Still playing around with hounds, horror and art. Further to last week’s post, the greatest horror at the moment is looking at the back garden and seeing what a combination of three dogs and four days of rain have produced.
A waterlogged medieval cart-track wanders down the centre of the ex-lawn, leading to a wet pit which was the pond. Despite having tied the pond marginals in with stakes and wire, Django has managed to drown most of them. After that, the autumn fall of sweet chestnuts still too small to eat has produced the effect of hundreds of little mines floating on top of the drowned plants. I keep expecting to see tiny submarine periscopes popping up.
And Django’s mound, the earth he dug up to sleep on in the summer, is a mudslide waiting to happen. Soon a TV network reporter will be found strolling through the garden, camera crew behind her. “This once proud land, now reduced to…”
Now, proper stuff. In Carnacki news today, greydogtales celebrated William Hope Hodgson for a month and forgot to mention Carnacki’s appearance in Alan Moore‘s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. So we rectify that with an illo from the graphic novel Century: 1910.
Another snippet: we hear that Big Finish productions are adding Carnacki to their large audio range, with anticipated release of six of the original stories in one bumper audiobook, early next year. With a little luck, we hope to have a full feature on greydogtales before release date.
Our theme picture for today comes courtesy of Andy Paciorek, a graphic artist who draws much of his inspiration from folklore and myths. Andy is a major source of folklore and folk-horror information and is a leading light in the Folk Horror Revival group on facebook, a lively group well worth a visit. He’s illustrated many books as well as his own, and does some terrific artwork. Here’s a sample:
Andy also did the interior art for Cumbrian Cthulhu:
You can find out more about Andy Paciorek’s latest book, Strange Lands, through the link below the cover.
Because we like to be inspirational grasshoppers when we’re not being longdogs, we’ve picked three examples of hounds from weird/fantasy fiction to have a brief play in the wasteland.
The most weird and horrific are, of course, not dogs at all – they’re the Hounds of Tindalos. See, we cheated. They first appeared in 1929 in Frank Belknap Long‘s story (guess), The Hounds of Tindalos.
“They are lean and athirst!” he shrieked… “All the evil in the universe was concentrated in their lean, hungry bodies. Or had they bodies? I saw them only for a moment, I cannot be certain.”
To some extent these beasts are an artist’s dream, because no-one has really worked out what they look like. As extra-dimensional creatures of Lovecraftian nature, they inhabit different geometries, and no humans who meet them survive long enough to give a proper description. Some suggest that they are more insectoid, but to be honest if you drew a flower-pot with a long tongue, you couldn’t be told that you were wrong. Still, the general impression is of something thin and twisting and very hungry.
August Derleth, a great chap for trying to take anything vaguely Cthulhoid and nail it to a single plank, incorporated the Hounds of Tindalos into his Cthulhu Mythos. Though, if you want to be fair to Derleth, H P Lovecraft himself did mention them in his The Whisperer in Darkness two years later:
“…and I was told the essence (though not the source) of the Hounds of Tindalos.”
They were also resurrected by Brian Lumley in order they could hunt down Titus Crow and Henri-Laurent de Marigny. The first hunt is in his book The Transition of Titus Crow, the second in Elysia. We have to admit that we can’t get over-excited about Elysia, because it drags our occult detective into HPL’s Dreamscape (or Dream Cycle), which is less involving than Crow solving earth-based occult mysteries. Neither books are frankly as much fun as The Burrowers Beneath, which we read whenever we hear of an earthquake somewhere…
(The Hounds of Tindalos is also the title of Long’s 1946 collection of weird stories, originally published by Arkham House.)
Stephen Erikson deserves a mention because of his Hounds of Shadow, from the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Despite being an increasingly complicated set of door-stops, this massive series does have some wonderful elements. We actually like Erikson’s work a lot, but haven’t the energy to keep up with it, so it’s our fault really.
The Hounds of Shadow are actual hounds this time, the servants of High House Shadow. They are large, more the size of a small horse than a dog, with mottled grey/black fur and gleaming eyes. They are also better muscled than Charles Atlas (get grandma to explain that one).
“There was around each beast an aura of dreadful competence, wrought with vast antiquity like threads of iron.”
They sound much like many interpretations of our beloved Yorkshire black hound, the barghest – see earlier post game of groans & clanking chains . This observation is only confused by Erikson’s use of the term barghast to describe a race of pre- or neanderthalian humans with rather sharp teeth themselves.
And finally, very briefly, to our favourites, the Hounds of the Morrigan. Featuring in that wonderful 1985 novel of the same name by the late Pat O’Shea, they serve, unsurprisingly, the Morrigan. We love the simplicity of that. The hounds themselves are actually quite likeable, considering that they serve the Witch-Queen, and in the end we felt rather sorry for them. An infinitely re-readable book supposedly aimed at children or young adults, it takes fantasy further than many adult books in the genre. With likeable characters and a fabulous re-writing of Celtic legends, we give this five paws (sorry, stars).
Next time: Heaven knows. I’m busy collating art and interviews…