But Melville isn't the author nearest to my heart. That distinction belongs to Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
|From The Haunter of the Dark: And Other|
Grotesque Visions, illus. John Coulthart
More than anything else, it was matter of timing: Lovecraft was the author who made the greatest impression on me during my teenage years. (John Steinbeck is a rather distant runner-up.) Somewhere on the borderline of middle school and high schoool, when I was still heavily into Magic: the Gathering (ask me later how I feel about the return of the Eldrazi, by the way) I tried never to miss an issue of InQuest magazine—once Wizard's sister-publication, treating CCGs and tabletop RPGs. It was in the pages of InQuest I first read about Cthulhu, the Mi-Go, and their neurotic New England chronicler. Most of the issues in my collection carried ads for the latest expansion set for the Mythos CCG, and the occasional "how to" article about setting the tone of a tabletop RPG session referred to Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG. But it was the magazine's whimsical humor pieces (often penned by editor Rick Swan) that most caught my attention. Once a year or so, InQuest conducted what might be called the print precursor to the ComicVine character battle thread, pitting famous sci-fi and fantasy characters against each other in single combat. I remember very few of them: Paul Altrides (Dune) vs. Luke Skywalker (Star Wars). The marine (DOOM) vs. a Predator (from Predator). King Arthur vs. Elric (of Michael Moorcock's novels). One of the matchups was Sauron (Lord of the Rings) vs. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. I can still paraphrase how that one went: