“They were not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; but something I cannot and must not recall.” August Derleth later named them the Byakhee, and the name stuck for the roleplaying game, but what exactly are these monstrous steeds of undead wizards that appear in the story The Festival? It’s hard to picture a creature which both burrows and flies. Bats are flying creatures that live in caves, and surely there must be deep, deep spaces in the underworld where they can flap their wings; but I assume they must also know how to crawl.
The description of these creatures is so rich and yet vague (like that of the lizards in “The Nameless City”) that I love drawing them. As usual when I draw winged things, I felt a little like I’d taken the easy way out when I gave them bat wings coming from their shoulders, instead of maintaining some kind of terrestrial vertebrate four-limbed body plan. But they are described as being like ants, too, so maybe their six-limbed structure is part of that. At any rate, they have something of the human corpse about them, so perhaps they are artificial creatures made from elements of other beings, and abnormality and irregularity is just part of their Frankensteinian nature. The fact that they might be part human, or formerly human, gives the mind much more leeway to imagine them, and the horrible process by which they are made, or (should they be natural) by which their species itself was formed, like Dream-Quest’s “web-footed wamps which are spawned in dead cities.”
I like the story “The Festival,” although I can’t think of it the same way since realizing that the unspeakable entities are all basically gathered to celebrate around an evil Christmas tree.
I’m working on my next Lovecraft comic, “The Doom That Came to Sarnath”, but I’m also still taking sketch commissions! Plus, it’s Friday, so that means a new King of RPGs! And lastly, if you’re coming to Emerald City Comic-Con in Seattle this weekend, I’ll be at booth P-18, so please stop by and say hello!