The Art Collab

I wrote a little bit about how I got into writing and why I write for the “Professor’s Corner” segment of the Monroe Art Collaborative, the fledgling writing/art club we’re trying to get going at one of the colleges I teach at.

I’m an adjunct faculty member at Monroe College, and this collaborative/club is something I thought about getting going as part of an effort to get .

It’s hard. When I freelanced in college I made very little money doing it, and nowadays, there’s even less money in it. Too often I worked for recommendations, for copies of the magazines I appeared in, for copies of records or books I reviewed. Once I got paid in comic books, and another time an editor dropped me from a publication for questioning why we were being cut to less than minimum wage, again.

You should check the whole thing out (it’s also on Facebook), we’re trying to get the students writing and publishing and getting their work out there (as well as slowly getting writing workshopping, learning about the submission process, and editing basics going on). I’m excited to see where it goes and what students get out of it.


So I decided to revive my serialized PI story, Black Ink, starring Ben Miles, haphazard private eye and part-time bail bondsman. It’s back! And…if you’ve never read it or heard of it before, it’s new!

Manta Books brings in not-that-efficient PI/part-time bondsman Ben Miles to track down a missing piece of art, a seemingly-simple job involving newspaper cartoons and digging through boxes of paper. But nothing is what it seems when it comes to a Ben Miles case, and more than likely, he’s gonna end up getting his ass kicked over a comic book.

If you haven’t read chapter 1, you can start here.

I initially was writing and publishing Black Ink chapter by chapter through 2013 and 2014, but time and teaching obligations meant I had to basically leave it by the wayside, which sucked. Ben Miles is the character I invented for my short story collection RUNNING THE TRAIN…AND OTHER STORIES, and I’ve used him in one or two other stories for other stuff since then.

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, I’ll be re-posting and re-sharing the chapters of the story (which I know are all up, I know…) from the start, on a regular basis before we get to new chapters to wrap this story up, and see what happens with Ben Miles, his usual motley friends (including the far-more proficient Kalli Kiliaris), and…a comic strip.

In The Cul De Sac


I found out that Richard Thompson died yesterday, from Parkinson’s complications.

I don’t really know what to say or what to write, and I re-did this over and over a few times. Suffice to say, one email, a “thanks!” on the cover of the TCDS “Favorites” ‘zine was as close as I got. He wasn’t a friend, more a friend of a few casual acquaintances. But his work was amazing and wonderful and brilliant and so intensely inspirational. If you’ve never read any of his work, seriously, look some up and just be prepared to waste a whole day marveling at his lines, inks, color usage. I can’t really adequately describe just how amazing his work was to me or how it impacted my writing and my cartooning (when I did draw comics), but it is, and it did.

Being a part of the Team Cul De Sac book was the biggest thing publishing-wise that I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m incredibly grateful I was allowed to participate in the book, the ‘zine, and that my work was not only picked for the book part of the project, but also got auctioned off to raise money for TEAMFOX and Parkinson’s research.

I’m just bummed. We’ll miss you Richard, and we miss Alice.


Old Fears, New Frontiers

Airport novel(s) represent a literary genre that is not so much defined by its plot or cast of stock characters, as much as it is by the social function it serves. An airport novel is typically a fairly long but fast-paced novel of intrigue or adventure that is stereotypically found in the reading fare offered by airport newsstands for travellers to read in the rounds of sitting and waiting that constitute air travel.

Considering the marketing of fiction as a trade, airport novels occupy a niche similar to the one that once was occupied by pulp magazine fiction and other reading materials typically sold at newsstands and kiosks to travellers.

I know I’ve talked about it before, but I have a weird nostalgic soft spot for things that seemingly don’t seem that nostalgia-ready, or nostalgia-inclined, to be more specific. Nerd culture is so geared in the past few years to take advantage of that roughly 20-year cycle that captures and re-packages work for a new younger generation (either rebranding it as something new or revitalizing it in its original entirety) that

I finished up watching the Netflix original series Stranger Things last week. My girlfriend and I broke up watching it over a period of three days, this story of middle-school kids in a 1980s suburb getting caught up in the disappearance of their friend Will, and the sci-fi/supernatural elements of the whole incident as it spreads through the whole town.

The Stephen King homages are all over the place, rom fthe story elements, a variety of little King homages in the background of the story and dialogue, to the similarities to King’s Firestarter (I love whenever anyone mentions MK-ULTRA). It’s capturing a lot of elements that had started to build up in the 1970’s and were fully coming into fruition in the 1980’s about the remnants of military experiments, the height of the Cold War (which is floating in the background of this whole thing), and the beginning of suburban malaise creeping into the perfect middle-class facade being built here, in the shadow of military industry and of degrading lives.

It’s obvious tells, and one that I’m good with, because I really enjoyed Stranger Things. It’s fun and doesn’t allow itself to be overcome with in-jokes or references to the 1980’s, but rather, simply uses it as a background for telling a story. Most of the interesting bits about the story are little things that hint at so much more going on, or have had gone on, that the show doesn’t feel compelled to touch on. It can be easy to be distracted with offshoots and flashbacks, instead of allowing multiple elements like that to enhance a singular narrative.


So much of modern nostalgia is heavily drawing on what is seen as relatable to popular imagery and consumerism nowadays, so nerd stuff is popular now, hence why nerd stuff from 20 to 30 years ago is also popular again. This issue here though, is that whether or not that’s genuinely nostalgia is interesting, because then we get down to the definition of the word itself;

pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again

My girlfriend really likes Dean Koontz novels. For some reason, they’re something from her childhood, something that sticks out as a standard of the library, of the 99-cent shelf at the bookstore. I read Koontz too as a kid, with King, with Grisham, with McBane and who knows how many I’ve forgotten.

I’ve forgotten a lot of them.

However, I’ve never forgotten how they made me feel, and more importantly, why they made me feel the way that they did. They have heavy ties to memories of being a lonely kid obsessed with books, of being an English-speaking kid in another country, and of summers even more isolated from friends and TV, reliant on almost any kind of English-language books I could get my hands on, including cheap “airport paperbacks” from

So much of nostalgia is mischaracterized as some sort of rosy-tinted view of the past, though in fact, a lot of that comes from the commercialization of that concept to be able to present flawed (“problematic,” ugh, I hate that word, but that’s another story) artifacts as aspirational objects and concepts to once again reach for, now fully armed with the resources to “appreciate” them. In fact though, nostalgia should be not finally being able to get that cool NES poster or vocalizing for a so-called simpler time in your childhood, because that’s not actually nostalgia. That’s fantasy.

The Merriam-Webster definition not only states that sadness, as well as pleasure, fall under the auspices of nostalgia, but it also specifies the element of experience, and of wanting to maintain or relive that experience.

That point exactly about the reliving of an experience is, at the heart of it, what worked when it came to STRANGER THINGS.


 A lot of the nostalgia surrounding this show, I think, has to do not necessarily with the era per se or with the elements of the story that are sci-fi and horror related, although they are very much a part of it as well. What I connect to here, and what makes it work, is the idea of young kids participating in an adventure that’s so much bigger than them, but they want to be a part of it so badly.

Overall, the nostalgic effect of STRANGER THINGS isn’t necessarily the setting or the story itself, but rather then sense of the story that we connect to, as kids who were for the most part left alone to our own devices. In that freedom, however limited it was in hindsight (age, experience, range of travel within our communities, etc) we were heroes of our own stories, and we tried to involve ourselves a seriously as we could in them.

The D&D the main characters all play, opening and closing the show, is more than just a set of thematic bookends here. It’s an experience, and ultimately, that experience of heroism brought to life is the heart of STRANGER THINGS. It’s what truly makes people really love this show, because we feel a level of nostalgia for a time not of walkie-talkies and D&D, but of the experiences of youth that are tied into our own personal journeys of becoming the heroes we wanted to to so desperately be. I know I did, a dorky kid into comics and fantasy novels who so badly wanted to be a part of those worlds at times, because I knew that I had the fortitude and demeanor for black-and-white hyper-simplified conflicts that were waved away when the going got too tough for a 12-year old in glasses and a dorky haircut who got picked on.

What I loved about this show was that I felt like that could have been me, thinking that as a kid I could engage in this grand adventure, an adventure that felt so intensely serious and that only I knew the truth of. While mine never got beyond exploring old empty houses and creating a “hidden cave” in a space in my backyard between some trees, the back of a garage, and the shrubbery (which ended up being fucking infested with spiders), Mike, El, Lucas, and Dustin really did have that adventure. Fuck, in some tiny way, I’m jealous of these fiction characters for that, and that is why this show worked.


Being nostalgic for things and overall larger cultural movements and items sort of defeats the purpose of any kind of positive nostalgia, honestly. Be nostalgic for feelings, for personal moments and memories, instead. Be aware of what it is you’re trying to recapture, because if it isn’t in something with an actual connection and backing of context, more often than not it won’t work.

If you’re into Facebook…

…I got a Facebook author page.

You can check it out for older work I’m re-sharing, as well as some newer stuff eventually.

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. There’s stuff to come…

The Big Knockover

(A version of this essay appeared in my Scrapings, Etc newsletter)


So, I went to Greece. Cool, huh? I had some family to visit, so I left some worksheets for the sub for my class, the lady and I got someone to watch the cat, and we went for ten days.

While we were there, I went through my old stuff, things that my family had packed up from when I was a kid and when we lived there for a short while. Some of the stuff I found included the old comic books and novels I’d read summers, stuck there as a kid without any of the things that as a teenager, I wanted. No cable TV, no girlfriend, no air conditioning, no fast food…you get the idea.

So I read.

I read a lot. I read all the books my parents would let me buy or buy me as summer reading, I’d read old favorites I’d drag along with me, and I’d read the comics and the books I’d find in English (and sometimes in Greek too) for sale for cheap in the capital of the island I’d buy with beer and ice cream money. What I would also do is start going through my parents’ books, the stuff they’d have brought along or left behind there in this little old house out on an island in the Mediterranean. There was a ton of Tom Clancy books, there were a lot of John Grisham books, there was also Shibumi by “Trevanian” (which I’ve re-read a million times, more on this later possibly). There was also See You Later, Alligator, a spy novel about CIA agent Blackford Oakes by Willam F. Buckley, Jr. I don’t know why I latched onto this novel so much to re-read it ever year, every summer, without fail, to the point that I almost immediately fell upon it when we got there this year again automatically.

Buckley, a notorious neoconservative, the founder of the National Review, and all-around ugly person, was in a weird way, a major impact on my teenage years thanks to this book. A sort of “secret history” spy novel about a CIA mission negotiating with Che Guevara after the Bay of Pigs that is the REAL reason we discovered USSR missiles in Cuba, triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis, it’s not half bad if you take into account that Buckley was trying real hard to create a sort of American Smiley in Oakes, a pre-Jack Ryan “Cold War(rior)” just like Le Carre’s character. It sort of works, in a way, as the book isn’t very action-driven and relies very much on that whole “game of wits” aspect of espionage literature that Le Carre specialized in, highlighting some of the very real and very tedious ways that espionage actually worked during the Cold War.

That alone couldn’t have been the reasons that I clung to that book though, not as a 15-year-old Greek-American kid into punk and comics spending summer in a place where I sorta spoke the language and sorta knew people, desperate to get back “home.”

The book pits Buckley’s character Oakes alongside another CIA asset, a former KGB agent-turned-CIA operator Cecilio Velasco, against Che Guevara in post-Bay of Pigs Cuba. A significant point (to me) is that Oakes and Velasco sit for over a week in a sort of limbo at a surreal beach house setting, swimming and sitting and doing nothing, wondering why they’re summoned on this secret meeting to basically sit and do nothing. Oakes reads Agatha Christie novels in Spanish to teach himself the language, and Velasco smokes a lot, something that spies apparently did in the 70’s and 80’s by the shipping container. Things happen gradually (in particular that the whole negotiations are a front to distract the US from noticing the USSR bringing in nuclear missiles to Cuba and that it’s Oakes who alerts the US to it), but that limbo period of pre-action always stuck with me, year after year, re-read after re-read.

Part of it, I think, had to do with the isolation. The characters (Oakes in particular) feel constrained by the isolation, by the lack of distractions, and that when his own distractions run out or fail to calm his brain, he finds paltry little else to appease him. I guess now we can definitely see that it’s Buckley’s attempt to illustrate just how much better or culturally-better than the commies Oakes was, but reading about spies stuck at the beach in the oppressive heat with nothing but a limited collection of books and a limited understanding of the local language, to me, was this weird parallel with my own life at the time, stuck at the beach in oppressive heat with a limited cache of books to read, no TV, limited radio, and a limited understanding of the local language (I’m better at speaking Greek now, but I’ve been working hard to not lose it as a language the past few years…another story).

Buckley’s politics have never influenced me, even though his disdain for Communism and the obvious American Superiority Complex of his stand-in protagonist is super-obvious in hindsight. The book’s one real redeeming value of the story, an interesting type of Cold War spy story, isn’t even entirely due to the author, considering how much of it resolved around a real-life world crisis. Still, that weird way that he created not a story or characters, but a particular setting, one that had no real practical story purpose other than to create a setting for sociopolitical debates as well as a growing attitude and edge of psychological annoyance revealed to be (according to the character of Velasco) a deliberate attempt at subtle espionage as well as social engineering to gain some sad little bit of upper hand.

