulp stories like Seabury Quinn’s “Strange Interval” (Weird Tales May 1936) and Lovecraft’s own “The Thing on the Doorstep” (Weird Tales Jan 1937) play with gender-changes, albeit in very non-explicit and largely sexless ways. It takes a certain amount of artistic freedom to actually depict and address some of these issues, and that just wasn’t possible under the editorial and mail censorship of the 1930s, even if there had been writers among Lovecraft’s correspondents and devotees who had desired to address such issues.

Which is one of the things that makes Dagger of Blood stand out. Yes, it’s very blatantly pornography, with a rare page that goes by without nudity or some sexual act; it’s a comic book and not a novel, which places it in that weird intersection of being doubly disposable for being taboo in subject matter and a medium often derided at the time as childish or trash (though that was slowly changing). The Mythos material is slight, being two storylines involving cultists with semi-human leaders. There is a tentacle erotic scene, which might owe something to the popularity of Japanese manga and anime like Toshio Maeda’s La Blue Girl (manga 1989-1992, original video animation 1992-1993).

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Dagger of Blood #3

Yet it’s for that exact reason that Dagger of Blood has its charms, and can even address some of these issues of gender, sexuality, relationships, and body image when contemporary Mythos works largely didn’t…because Blackburn didn’t have to subscribe to the same editorial taboos, the social norms and mores that he would if he had been working for Marvel Comics or even Playboy. Working on his own he had more creative freedom to get really weird—and that kind of growth can be important. Even if Blackburn’s Coley opus isn’t destined to stand the test of time, it is one of Dunsany’s rafts set adrift…and who knows what it might inspire, if it does survive a little while longer?

Our ships were all unseaworthy from the first.

There goes the raft that Homer made for Helen.
—Lord Dunsany, “The Raft-Builders” (1915)

John Blackburn’s Dagger of Blood #1-3 were published by Eros Comix in 1997; they were collected in Coley Running Wild, Book Three: Hardthrob (2003).


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“Lascivious Tongues” (2014) by Christine Morgan

Christine Morgan reminds us that sex is so much more than just bodies coming together in her story Lascivious Tongues; it’s as much a mental, linguistic game as anything else. Words have power, particularly during sex: some words might only power your fucktoys, others could power your house, your city… or destroy your reality altogether! Lascivious Tongues is a lot of fun in a classic “don’t read the cursed book” way, and delivered to us by a master storyteller with a great feel for dialogue and character.
Justine Geoffrey, “On Old Names, Old Guards and Great Old Ones” in Necronomicum #1

There are definite parallels between Mythos literature and pornography. The Necronomicon and 120 Days of Sodom are both forbidden books, shunned by normal people, dealt with (at least in earlier times) only by specialists and pursued only by particularly fanatical readers, often hidden in libraries. These works are all taboo—just reading or possessing them carried a social stigma, and in some cases could even be illegal according to some authorities. Generations of Mythos fans have appreciated the fetishistic element to Mythos tomes when they read of the decadent works described in “The Hound.” Later authors have exploited these parallels to create Mythos tomes that combine the forbidden lore of erotica and cosmic horroras in Le Pornomicon (2005) by Logan Kowalsky, or “The Perils of Liberated Objects, or, The Voyeur’s Seduction” (2009) by Caitlín R. Kiernan. (For more on this subject, see “The Necronomicon as Pornography” in Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.)

The term “fetish” as normally applied to sex signifies a particular and often fixed image of veneration. This sense of the word is derived in turn from European encounters with votive objects among the indigenous peoples of Africa—literal idolatry, when viewed through the Christian world-view of the traders, sailors, missionaries, and later anthropologists who sought to catalog and categorize what they saw, even if it was with imperfect understanding.

Cthulhu, not coincidentally, had an idol too.

She cared not a whit that the eccentric New England recluse’s library was said to have also contained dozens of tomes on occultism and folios of pornography. Nor did she lend any credence to the scandalous talk of orgies, covens, sacrifices, rituals, and other such hysteria and nonsense.

And it was absurd even to suggest that the book had anything to do with Grantham vanishing.
—Christine Morgan, “Lascivious Tongues”

Sexual fetishes lend themselves to cataloging and categorization too. Specific images—the stern headmistress is a staple character, the all-girls school a staple setting—lend themselves to endless permutations. Like Cthulhu, there is never one single, correct, absolutely perfect and eternal depiction; there is only endless and fascinating repetitions and variations, writers and artists playing on a theme, trying to capture or depict specific moods and ideas.

Which is a long way to say that the similarities between erotica and Mythos fiction are more than skin-deep; there is a certain fundamental similarity in purpose with fetishistic sexual literature. The really good writers are seldom dispassionate, but in the throes of their own fascination with the material, the techniques used in many Mythos pastiches and erotic works are essentially the same—and occasionally bleed over. This is a bit obvious when it comes to remixes such as “Kanye West—Reanimator” (2015) by Joshua Chaplinsky vs. “Herburt East: Refuckinator” (2012) by Lula Lisbon, but the dividing line between “serious Mythos story” and “erotic Mythos story” can be exceptionally thin—and it is entirely possible for a Mythos story to be a work of erotic horror, for a Mythos image like Cthulhu’s tentacles to become a sexual image fulfilling a particular fetish.

