SFcrowsnest

Cthulhu: The Ancient One Tribute Box Booklet by Steve Mockus (book and model review)

The publicity blurb of ‘Cthulhu: The Ancient One Tribute Box’ accompanying this figurine and booklet describe Cthulhu as a ‘signature character’ who is as ‘emblematic for Lovecraft fans’ in the same way as ‘Darth Vader is for Star Wars’. But, in all honesty, I think that’s missing the point. Except for a single short story, Cthulhu doesn’t feature as a character in any of Lovecraft’s other stories at all and, even in ‘The Call Of Cthulhu’, he only makes a brief appearance as a monster rather than as a character. As ST Joshi has pointed out many times, usually with a measure of scorn directed at those who focus too strongly on the monsters over the cosmic horror, the Cthulhu Mythos gods aren’t really characters at all, but rather embodiments of the sorts of threats that Lovecraft liked to explore in his stories.

Joshi doesn’t try to play down the importance of Cthulhu in popular culture. Even people who have never read any of Lovecraft’s original fiction will have seen or heard of Cthulhu in one medium or another. This is where the packaging of a short but concise little booklet really comes into its own. Steve Mockus has written a number of pop culture books, mostly aimed at the gift-book end of the market, and, while the amount of text scattered across the forty-odd pages is pretty sparse, he certainly covers all the obvious angles.

Mockus picks and chooses from a number of genres, from heavy metal through to children’s books, briefly explaining how Lovecraft’s most famous monster was referenced. We’ve got the obvious, like the ‘Call Of Cthulhu’ role-playing game, as well as the less obvious, such as knitwear. For sure, there’s nothing here that the average Lovecraft fan won’t be familiar with but, seeing it all in one place like this, helps to reinforce the impact Cthulhu has had on popular culture in recent years.

Of course, nobody will be buying this boxed set for the booklet! The main draw is the resin statuette, which oozes quality. There are any number of Cthulhu collectibles out there, including statues of all sizes at all sorts of price points, including ones costing hundreds of dollars but, for fifteen quid, this particular statuette is an absolute bargain. It’s a decent size at about 12cm (just under 6 inches) in height and weighs in at over 300 grams. It’s beautifully painted in varying shades of green and black and the figure’s pose is suitably sinister.

As always with Cthulhu figurines, the artist has to make some design choices because of the deliberate vagueness of the creature as described by Lovecraft but there’s nothing here that’s going to cause fans to roll their eyes. The reptilian wings work, the heavy brow evokes malign thoughtfulness nicely and the great mass of tentacles seem to writhe nastily.

The rest of the presentation is equally solid. Cthulhu sits atop a cyclopean plinth etched with alien runes and the presentation box itself includes a sturdy display stand and backdrop featuring an agreeably eerie green pattern. So, while the statuette certainly looks best outside the box, if you want to leave it inside the box it still looks very good indeed.

In short, if you’ve ever wanted a Cthulhu statuette to ensure troubled dreams and eldritch visions, ‘ Cthulhu: The Ancient One Tribute Box’ is a bit of a no-brainer. Highly recommended!

Neale Monks

September 2016

(pub: Chronicle Books. 44 page paperback, statuette and display case. Price: £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1452144771)

check out website: www.chroniclebooks.com