The Making of Signum Advenit

11412017_10152903439650009_2449291035897046338_o

The design for “Signum Advenit” sketched onto the block.

As you may already know from my most recent post, I’m in the process of creating a new edition specifically for the Kickstarter campaign supporting the 20th annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. This print is inspired by this year’s festival theme—Expedition to R’lyeh—based on the concept of Miskatonic University professors Henry Armitage and William Dyer journeying to the South Pacific in search of the enigmatic island.

Those of you acquainted with Lovecraft mythos will recognize Henry Armitage as the librarian who first appeared in The Dunwich Horror. In this short story, a frighteningly disfigured social pariah named Wilbur Whateley harbors an unearthly presence in his home. Over the years it grows and grows until it fills the entire house, killing Wilbur’s mother, grandfather, and a number of cows in the process. Desperate to rid himself of the ghastly entity, Wilbur travels to Miskatonic University to obtain a copy of the Necronomicon, seeking instructions for summoning the Great Old One Yog-Sothoth. There he encounters university librarian Dr. Henry Armitage, who refuses to lend him the book.

Likewise, geology professor William Dyer makes his first appearance in The Mountain of Madness, in which he leads a catastrophic expedition to Antarctica. Later, in The Shadow Out of Time, he accompanies an expedition to Australia’s Great Sandy Desert. (Given how horror has a way of finding him wherever he goes, one wonders whether Dyer is really the best choice of a traveling companion.)

11659476_10152904256770009_770260148725399156_n

A detail of the flaming key/comet mid-carving.

This year’s H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival theme is based on the idea of Armitage and Dyer joining forces and mounting an expedition to Lovecraft’s famous island of R’lyeh. With documents pulled straight from the Miskatonic University library archives they’ve calculated the date of the island’s next sighting, and participants in this year’s festival have the opportunity to experience the excitement firsthand through our Kickstarter exclusives. These rewards include an expedition log book, a map of R’lyeh, a box of artifacts, and more. For just this occasion, I’ve designed an original hand-pulled woodcut print based on the sort of imagery one might find in the Miskatonic University rare book rooms. The finished piece, Signum Advenit, is an example of the type of illustration Armitage and Dyer would have used to calculate their journey to the lost city of R’lyeh.

In this woodcut, we see a seated figure with a book at her feet burning incense in an upturned human skull: an offering to those whose return she seeks. The figure, though apparently human from the waist up, has a mermaid-like tail evocative of the siren: a denizen of the deep notorious for luring unsuspecting fishermen to a watery death. (Indeed, a shipwreck can be seen vanishing into the waves behind her.) In the background we see R’lyeh depicted as a walled medieval city, a staple of the 15th-century woodcuts on which this piece is based. Above, a comet containing a key descends from the sky while a cosmic eye keeps watch. This is the sign that “the stars are right” to raise R’lyeh from the sea. Attentive observers will notice that the sky contains twenty stars, a nod to the 20th anniversary of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Another process photo.

Another process photo.

While the Kickstarter campaign has already been fully funded, it isn’t too late to get your hands on one of these limited edition commemorative prints. Contributing toward stretch goals at the Cryptic Design, VIP Yog-Sothoth, Traveler from Beyond the Stars, and All Access levels and above will entitle backers to a rewards package including an original hand-pulled print of their very own. You also have the option of adding Signum Advenit to your rewards at any level for an additional $70.

Finally, if you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Signum Advenit, check out this video to see its very first inking!

9e0d3748c5514e7be6e60ae9e532f29d_original