“Lascivious Tongues” works in no small part because Christine Morgan plays specifically to images of Lovecraftian horror as well as to sexual fetishes. In combining the two, she is sort of crossing the line twice—in both directions. Jessica Barlowe, the stern, virginal, and sexually repressed headmistress of the all-girl’s college does not satisfy what might be the expectations of the reader—her tastes, once awakened, lie in a more occult direction—and the Lovecraftian horrors have a form and appearance distinctly atypical for those expecting phallic-headed tentacles to burst forth from beyond the portal, as described and depicted in the Necronomicon in Noé & Barreiro’s The Convent of Hell.

Her facility with languages, combined with her position as headmistress of the Eastridge School for Young Ladies, meant that Jessica Barlowe had long since wearied of the inevitable ‘cunning linguist’ jokes with which each new wit fancied himself so clever.
—Christine Morgan, “Lascivious Tongues”

Yet more than anything, Morgan has tongue firmly in cheek. While the puns are few, she is definitely cognizant of the play of words and concept. Lovecraft and pornographers both have a tendency toward adjectives and adverbs, and if “Lascivious Tongues” doesn’t reach the heights of Lovecraft’s ultraviolet prose, it is definitely trying to evoke the particular idiom of a certain range of Victorian and Edwardian erotica in some of its diction.

Compared to many Mythos pastiches are overwritten and drag in terms of pacing, “Lascivious Tongues” moves almost too briskly, hitting its story beats and not slowing down until the weight of the sex scenes demands it. Many passages and transitions are downright terse. It is a very pulp/erotica style of writing, unlike the longer literary form such as Widdershins (2013) by Jordan L. Hawk, which otherwise shares a similar period setting. Which is to say, “Lascivious Tongues” is not exactly The Way of a Man with a Maid (1908) with the addition of a Mythos tome. It could easily have been something like that, if Morgan had aimed at a novel instead of a short story. The basic building blocks for such an erotic Mythos novel are there—but the market is different.

“Lascivious Tongues” was published in Necronomicum: The Magazine of Weird Erotica #1 (2014). Erotica is often ephemeral fiction; read once and then forgotten or discarded. It took quite some time to build up the idea of “erotic horror” as durable literature, beyond masturbation fodder. Which is a shame because some quite good fiction has been lost to disinterest, in men’s magazines and the wilds of the early Internet…and to ebooks which were available for a period, and then disappeared, taking their stories with them.

Necronomicum was set up as a triannual e-periodical; it made it to four issues…which isn’t bad at all, considering it published some well-known authors such as Ramsey Campbell, Christine Morgan, and Brian Sammons. The trick for any series publication is reaching the right market—all the more difficult in an internet already flooded with erotica and pornography. For such a publication, with a token payment, short & simple makes sense. “Lascivious Tongues” isn’t the worse for being written as a fast-paced bit of Lovecraftian erotica, but it definitely makes more sense in context as something written as a quick read in a small ebook anthology.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

Mystery of the Necronomicon (黒の断章, 1999)

Mystery of the Necronomicon (黒の断章, Kuro no Danshō) is a four-episode hentai (sexually explicit, adult-oriented) Original Video Animation (OAV) produced in Japan and released in 1999 and 2000 on DVD and laserdisc; it was dubbed and released into English-speaking markets in 2007 on VHS and DVD, with periodic re-releases on DVD since then, most recently the all-in-one 2014 DVD from Critical Mass.

It is difficult to put Mystery of the Necronomicon into its proper context because most of that context has never been translated into English. In 1995 the first of a computer game series “Suzusaki Detective Office File” (涼崎探偵事務所ファイル) was released by Avocado Powers (アボガドパワーズ, often Anglicized phonetically as “Abogado Powers”) for the PC-9800 personal computers; it was ported to the Sega Saturn in 1997, and to Windows in 2004. The game was an adult-oriented mystery/horror, and spawned a sequel in 1996; a third game was planned, but never came out due to financial difficulties at the company. Subsidiary materials include a 1997 strategy guide to the Sega Saturn game, which was praised for its art.

SegaSaturn

Mystery of the Necronomicon is essentially the film version of the 1995 computer game. This wasn’t necessarily weird in the late ’90s; one of the more successful examples English audiences might be familiar with is Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (1994, dubbed English version released in 1995), and Japan had already released a 1994 computer game Necronomicon (ネクロノミコン) based on Lovecraft’s work. As the game itself has never been officially translated and released in English markets, it’s difficult to say how accurately the  4-episode OVA represents the plot and characterization. Both game and OVA appear to be trying the tricky job of producing an original Cthulhu Mythos horror/mystery with characters that are sexual beings—and that sexuality isn’t limited to consensual heterosexual relations without paraphilia; the OVA  contains graphic scenes of consensual female homosexuality, BDSM, and urophilia as well.

The explicit sexual content may be why the game producers partnered with production company Discovery, a Japanese company that had specialized in adult animation such as the slightly infamous Night Shift Nurses series. While there’s no scuttlebutt on the behind-the-scenes involved with bringing Mystery of the Necronomicon to English audiences, the North American distributor Anime 18 had also distributed Night Shift Nurses and other titles from Discovery, so it seems likely that this was a case of something in Discovery’s back-catalog of titles that they thought would appeal to the North American market…how well that worked out, it’s hard to say, but there must have been at least some commercial interest for the DVD to get multiple English releases.

MotN-VHS

It’s possible the “Book of the Dead” subtitle on some of the English releases drew some inspiration from Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), an American/French/Japanese co-production, but it’s telling that the box art emphasized “From the director of Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend,” one of the famous tentacle erotica anime that derive from the work of Maeda Toshio (前田俊夫). The distributors were obviously trying to capitalize as much as possible on the explicit pornographic nature of Mystery of the Necronomicon—this was a product being marketed to a specific crowd—which bears a little bit of inquiry.