I can’t say that Buckley’s writing style ever influenced my own either, but I feel like that bit, the beach house for spies, always sticks out in my mind as the kind of spot, the kind of weird setting that of course is somewhere, of course happens, is something to aspire to as a writer. You want to create something so weirdly memorable, something obviously ridiculous but necessary in your fiction that it’s something people remember and going back to. They go back to it summer after summer, like clockwork.

The copy at this old family house is now yellowed, coverless, the title page slowly shredding into nothingness. The paperback spine is still there though, and most of the pages are still intact, not falling out and disintegrating. I thought about saving the book, bringing it back to New York with me, to preserve this weird artifact of my childhood and teen years.

I left it where I found it, instead, next to the touchtone phone on the little table in the hallway of that small stone summer house my grandfather watches over most of the time, for the next time I get back there.

Enjoy my short story “The Iron Space”

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, you got this early, but if not, it’s OK. This is just a little short story I wrote to scratch an itch recently, and extended and polished up when I was having work done in the apartment and  was just sitting here with no internet and only half the electricity working.

The story’s a little bit Poe, a little bit Lovecraft, a little bit all over, but I like how it came out, especially in terms of voice and sentence structure (if that makes sense).

Anyway, enjoy.

“The Iron Space” by Costa Koutsoutis

Continue reading

Kind of Hate, Kind of Monster


(This is pretty spoiler-heavy for a lot of more recent horror movies, so be forewarned)

My girlfriend and I watched The VVitch finally, a movie I’d been pumped for and got a lot of good hype.

The VVitch got a lot right about what works in scary. The idea of a slow creeping Satanic influence on a hypocritical and faith-challenged (a huge part of the story) Puritan family where so much of the story is tied into their day-to-day life creates not so much a sense of fear as a sense of depression, one punctured periodically by sharp but horrific moments that cement  It’s incredibly bleak, right down to the little things like the perpetually washed-out look of Puritan clothing, even the very landscape. Also, the score works brilliantly, building in almost uncomfortable ways to peak scary loudness while other times being nonexistent.

Interestingly enough, a movie that it reminds me of was Crimson Peak (which I really liked), another movie I really liked that ultimately, only really suffered from the three-pronged wrongness of bad marketing/audience expectations based on marketing/the current horror market. Crimson Peak was basically a classic gothic romance/horror movie, marketed as some sort of supernatural ghost story. From what I read, it definitely created a backlash against the movie because of the way that the movie was presented to a potential audience versus what the film, which is gorgeous and wonderful and spooky and very much in the vein of stuff I like, actually was.

In that way, The VVitch probably suffered from that false-but-necessary marketing that mars horror movies these days seeking an audience. People expected, I think, a traditional horror film, a traditional “Satanic possession” in the vein of The Exorcist, (which is excellent) or even more recent stuff like The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which I’ll admit to not having seen in a while).

Whose fault is that though? I mean, so much of modern horror is basically about ramped-up jumpscares, violence, gore, and panic moments, despite the rise of different horror that is definitely creating a niche for itself as smart and weird in a non-conventional way. The mainstream horror movie market is pretty much all about those shitty jumpscare moments, and if you want to sell a movie to those theaters, you kind of have to press with the scary bits, not the smart bits. There’s a reason a movie like It Follows, which was one of the legitimately-scariest horror movies I’ve seen in years, is such a little indie hit, because trying to pitch it as a horror movie to be taken seriously as opposed to the hokey joke that the twist (the demonic curse passed on like an STD) could easily be is hard. It probably was hard, which sucks, because like I said, It Follows scared me so intensely, being less about sex than about existential terror. What good is life if you’re constantly in an unknown fight to try to defend it, never knowing just how far ahead of that creeping death you are.

That kind of thesis in a movie isn’t easy to sell in a trailer. A scary movie is, in pop culture consciousness (partially a self-crafted niche), a good time, an easy fun time to get a quick adrenaline rush. The idea that a horror movie should be a movie to think about a concept that relates not to external scares but to internal fear and insecurity is a hard one to sell, which leads to this sort of “movie not what was advertised” situation, which can sort of suck. I understand when a film isn’t what you expected in a negative way, ruining a film experience.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that a genre like horror be allowed to breath, and that we try to not get so bogged down into a trap of the same old monsters, the same old horrors. Bringing different kinds of horrors, be they sex-transmitted demons, murderous & haunted incestuous twins, or the unspeakable terror of a new world and its natural evil, they can be just as shocking as possessing ghosts and serial killers and found-footage demons.

