Today’s sketch is again of Richard Pickman, title character of Pickman’s Model. He looks a bit more human than he does in “Dream-Quest,” by which point he’s completely transformed into a ghoul, but hopefully he still looks sufficiently creepy.
I’ve never read The Arabian Nights, but thinking about Lovecraft’s ghouls recently has got me interested in the original Arabian ghouls. I need to do more research, but here’s the results of my small amount of gleaning. Like most folkloric creatures, they aren’t really supposed to have any ‘species’ or any naturalistic/scientific basis, instead they’re more like fairies and goblins and demons; they can change shape, they are associated with the power of fire, and so on. However, they do eat people, and lurk in the dark, and apparently it’s said that they have long, tearing claws. I wonder if they have any relation to grues? Could there be different types of ghouls, and the New World Ghoul is actually a separate species or sub-species from the West Asian/Middle Eastern Ghoul? Were their mystic powers lost upon migration to the New World?
(Incidentally, in the early 20th century I believe the term ‘ghoul’ was synonymous with ‘cannibal’, judging from the many EC Comics of the ’50s where the word ‘ghoul’ is used in this way without any further explanation being deemed necessary. The punchline of one old Tales from the Crypt was “We’re not vampires… we’re GHOULS!” Ba-dump-bump. Even George Romero called his flesh-eating zombies ‘ghouls’ at first.)