There is a cost involved in translating every work. For those first writers who translated H. P. Lovecraft into Japanese after World War II, it was the cost of the translator’s time and expertise, then on top of that the normal publishing costs; the same applies for Japanese literature translated into English. For especially art-heavy works like the Monster Girl Encyclopedia II (2016) by Kenkou Cross (健康クロス), there are special considerations to make sure that the art is properly reproduced, and there are potential issues of censorship to deal with, but it’s still mostly an issue of translation costs. With an anime, there are added costs: for a dub, the script has to be translated, voice actors contracted, performances recorded, then new voice tracks have to be mastered and synchronized with the videoso it’s not a small process, there’s layers of work to be done, and that’s assuming that censorship issues aren’t involved. Japanese pornographic works, by statute, blur or hide genitalia and often cannot depict pubic hair and may involve characters under the legal age of consent in other countries—such issues may or may not be resolved as part of the translation process, and there’s an added cost involved with removing censoring, or changing the script so a character is at least 18 years old if it’s going to be sold on the North American market.

Because of this cost, only a fraction of the vast amount of media that Japan produces ever reaches English-language markets, and that fraction of stuff tends to get skewed toward specific markets where it is believed (or at least hoped) that it will sell. Sometimes this leads to big successes like the Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball, and One Piece series, or the Super Sentai series which were translated into Power Rangers—and sometimes this leads to abysmal flops, stuff that either for poor translation or distribution or whatever other reason fails to find its audience and sinks out of sight. Because of the cost involved, this means that companies tend to focus on those franchises and products which do sell, and if a given series is successful, they’ll try to bring over another similar work to sell to the same market.

Which is a long way to say: Mystery of the Necronomicon was not translated into English because there was a hardcore market of Japanese Cthulhu Mythos fans that were frothing at the bit to get their hands on any and all Japanese media related to Lovecraft’s creations. Instead, it looks a lot like Mystery of the Necronomicon was translated to fill a niche for sexually explicit anime for a market that was hungry for hentai. There is a bit of irony to the fact that with the rise of the internet, so many people have associated the tentacle erotica of hentai works by Maeda Toshio & the like with the relatively tentacle-heavy Cthulhu Mythos fiction of the 1990s and early 2000s, but so little of the stuff actually coming out of Japan in translation actually dealt with that.

cthulhu-hentai

While there is sexually explicit content to Mystery of the Necronomicon, most of the four episodes are taken up with the eponymous mystery that the detectives are there to solveand anyone looking for gonzo masturbation material, porn without plot, might be surprised that it’s a fairly well-plotted story (albeit one with plenty of graphic sex scenes), with solid voice acting and some good visuals. The soundtrack and animation are workable; neither the best nor the worst of Japanese animation from the period, but many of the horror scenes are fairly effective. There are little Easter eggs for Mythos aficionados as well, such as the character Clark Ashton, and the final mystery takes a very interesting turn that showcases how well-versed the writers were in their Lovecraftian lore.

Lovecraft’s story “Herbert West—Reanimator” takes place in Arkham and at Miskatonic University, but largely predates the establishment of Lovecraft’s Mythos and doesn’t involve his eldritch entities or terrible tomes. Like “The Picture in the House,” it is only tangentially connected to the Mythos at large by virtue of being set in Lovecraft country. Some later media have tried to work around this by making the source of West’s reagent derived from studies of the Necronomiconthis was a plot point in many of Dynamite’s Reanimator comics, and Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ Providenceand not to spoil things too much, in Mystery of the Necronomicon it is revealed that West has a connection with the book tooalthough as with many Japanese Mythos works, the physical appearance of the Necronomicon is inspired more strongly by the Necronomicon Ex Mortis from the Evil Dead films, as discussed in “Night Voices, Night Journeys” (2005) by Inoue Masahiko (井上雅彦).

Mystery of the Necronomicon is ultimately a good example of how Lovecraftian influence spreads outside of the sphere of English-language media, only to come back in somewhat weird and unusual form. The surprising thing isn’t that Lovecraftian erotica exists, or exists in Japanese, but that there was sufficient audience for something like that in the English-speaking world that people spent the time and effort to translate it back into English. It isn’t exactly Lovecraft seen “through a glass darkly”because there is nothing imperfect or distorted about the adaptation; it is simply something that is both oddly familiar and different from what English-speaking audiences have seen before.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“Shoggoth Makes Three” (2003) by Jean Ann Donnel

A house in the suburbs or an apartment in the city would be assigned him, and he would be initiated into one of the large affection-groups, including many noblewomen of the most extreme and art-enhanced beauty, which in latter-day K’n-yan took the place of family units.
—H. P. Lovecraft, “The Mound”

Most readers don’t normally associate H. P. Lovecraft with polyamory. Then as now, monogamy was the prevailing paradigm among the bulk of the population, and Lovecraft’s romances in his fictions are almost always explicitly monogamous in nature; there are a few lover’s triangles in stories like “The Man of Stone” with Hazel Heald and “Medusa’s Coil” with Zealia Bishop, but there are no polycules in Lovecraft country outside of “The Mound.”