There’s also an element in The VVitch related to this in the movie Valhalla Rising, where the last 1/4 of the movie takes place in what’s presumed to be pre-colonial North America. Even before that in the movie though, we’re made intensely aware about how after all the axes and swords and blood-feuds and fanatics, the real enemy, the one we always fight and never defeat, is the earth around us. VR, a Viking-esque movie that’s not really action, horror, or psychodrama, reads largely about fate and acceptance as a singular spoke on a very large wheel. There’s even Christian fundamentalism here too like in The VVitch (in the form of early Crusaders hoping to somehow sail to the Holy Land), men who are, like the family of The VVitch, consumed by the futility of trying to fight against the earth, either killing each other or being killed by the First Nations people who live in this land that the characters refer to as Hell (implied to be North America).


That’s basically the root of the true horror of The VVitch, that their world is out to get them. It just so happens that evil, true Satanic evil is a part of that natural world. Weirdly enough, that sort of verifies The VVitch, which is so deeply rooted in Puritan fear and uncertainty. It’s not about jump scares, it’s about deeply-felt uncertainty not just about everyday life, but about everyday spiritual life, which was the daily fight against the influence of sin. The corruptions of witchcraft is ultimately secondary to just how shitty their lives are, and how much of it is this family’s fault through their (initially) unfailing radicalism.

Good horror is about the uncertainty of life. It’s about finally coming to an understanding that there are horrific things out there that can do so much, that have so much power over you, you’re no longer the top of the food chain. You are not the ultimate power compared to a good horror movie scare. You’re just a speck of dust, a girl praying furtively that she be good despite the rhetoric fed to her, despite the temptations to give in to laziness and selfishness, despite the lure of evil all around her.



(A version of this appeared in my “Scrapings, Etc” newsletter)

I’ve been in a cryptoid state of mind recently, especially concerning some of my personal favorites, the Dover Demon, the Jersey Devil, and Mothman. There’s something so weird about the implications of these beings, balanced against the dopey culture of those obsessed against them. In a way, cryptoid creatures are reminiscent of a faint sort of genetic memory we might have, a memory of an older era when we were constantly afraid of everything that was around us, because it could affect us in some way. It’s a reminder of our true place in the food chain. Sure, we’re a species with civilization and weapons and fire, but there are still beings out there that can trigger a reminder in us that we aren’t necessarily the alpha predators of the cycle of life we claim to be.

I know that cryptid and cryptozoology subculture can be serious stuff, but there’s also the “weirdo” elements of it that I enjoy, tied into these sort of circles of belief of things that are outside of the circles of learning. We can’t really learn much about them, because there isn’t a lot out there on them outside of weird information the we can’t either verify or expound on because it’s mostly nonsense.

At the same time though, there’s more here than just looking at weird stuff that crackpots post online or self-publish as pamphlets. There’s a sad elegance there, like it’s a look into an ancient world that isn’t there anymore, either dying out, or closing itself off.

Arthur Machen wrote and published “The Great God Pan”  (which you can read at the link) in 1890, though the slightly longer novella version was released in 1894. Despite being critically savaged as basically pornographic, it’s developed its place in the horror canon. HP Lovecraft loved it, and “The Dunwich Horror” is basically an extended homage to the story. Stephen King’s “N” is also a tribute to the story. Machen’s attachment to the supernatural and the idea of there being some level of “unseen” world is part of the reason, incidentally, that he’s credited with the idea of the “Angels of Mons,” a myth about a cadre of angels fighting alongside and protecting British soldiers at the Battle of Mons, a WW1 battle.

It’s basically about the horrific effects of a late-night experiment revolving around being aware of the supernatural world. The central focus, ultimately, of the story is about a young woman who ends up being more than she seems, and who is ultimately revealed to in fact, be partially supernatural. Furthermore, she’s supernatural to the point of being that kind of “alpha predator” that you’d associate with being a cryptoid-type being, something that we’d consider myth but knew enough of to fear.

