Many if not all depictions of Cthulhu tend to show him as an octopus stuck on top of a man's body. Sometimes that body also seems a tad too muscly and superhero-ish, for reasons I can't quite fathom. I've never been all that sure that such depictions are Lovecraftian enough. By that I mean that they tend to be a tad too normal, for want of a better word.
The great thing about the various creatures created and described by Lovecraft is that they are never run of the mill. Put simply, they're odd. They're a weird amalgam of things, none of which seem particularly human-like (aside perhaps from Deep Ones, but they're cross-breeds). Certain themes tend to flow through Lovecraft's monsters, some of which tend to revolve around an apparent unease with anything fish-related. Other than that, there are tentacles or odd appendages, and hints of mollusc and wings - and that's when Lovecraft isn't completely going off on his own tangent. There isn't anything overtly described as being exactly like any of these things, however. There's just hints and scrabbling by the narrator in order to make some sense of what they're seeing.
Cthulhu is not some sort of buff guy with an octopus for a head. If anything, that tends to sell the description short. One also has to bear in mind that there are drawings of Cthulhu made by Lovecraft himself, such as this one:
|Derived from the Wikipedia entry on Cthulhu|
The above tends to tally more closely, of course, with Lovecraft's written description. But it also adds more flesh to the idea - in more ways than one. Rather than being a muscled super guy, the surprising thing to me is that Cthulhu is a fat blob of a thing. He has multiple eyes, of a somewhat fishy nature. The legs are almost chicken-like. There are suggestions of things that one can vaguely recognise, but as a whole it's an ugly mass that reminds the viewer of certain shapes but then goes off at a typically Lovecraftian angle. He's only octopid in a very, very vague way and he certainly doesn't have the physique of a Greek god. Okay, you might say that Lovecraft wasn't a great draftsman. I'd say that works in favour of his drawing. He's boiled things down to basic shapes and the basic gist of his mental image seems to be there.
So, taking that as my cue, I decided to rustle up a quick scribble of how this all blends together in my mind:
He's odd, but he's not an octopus...
Click here for Part Two
Click here for Part Two