There was nothing new with the idea of polyamory during Lovecraft’s lifetime. His friend James F. Morton was part of a “free love” group at one point, and his chapbooks were advertised in The Public in 1916, alongside advertisements like this:

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After Lovecraft’s death, polyamory became more common. “The Discovery of the Ghooric Zone” (1977) by Richard Lupoff famously opens with a polyamorous threesome…but for the most part, monogamy remains the overwhelming romantic schema of Mythos fiction, both serious and jocular, erotic and non-erotic. Indeed, while the attitudes regarding sex have become much more progressive and expressive in Mythos fiction, romances—particularly marriage—often deal with existing attitudes and problems, with a Mythos twist. This can be seen in works like “Mail Order Bride” (1999) by Ann K. Schwader (marriage-by-contract, the stresses of pregnancy on a marriage), “A Coven in Essex County” (2016) by J. M. Yales (patriarchal attitudes towards marriage, spousal abuse), Mexican Gothic (2020) by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (marriage under duress, consanguineous marriage), etc. Infidelity remains a relatively rare theme, as well as marriage counseling. The bulk of marital issues in the expanded Cthulhu Mythos appear to be solved only be the death of one or both partners.

Which is part of what makes Jean Ann Donnel’s “Shoggoth Makes Three” so special.

“Fi Fi is your lover’s name as well?” she inquired.

Cantraip looked at her startled. Could it be?

“You’re not a lesbian, are you Ms. Peaches?” the moderator asked, arching an eyebrow. “That would explain your being in a dysfunctional relationship group,” he stated.

Ms. Peaches stared at him steadily with contempt in her eyes. “I’m quite straight. Fi Fi’s not exactly a woman and definitely has male members,” she commented.
—Jean Ann Donnel, “Shoggoth Makes Three” in Cthulhu Sex Magazine (2003), vol. 2, no. 16, 20

Donnel is playing the situation for laughs; the idea of a polycule with a polymorphous shoggoth in the middle is almost a one-note joke. Yet for all that the idea is being played for transgressive comedy, it does include several interesting developments in Mythos fiction which other authors would also explore—and maybe a few that haven’t been explored much at all.

It is hard to pinpoint where exactly the idea of a shoggoth (or other Mythos entity) with multiple genitalia serving as a bridge between heterosexuality to a broader range of sexual experiences originated. Certainly there was some fanfiction where ardent weird fiction fans were imagining the possibilities; Rick McCollum illustrated one possibility for a fanzine in 1980:

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One might also add Robert M. Price’s story “A Thousand Young” (1989), where a libertine encounters:

For there, revealed by the glare of the lights, was no solid heap of swaying orgiasts, but rather chains of bodies spread over the pulsing and gelatinous surface of a tentacled, amoeboid horror, the revelers grotesquely arrayed like suckling whelps as the thing fed greedily on their sexual vitality through the questing pseudopodic phaluses, teats, and vulvas it sent forth!
—Robert M. Price, “A Thousand Young” in The Shub-Niggurath Cycle (1994) 94

The idea, both artistic and literary, of a polymorphous Mythos entity that can produce genitalia at will is still very much part of the creative erotic lexicon of the Mythos, as can be clearly seen in many depictions of the shoggoth in, for example, fan-works related to Monster Girl Encyclopedia II (2016) by Kenkou Cross (健康クロス). Arguably there were prototypical works in the Mythos anticipating this, such as the strange plants to which parts of human men and women were grafted in Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Garden of Adompha.”

What these stories generally lack is the emotional connection. For many, the ability of a shoggoth to assume multiple genitalia, male and female, is purely a matter of sexual possibilities. Jean Ann Donnel’s Ms. Peaches doesn’t feel it’s homosexual to be with a shoggoth, no matter how many vulvas it may have at the moment; but her interest in Fi Fi, like Cantraip’s, is more than just sexual. There’s a romantic bond, above and beyond just the sexual one…and it’s a bond that Ms. Peaches and Cantraip learn to share with each other as well as Fi Fi.

Fi Fi had parts entwined, and in, both of them and covering them protectively. They slept in Fi Fi and Fi Fi in them, as well as in one another. They were not going back to the dysfunctional relationship group. The three of them felt their relationship was absolutely perfect just as it was.
—Jean Ann Donnel, “Shoggoth Makes Three” in Cthulhu Sex Magazine (2003), vol. 2, no. 16, 21

“Shoggoth Makes Three” has a happy ending…and, for what the story is, a short-short of only two pages, played for laughs, that’s workable. However, there is the potential in that setup for much more substantial and powerful stories that explore this kind of theme, of humans finding a meaningful relationship with an eldritch entity that extends beyond just sex, which eschews the limitations of gender.

Such a story is “Ink” by Bernie Mozjes in Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian EroticaWhile Mozjes doesn’t cover quite the same ground as Donnel (no therapy), “Ink” is played more seriously; the conclusion is less foregone, and the emotions being addressed have more kick. Donnel takes it for granted that the shoggoth, because of their multiple genitalia, is able to bridge the gap between men and women mostly on a sexual basis. Mozjes is more focused on what else might attract someone to enter into a polyamorous relationship with an eldritch entity—and why the polymorphic entity itself might enter into such a relationship.

Which is rare ground. It’s often a strange case for Mythos fiction, particularly Lovecraftian erotica, that regardless of how fantastic the physical forms and acts of copulation turn out to be, the actual basic mechanics tend to default to heteronormative values of sex and relationships. Whether that’s a collective failure of the imagination or catering to what the audience wants, who can tell? Yet it doesn’t seem that many people have written of, say, polygamous marriages in Innsmouth. For everyone that thinks every possibility for Mythos fiction has been explore…reconsider your preconceptions. There’s a lot stranger territory out there.

“Shoggoth Makes Three” by Jean Ann Donnel was first published in Cthulhu Sex Magazine (2003) vol. 2, no. 16. It has not been republished. Donnel had written some short-short fiction on the alt.cthulhu.sex Usenet group, and also published “Have You Found Him” in Eldritch Blue: Love & Sex in the Cthulhu Mythos (2004).