There’s also a heavy element of taboo and unnatural sexuality to the story, with implications of non-Christian pagan magic powered by occult sex (“orgies” comes up in the story, to be precise, which always seem to be the root of any weirdo sex magic myth). Considering the story’s era of publication and the ideas of unnatural sexuality being seen as a the fearful “other” to ostracize, it makes sense. And really, fear is at the root of it, isn’t it? I mean, the reason that Lovecraft loved this story and then used it as an influence on his story, which is explicitly about the dangers of ancient and unknown knowledge. Machen’s implication here in the story is that older religions are in fact representations of actual existing things and beings, and that to be aware of them draws you into something shouldn’t be recognized as existing, not just because it’s dangerous, but because it’s a reminder of an era of history that we fought our way out of.

The title of the story is (spoiler alert, again) a reference to the Greek supernatural/mythological creature Pan, who encompasses several facets of life worshipped by the ancient Hellenics. We all know Pan as the satyr, an image that art has traditionally assigned to a character or person that represents pagan wanton sexuality. It didn’t come from there only, a lot of early Hellenic depictions of Pan (or satyrs in general) as being sexual demons (metaphorically). Hell, tons of Greek mythology is rooted in sex, sexual violence, and fear of sexual violence. It was seen (and still is, arguably) as a sign of savagery, of a lack of civilization and modernity.

Pan was the god (or demigod, depending on what you’ve read) of travelers (or maybe that’s his father, either the god Dionysus, or maybe the god Hermes?), the god of the woods (in particular, the uncharted parts of forests), and more importantly, the god of madness. His exact origins are unclear, either through being an older pre-Pantheonic Greek god, or either because a lack of interest has made any sort of documentation of him by ancient writers not the priority others like Zeus or Athena were.

Pan’s cry (or maybe it’s a blast from his musical instrument, the “pan pipes”) can cause madness among those who don’t respect him, causing people to run blindly into the woods until they either die from the shock, or come to their senses and slowly die of starvation deep in the forests, far from roads, crops, and home. The sight of him could drive men mad as well, as well, because he’s occasionally depicted as being not only half-animal, but also impossibly well-endowed sexually, another sign of his savagery. He’s got a penis like an animal, not a man (look into the historical reasons behind all those small dicks on classic statues for more on that one).

I read about Pan when I was a kid for the first time in The Lion in the Gateway by Mary Renault (my favorite telling of the Persian War) as well as an ancient old paperback collection of Greek mythology I’d inherited from my dad. In Renault’s book, she tells a version of the story of the Athenian Pheidippides, who incurred Pan’s favor by giving tribute during his run, inspiring the godling to fight against the invading Persians at the battle of Marathon. Again, depending on the translation of the story of Marathon you read, Pan (or sometimes, Pan alongside the ghost of Theseus, which is what Renault’s book claims) fights the Persians to rally the Athenians.

Pan’s role there is very clear. He is an ancient and semi-forgotten god, a bestial one that is implied to have been forgotten because he’s a representation of pre-civilization. Pan lives in the woods, where men no longer dwell. We’d moved on to the cities and the towns, and no longer feared the madness of being lost in the woods. In the same way, Machen uses Pan as a representation of that pre-civilization fear, of non-“enlightened” man. Pan is forgotten in all but name in the story, but is, in a way, brought back as a horrific power thanks to the ill-thought experiments that start off the story.

In a way, cryptid beasts are Pan, sort of. They’re a representation of a fear we used to have, and in a way they’re the last type of old gods we used to create to fill in voids in knowledge and understanding of the world. The Dover Demon or Bigfoot are the new “older” gods, forgotten things we used to worship and fear. Our lack of understanding of what they really are, which has faded for whatever reasons, causes us to create these stories and treat them as bizarre things we can’t understand, or that they’re aliens, or mutants, or whatever.

What if they’re like Pan? What if they’re something that has always been there and we were actively aware of, but over time, the horror of not being at the top of the food chain made us work hard to actively forget them? Lovecraft was drawn to this story because it tied in so deeply to his overall themes of the power of forbidden knowledge. His old gods, Ancient Ones, had influenced the world ages ago but had been forgotten for good reason. They were literal gods on Earth that caused madness to just look on them. “The Call of Cthulu” is literally about how men go mad gazing upon a hiding, slumbering god’s semi-submerged ziggurat and the behemoth inside, something lost to the Pacific millennia ago.

If we ever do find those cryptid beasts, will we go mad too? Are they like Pan, sucking and leeching our sanity from us with an inhuman scream? Are they from the non-Euclidian R’lyeh of Lovecraft? Or are we just going to take some more blurry photographs to post online?