Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cthulhu in Neverwhere

One of my favourite movies from the 1980's is Heavy Metal.  I was 15 years old when it came out - just the right age to really appreciate animated nudity, and at the height of my D&D years, it proved to be a big influence on my gaming as well.  I once created a campaign whose main villain was a priest of Set who carried a scepter with a glowing green orb that had the power to corrupt the souls of others: a not-too-subtle reference to the Loc-nar from Heavy Metal.  I also often had the soundtrack from the movie playing while I planned adventures; in fact, I bought the Heavy Metal soundtrack on CD about a year ago and now often play it when I'm painting miniatures.

This evening I decided to spend the rainy night on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch Heavy Metal and was struck by a revelation that was probably obvious to everyone else who has ever seen the movie.

In the sequence entitled 'Den' by Richard Corben, shortly after Den arrives in Neverwhere he witnesses a priestess about to sacrifice a naked woman in a ritual to summon the god that sounds phonetically like Oo-la-tec.  For some reason, it never occurred to me before, that this sounds an awful lot like Cthulhu backwards.  A quick consultation with Wikipedia confirmed that Oo-la-tec is actually spelled 'Uhluhtc.'

I've never read much of Corben's Neverwhere comics and have only just discovered that they are heavily inspired by Howard's Hyborian Age, Burroughs's Barsoom, and Lovecraft's mythos.  Now that I know, I'm going to have to try and track down the Neverwhere collections.

My wife has sometimes called me "the most unobservant person in the world" and if a Cthulhu-phile who has watched Heavy Metal as many times over nearly thirty years as I have can have missed the obvious reference to Cthulhu for so long, she may be right.

2 comments:

P. S. Mangus said...

Richard Corben is a genius. Nuff said...

Sean Robson said...

I love Corben's art. I read Heavy Metal only sporadically since I was more into Epic Illustrated at the time, so I only ever got to read occasional chapters of 'Den.'

Sadly a used copy of the first 'Neverwhere' collection runs between $80-$100 on Amazon, so I'm going to have to decide how badly I want this or try to find a cheaper copy somewhere.