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“The Vulviflora of Vuutsavek” (2008) by Charlotte Alchemilla Smythe

As he went down the knoll into the valley, the enchanter heard an eery, plaintive singing, like that of sirens who bewail some irremediable misfortune. The singing came from a sisterhood of unusual creatures, half woman and half flower, that grew on the valley bottom beside a sleepy stream of purple water. There were several scores of these lovely and charming monsters, whose feminine bodies of pink and pearl reclined amid the vermilion velvet couches of billowing petals to which they were attached. These petals were borne on mattress-like leaves and heavy, short, well-rooted stems. The flowers were disposed in irregular circles, clustering thickly toward the center, and with open intervals in the outer rows.

Maal Dweb approached the flower-women with a certain caution; for he knew that they were vampires. Their arms ended in long tendrils, pale as ivory, swifter and more supple than the coils of darting serpents, with which they were wont to secure the unwary victims drawn by their singing. Of course, knowing in his wisdom the inexorable laws of nature, he felt no disapproval of such vampirism; but, on the other hand, he did not care to be its object.
—Clark Ashton Smith, “The Flower-Women” (Weird Tales, May 1935)

Weird Tales had three leading writers during the 1920s and 30s: H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. While not always the most popular or published, or even the most successful during their lifetimes, they stand above more prolific writers such as Seabury Quinn and H. Bedford Jones, and their work in the pulps is esteemed above the early work of successful later peers like Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman, C. L. Moore, and Margaret St. Clair.

Howard died in 1936; Lovecraft in 1937. Clark Ashton Smith survived until 1961, the only one of the three to outlive Weird Tales, though the latter portion of his life involved far less fiction and poetry than his fans and admirers would have liked, living for the most part a quiet life with his family, doing seasonal labor and working as a gardener for his livelihood. Smith is the only one of those three masters for which a record of his voice survives, in the Elder Tapes; and his published letters are an invaluable record of the creation of the Cthulhu Mythos, tracing his contacts with both H. P. Lovecraft during his life and, afterwards, with August Derleth at Arkham House.

Smith was wonderfully weird, and left behind a body of work that puts the romance in necromancy; stories such as “Mother of Toads” and “The Witchcraft of Ulua” could not be published uncensored in Weird Tales, and in later life he even wrote a drama titled “The Dead Will Cuckold You.” Which is not to say he was in any sense pornographic; his few efforts to sell to the Spicy pulps largely didn’t, unlike his friend Robert E. Howard. Rather, his prose was sensuous, often filled with long and curious words that conveyed shades of meaning and suggestions of eroticism that could not be put into print.

These scions were the various parts and members of human beings. Consumately, and with never faillng success, the magician had joined them to the half-vegetable, half-animate stocks on which they lived and grew thereafter, drawing an ichor-like sap. Thus were preserved the carefully chosen souvenirs of a multitude of persons who had inspired Dwerulas and the king with distaste or ennui. On palmy boles, beneath feathery-tufted foliage, tbe heads of eunuchs hung in bunches, like enormous black drupes. A bare, leafless creeper was flowered with the ears of delinquent guardsmen. Misshapen cacti were fruited with the breasts of women, or foliated with their hair. Entire limbs or torsos had been united with monstrous trees. Some of the huge salver-like blossoms bore palpitating hearts, and certain smaller blooms were centered with eyes that still opened and closed amid their lashes. And there were other graftings, too obscene or repellent for narration.

Adompha went forward among the hybrid growths, which stirred and rustled at his approach. The heads appeared to crane towards him a little, the ears quivered, the breasts shuddered lightly, the eyes widened or narrowed as if watching his progress.
—Clark Ashton Smith, “The Garden of Adompha,” (Weird Tales, Apr 1938)

For all of his longevity and enormous influence, Clark Ashton Smith remains the most under-studied, and often under-appreciated of the three masters of the weird tale. The amount of critical literature, biographical materials, published letters, etc. regarding him is an order of magnitude less than might be found for Robert E. Howard, which is itself less than that of H. P. Lovecraft. While Smith’s Mythos fiction and creations like Tsathoggua have inspired many authors to expand on his work, it is more often through the Lovecraftian lens of “The Mound” (1940) by Zealia Bishop & H. P. Lovecraft than Smith directly. There are simply fewer fans writing stories and novels set in Smith’s Zothique or Hyperborea than there are those writing works set in Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age.

More specifically, fans tend to be somewhat less apt to pastiche the work of Clark Ashton Smith, either in textual style or content. While many pasticheurs find some joy in aping H. P. Lovecraft’s occasionally ultraviolet prose and descriptions of the unnamable, or Robert E. Howard’s terse exclamations (“By Crom!”) and strive to emulate his fast-moving action, Smith doesn’t seem to attract quite the same effort. Whether the particular sardonic style and rich vocabulary is off-putting to would-be pastiche writers, or those who try simply fall a bit too far short of the real thing to be recognized as such, it remains that very few have tried to capture the peculiar and iconic mix of cosmic horror and sensuality that Clark Ashton Smith made seem so effortless in so many stories and poems.

Which is what resulted in Tales of Sex and Sorcery (2008) by “Charlotte Alchemilla Smythe.”

