Even the Jersey Devil worships the Great Old Ones

Lovecraft coverWhen I was in high school, I was a huge horror fan. I plowed through Stephen King, devoured Clive Barker, dabbled in Dean Koontz. When I discovered that Poe — which we were supposed to read for school and was therefore supposed to be boring — was actually a killer horror writer, I plunged into older works. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter might have been some ponderous love story with a miserable ending, but wow, was “Young Goodman Brown” a spooky story of Satan worship! Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is way creepier than Disney lets on. And some Brit who briefly lived in Canada wrote a wickedly terrifying story about a North American legend I’d never even heard of before (seriously, you need to read Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo”).

And then I found H.P. Lovecraft.

The first story I read was “The Outsider,” and for my angsty teenage self, it was a revelation. I hurried through “The Rats in the Walls,” “The Unnameable,” “The Colour Out of Space,” “The Thing on the Doorstep,” “The Dunwich Horror” . . . . And “The Call of Cthulhu.”

On and on. Late into the deepest hours of the night.

I read every story two or three times just in my few years of high school. I talked about him with some of my friends, but I mostly kept him to myself, hoarding him, as though I’d make some rare discovery, unearthed this genius no one else knew about, and had to keep him a secret lest the world at large ruin him with their failure to understand him the way I understood him.

Thank god I’m not a teenager anymore.

Still, I keep coming back to Lovecraft. His dense, filigreed prose; his murky, complex mythos; his brooding perspective on the depravity of human beings — our lusts, our fears. . . . I love that man.

So it was with giddy enthusiasm that I joined the other editors in the idea of running a special Lovecraft-themed issue of Jersey Devil Press. And that issue has finally arisen from the deep.

Of course, when we do Lovecraft, we do it Jersey Devil-style. Drug-infused Gonzo journalism meets satanic cults. The Necronomicon gets turned into home-improvement television. “The Cats of Ulthar” now include Puss-in-Boots. And Cthulhu becomes a chicken.

But fear not: not all is wacky (though very reverent) twists on our beloved author’s genre. We made sure to end with true horror and unnatural births. (If you’re reading late at night, I wouldn’t save “The Watchers in the Dark” for last.) Plus, there is the deliciously eerie cover art by returning artist Justin McElroy (whose work you can find here and here. Behold it and squirm.

So chant on, worshipers! Call forth the latest issue of Jersey Devil Press, and embrace the madness!

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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