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We all recognize the squamous dude below as Cthulhu. As far as I know, the only place HPL described the Big C was in the story "The Call of Cthulhu." (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

How closely does this 'typical' image of Cthulhu match up with Lovecraft's description(s) of him? Does it incorporate traits described by later Mythos authors?

Cthulhu

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    "As far as I know, the only place HPL described the Big C was in the story "The Call of Cthulhu." (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)" Could you be more wrong!?! HPL also described Cthulhu at length in the tense spy drama Cthulhu's People and the knockabout family romp Cthulhu Goes Bananas. – Paul D. Waite Jul 12 '13 at 14:49
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    Wikipedia has a sketch of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft himself, which may help answer both your question, and the question "why didn't H.P. Lovecraft illustrate his own books?" – Paul D. Waite Jul 12 '13 at 14:59
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    @PaulD.Waite If you combined that link with an excerpt of the description from the story, I'd upvote it. – Discord Jul 12 '13 at 15:13
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    @PaulD.Waite - don't worry, if someone like that is around, they can post a second answer, and make the internet even an awsomer place with both your answers :) In other words, please post your answer, it will be appreciated. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 13 '13 at 16:33
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Alrighty, in the absence of more informed answers:

I think you’re right that Lovecraft only described Cthulhu in The Call of Cthulhu. The description there reads:

A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.

Your image seems to match that pretty well, although I wonder if the arm fins and little claw bits on the wings were drawn from other mythos authors. (I’m not familiar with non-Lovecraft mythos works, so I’m not sure.)

It’s worth noting that H. P. Lovecraft did his own sketch of the Cthulhu idol described in The Call of.... It ties up reasonably well with your image, but perhaps also demonstrates why Lovecraft didn’t illustrate his own publications:

Cthulhu, as sketched by H. P. Lovecraft

For fun comparisons with other fictional works, check out this page, a great example of why Wikipedia exists.

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The common picturing of Cthulhu is correct, minus the "bloated corpulence" that Lovecraft put into Call of Cthulhu, although hard to picture is his meta-physicality. He is metaphysical, not physical, which would be quite hard to show in drawings/ pictures.

  • This doesn't really add anything to the answer already there. – Bellatrix Sep 25 '17 at 23:53
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    Cthulhu is buff in the OP picture. Likely fat in Lovecraft's drawing. Nice to know Lovecraft meant that. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 20 '18 at 19:30

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