Chained with gold in chaises percées, slender ankles pedicled apart and tender vulvae exposed between silken thighs, the garden-girls of the emperor Vuutsavek first cursed the youth and beauty that doomed them, but came in time to new gratitude therefor, dying with ecstasies greater and more numerous than a hundred lifetimes of ordinary length might have granted them.
—Charlotte Alchemilla Smythe, “The Vulviflora of Vuutsavek” in Tales of Sex and Sorcery 18

Tales of Sex and Sorcery is number 87 in the ongoing chapbook series published by Rainfall in the United Kingdom, who have been publishing original fiction, poetry, and artwork in the vein of weird fiction and the pulps for years; the print runs are small and several of their works have become collector’s items because they featured the work of notable Mythos writers like W. H. Pugmire and Ann K. Schwader.

The 36-page chapbook by Smythe is as close to an erotic pastiche of Clark Ashton Smith’s prose as has probably ever been seriously attempted. There are 11 stories, so each of these qualifies as a “short-short” in terms of length, usually no more than two pages; some like “The Quarry” are set in Averoigne or some other of Smith’s settings, while others are more ambiguous. There is no “Vuutsavek” in the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, yet neither would the name or the theme be out of place in the body of work cultivated by the author of “The Flower-Women” and “The Garden of Adompha.” The stories get a touch more explicit than Smith ever did, but the language is precise: Smith liked to weave exposition into his prose fiction as much as he liked to hint and suggest.

Girls swallowed; seeds sprouted; florists succored: till at last the buds of the vulviflora, the quim-flowers wherefor the emperor waited, began to show between the girls’ writhing netherlips, having crept down the quim-sheath between orgasms.
—Charlotte Alchemilla Smythe, “The Vulviflora of Vuutsavek” in Tales of Sex and Sorcery 18

Who is “Charlotte Alchemilla Smythe?” No clue is given; the style is sufficiently consistent that it is probably a single author, and the most likely candidate is Simon Whitechapel, a self-declared “Logomagician” who has written a respectable amount of interesting Smith pastiche before, a good chunk of it published by Rainfall in its chapbook series, and other Smith-related anthologies. “The Vulvilora of Vuutsavek,” “The Nyctonymph,” “The Mastophilia of Amlimla,” and “The WIldering of the Capnomancer” from Tales of Sex and Sorcery would certainly fit right in with Whitechapel’s “The Erotodendra of Silcud-Psunur” “The Tears of the Melomancer,” “The Ascent of the Lepidopteromacher,” and “Walpurgisnachtmusik.” Whitechapel, at the least, has studied Smith’s style in depth:

Anyone who can read a Clark Ashton Smith story without reaching for the dictionary at least half-a-dozen times is either extremely well-read in a lot of recondite corners of literature or has read the story a few times before. Or prefers to go with the flow and let the meaning look after itself. If it’s the last, then the reader isn’t getting the most out of Smith, because watching the way he deploys the illimitable resources of his lexicon is, for me, one of the most enjoyable things about his work. When he uses an unusual word, it’s always because it’s the right word for the occasion, never simply for the sake of it.
—Simon Whitechapel, “Wizard with Words: An Appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith”
in Tales of Science & Sortilege (2005), 76

Tales of Sex and Sorcery is out of print, and the contents have not been reprinted.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“Herbert West and the Mammaries of Madness” (2015) by Dixie Pinoit

I cannot bring myself to speak of it, so of course I must. It is with terror and that utmost thrill of lust-filled despair that I write of my wedding night, that night that wouldst,—for any average couple, be filled with so much innocent discovery, so much joy in the uncovering of what a lifetime of connubial bliss is meant to be.
—Dixie Pinoit, “Herbert West and the Mammaries of Madness” in Lovecraft After Dark 144

The soundtrack to this review is “Move Your Dead Bones” (2003) by Dr. Reanimator (Jordi Cubino).

Parody is one of the great underappreciated modes of Lovecraftian erotica. All of the factors that make it so easy to pastiche Lovecraft’s fiction—the emphasis on surface features of purple prose and melodrama, the tendency to riff off of existing elements of the mythology, and the emphasis on taboo topics—are easy to twist into parody, usually by exaggerating the already over-exaggerated until the emotional language becomes just absurd. Once you cross the line from serious pastiche into parody, adding sex is pretty natural, given how many parallels there are. “Forbidden literature,” for example, can apply equally well to pornography as it can to eldritch tomes like the Necronomicon:

Doris didn’t like the Necronomicon, although she considered herself an emancipated and free-thinking young woman. There was something sinister, or to be downright honest about it, perverted about that book—and not in a nice, exciting way, but in a sick and frightening way. All those strange illustrations, always with five-sided borders just like the Pentagon in Washington, but with those people inside doing all those freaky sex acts with those other creatures that weren’t people at all.
—Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson, The Eye in the Pyramid (1975), 93

“Herbert West—Reanimator!” has for whatever reason been an unusually prolific target for parody and pastiche, both erotic and otherwise, as shown by such diverse works as “Kanye West—Reanimator” (2015) by Joshua Chaplinsky vs. “Herburt East: Refuckinator” (2012) by Lula Lisbon, “The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” (2012) by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette, “Herbert West in Love” (2012) by Molly TanzerRe-Animator (1985) with its infamous head-giving-head scene and its various sequels, and the hardcore adult film Re-Penetrator (2004, Burning Angel). So Dixie Pinoit in “Herbert West and the Mammaries of Madness” is in good company.

