Lovecraft, Jellyfish, and A Night Before…


H.P. Lovecraft helped me discover who made the jellyfish cards. Or rather, it was because a link with a Lovecraft mention along with jellyfish caught my eye, and that led me to John Holbo’s site and to answers and truth and demystification and the boring humdrum reality that the cards weren’t real.

But! I also found that John originally made them as part of a Christmas parody he wrote/designed called Mama In Her Kerchief and I in My Madness: A Visit of Sog-Nug-Hotep: A Truly Awful Christmas Volume. For a time, it had been available online, but John let it slide over time. And that’s a shame, because, dude:

During the Victorian era Christmas was indeed regarded as a “happy” day, but one of uncanny terror. Accordingly, cards and ornamentation featured strange creatures with too many tentacles. Then ‘Santa Claus’ became popular, and many older designs fell out of fashion. The present volume presents research on Ernst Haeckel’s work on holiday ‘Kunstformen der Un-Natur’; such Ur-figures as ‘Soggy Ned’; and the 1852 disappearance of noted greeting card designer and ‘cthuligrapher’, Albert Whedge-Wheskit.

Lovecraft’s Old Ones and Santa? Now that’s something I’d get behind and spend tons of cash on.

But we can now rejoice in fully holiday glee! Since I bugged him about the cards and he found out that a lot of folk online thought they were real, he generously decided to make it available again. (And to battle fake news. The struggle is real.)

I just bought it. And if you like weird, beautiful things, you should, too. There’s a paperback version ($9.99) and a Kindle version ($2.99).

Also, go visit his blog which is full of other wonderful things, especially if you like a cross of philosophy, DA FUNNY, the weird, and design.


Jellyfish Debunked!


Oh, fickle faith…

I finally talked to the guy who made the jellyfish cards, John Holbo. They are not, as I had really really really wanted to believe, authentic. The jellyfish themselves truly are by Victorian biologist and illustrator Ernst Haeckel, but Holbo ‘shopped them together.

Here are the two places I’ve seen that present them as authentic, but both are incorrect (and, honestly, the io9 piece could very well just be very, very understatedly tongue-in-cheek).

Holbo was tickled that some people out there (like me) wanted to think they were real. But some weirdness is too good to be true. You can see all the ones he made at his Flickr site here:

He’s got some great design work in his other albums as well, and it’s a fascinating collection to browse.

So let’s shed a tear for authenticity but lift a cup of egg nog for some great images! Thanks, John.

UPDATE: Holbo is re-releasing the original parody these were made for.

(And thanks to @goddamnshinyrock for finally making me do the 3 minutes of research I could have done years ago to follow up on these, and to @obscuracurios for bringing them up this year.)