As it happens, Pinoit blends a few details between Lovecraft’s original opus and the 1985 film: where Jeffrey Combs (the actor for Herbert West) is brunet, Lovecraft had West as blond in the original novella, and Pinoit has West as a blond; where Lovecraft had West’s partner as a nameless protagonist, the 1985 film gives him the name Dan Cain, so Pinoit uses Dan Cain as the name for West’s assistant. It is the kind of detail that rewards the detail-oriented Mythos enthusiast, though easy to miss when the narrative lens turns to some of the other action:

Noticing that one of Elena’s awe-inspiring breasts had somehow freed itself from its restraints, I stroked it plaintively before restoring it to what could indeed become its burial shroud unless the doctor was simply premature in his determination of death.
—Dixie Pinoit, “Herbert West and the Mammaries of Madness” in Lovecraft After Dark 145

Chekov’s corpse. There is something wonderfully straightforward about Reanimator media, in that all you really need is a body at or rapidly cooling toward room temperature for the fun to start, and there’s a great deal of fun to be had in various scenarios about how the corpse came to be and what happens when it is eventually reanimated. A great deal of Reanimator adaptations can riff on this concept pretty much nonstop, but what makes it really work is not the practice of revivifying the dead—any Frankenstein-derived or zombie story can give you the thrill of the dead coming back to life—it’s Herbert West himself, with all of his quirks and monomania, which drives the plot. A good Reanimator story is about the Reanimator as much as the reanimated.

My beloved’s corpse now stripped of the ivory lace and silk wedding dress that had once adorned her curvaceous form, stripped bare under the yellow lights to make it easier for Dr. West to inject things into her delicious upper arms while her ample breasts and small tuft of pubic hair glistened and juggled from the force of his ministrations.
—Dixie Pinoit, “Herbert West and the Mammaries of Madness” in Lovecraft After Dark 148

Readers that think they know where this is going are still in for a surprise or two; the protagonist surely was. Pinoit by this point plays a little fast and loose with the “rules” of reanimation—murderous bloodlust is out, and certain other types of lust are very much in—but the subversion of expectations, especially when transgressive and exaggerated for comedic effect, are common techniques in all parody.

Yet for all the surprises, one of the most notable is that Pinoit is obviously a fan as much as a pornographer. The nameless Lovecraftian protagonist is actually a Lovecraftian protagonist, inspired by the events of Lovecraft’s life and so the characterization—a parody of Lovecraft’s style—is really an affectionate tribute to the Old Gent himself.

Sales plummeted until the hat shop could no longer support us.

Eventually she moved away to start over. A larger town, where her curious predilections were less likely to be remarked upon amongst a larger populous, and would perhaps even be welcomed by an adventurous few.

I did not go with her.
—Dixie Pinoit, “Herbert West and the Mammaries of Madness” in Lovecraft After Dark 154

Lovecraft as the star of an erotic story might seem odd, or even off-putting at first glance, but Pinoit is far from the only one to do it; Edward Lee has used Lovecraft (or a character based on him) in several of his “Hardcore Lovecraft” novels and novellas, especially Pages Torn from a Travel Journal (2013) and Trolley No. 1852 (2010). These depictions are often exaggerated for humor as much or more than erotic value, but there is a real amount of effort put into some of these stories to embed aspect of Lovecraft’s life, style, fiction, and just plain character into the fictionalization. These are homages—and speak as much to how Lovecraft himself has become a part of his own artificial mythology.

Considering how much interest has been devoted to Lovecraft’s sex life after his death by fans and scholars alike, this aspect of his character—his sexuality and sexual experiences, real or imagined—present what might be one of the more ultimate taboos to transgress. If you as a reader are at all squicked out at the thought of H. P. Lovecraft having sex, then the author has succeeded at their goal. If you’re excited at the idea of your literary idol getting laid, then the author has also succeeded! The whole point of using a character that is such an obvious version of Lovecraft is to evoke some visceral or emotional reaction from the reader. This effect can only be achieved because of the degree of posthumous fame that Lovecraft has achieved.

While there are few people that might write the Lovecraftian equivalent to Rachel Bloom’s “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” (2010), the same basic idea has found expression in the Mythos. H. P. Lovecraft may be dead, but as a fictional character he can do things he never did in life; he has been in many ways reanimated himself—and the interest is not necessarily in what the literary corpse of Lovecraft does, but in why the reanimator has brought them back, and how. In many cases, like this one, it is little more than an in-joke—a nod and a wink to the dedicated Lovecraftian that found themselves coming to the end of this erotic tale—but it is also a tribute to the lasting appeal of H. P. Lovecraft as a character, that he can be inserted into a story such and expect to be recognized, without his name ever being given.

“Herbert West and the Mammaries of Madness” appeared in the erotic Cthulhu Mythos anthology Lovecraft after Dark (2015).


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“The Artist’s Retreat” (2011) by Annabeth Leong

Do you crave intellectual tentacle porn?
—Ad copy, Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian Erotica (2011)

What is “Lovecraftian erotica?” If you rule out erotic works that directly parody or refer to the stories Lovecraft wrote, such as “Herburt East: Refuckinator” (2012) by Lula Lisbon or “The Ape in Me: A Tale of Lovecraftian Lust” (2016) by Raine Roka; his creations such as Cthulhu and the Necronomicon in works like “Le Pornomicon” (2005) by Logan Kowalsky or Mother Hydra in “Pages Found Among the Effects of Miss Edith M. Teller” (2005) by Caitlín R. Kiernan; those rare erotic works that refer to or depict Lovecraft directly as a character—as in Edward Lee’s Trolley No. 1852 (2010)—then what you have left is a very vaguely defined body of erotic materials which that take more nebulous inspiration from Lovecraft’s ideas of cosmic horror and the tropes of Mythos fiction that came later, but don’t directly attempt to incorporate the man or the Mythos.

For many Lovecraftian erotic works, the tropes and set dressing are usually as far as the author cares to take things. Tentacles often make their appearance, ancient gods or eldritch entities come when summoned, sacrifices are usually less than virginal and surprisingly enthusiastic, and the whole pornographic scenario often reads like a bootleg X-rated session of the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game. Lindsey Purl’s erotic triptych Tentacles of the Elder Gods (2013), which involves “Kum-Shaggurath” is an exemplar of this kind of fiction. Quality and creativity varies; few works are erotic classics, but are often packaged and sold as disposable literature. Intended as flash entertainment, they answer to a momentary need, often as part of a brief zeitgeist, and then quickly sink out of sight into online back catalogs or other form of obscurity.

Then you have works like Annabeth Leong’s “The Artist’s Retreat.”

The dreams were confused and irresolute, but there was nothing vague about the position in which I work. I snatched my hand from where it lay nestled between my legs and tried to ignore the throbbing there. Sweat soaked the pillows and bed beneath me, and the sheets were tangled around my legs as if I’d been rolling from one side of the bed to the other all night. Sometime, I’d managed to yank my nightshirt up and off one arm, leaving one breast free to the chill air of my dark and silent room. Shivering, I pulled the garment down and fathered my blankets more tightly around me.
—Annabeth Leong, “The Artist’s Retreat” in Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian Erotica (2011)

The distinction between “The Artist’s Retreat” and any other work of Lovecraftian fiction, like say “From the Cold Dark Sea” (2016) by Storm Constantine, is one of degree rather than kind. Leong’s work is in an anthology of erotic Lovecraftian fiction, and the erotic element appears early and grows more intense throughout; it is a central part of the plot, where in most other Lovecraftian works sex is usually not the primary focus of the narrative lens. That aside, the work is really nothing less than an original story that draws obvious inspiration from Lovecraft and the Mythos without feeling the need to directly invoke or squeeze itself into the framework of the Mythos.

The distinction shifts the reader’s focus from looking for tie-ins or how the story might into the bigger picture of Mythos lore and instead the reader might begin to see “The Artist’s Retreat” as something that fits into Lovecraft’s milieu, and pursues some of his themes, yet in a way that Lovecraft and most of his co-creators in the Mythos would never have put together. There are the same-gender heterosexual friends, one of them an artist; very much a Lovecraftian pairing…until they become something more. There is the setting, in a rural Massachusetts that Lovecraft might find familiar, but not in any named and denoted part of his Lovecraft Country. There is the tricky distinction of that thing, seen and unseeable, which invokes Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” Guy de Maupassant’s “The Horla,” Ambrose Bierce’s “The Damned” thing…yet what it does under Leong’s direction is nothing like what any of those authors would have their creations do.

“The Artist’s Retreat” is, after all, Lovecraftian erotica.

Many writers appear to find it difficult to pursue both weird and erotic themes simultaneously. Lovecraft in “Supernatural Horror in Literature” emphasized:

The one test of the really weird is simply this—whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim. And of course, the more completely and unifiedly a story conveys this atmosphere, the better it is as a work of art in the given medium.

It is a rare story that can both scary and erotic; that can work that atmosphere of the sense of outside contact with the intensely grounded sensations of physical eroticism. Not impossible, because for all their differences, there are points of commonality: the sense of heightened awareness brought about by sexual arousal and the fear-response, the titillation and excitement when it comes to approaching and then violating some taboo, the psychological impact and physical consequences that may result from such sudden violations, with all their long-term ramifications…these are the building blocks of erotic horror, as shown in works like Ramsey Campbell’s “The Faces at Pine Dunes” (1980) and his exquisite novel The Darkest Part of the Woods (2003).

Part of what makes “The Artist’s Retreat” successful is the atmosphere. The pacing is steady, but takes its time setting up each scene, providing small climaxes for each chapter, letting the protagonist Edie sink deeper and deeper into the mystery and the renewed friendship with her painter friend Olivia. there aren’t any huge surprises; the plot might almost be called formulaic in how the Lovecraftian protagonist is compelled to leave their familiar surrounds for an isolated local, where they sink into strangeness—it worked for Lovecraft in “The Festival,” and it worked for Silvia Moreno-Garcia in Mexican Gothic (2020), and it works for Annabeth Leong here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing a familiar plot straight, so long as it is done well…and it helps that the weird parts are refreshingly weird, not just a priapic Cthulhu.

The cryptic images did not depict any shaps or beings I know—still, they stirred me. I got to my knees beside Olivia, and together we explored the contours of the boulder. I could not piece together an overall image of the design. Neither could I decode any individual piece. But the longer I ran my fingers over it, and the longer I knelt beside her and stared, the more I began to see flashes of meaning. Two coiled appendages, wound around each other and rubbing their undersides together obscenely; what could have been a thousand tiny fingers caressing a swollen, monolithic shaft; a long and muscular tongue, curved into a suggestive question.
—Annabeth Leong, “The Artist’s Retreat” in Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian Erotica (2011)

Leong’s story fits well into an anthology of Lovecraftian erotica, but it could fit just as well into a mainstream Lovecraftian anthology. Nothing of the weird atmosphere is sacrificed for the erotic, and nothing of the erotic is sacrificed for the weird. They work together, hand in hand, and while they echo the ways sex was used as an entry point for beings from outside in Lovecraft’s fiction—think of “The Dunwich Horror”—the way that it works is ultimately original, fresh, and well done.

“The Artist’s Retreat” by Annabeth Leong was published in Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian Erotica (2011) by Circlet Press. Her other Lovecraftian works include “Our Child” in Conqueror Womb: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath (2014) by Martian Migraine Press.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).