Lovecraft Sketch MWF: Richard Upton Pickman #2

Lovecraft Sketch MWF: Richard Upton Pickman #2

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.)

Discussion (7)¬

  1. Esn says:

    Wonderful, this is how I imagined him looking.

  2. Hing Hong Donky Dong says:

    I showed my gf. she said “Whys he holding a baguette?” so i spat at her shoe and she decked my in the dick!!

  3. Night-Gaunt says:

    Their name in Arabic I think is “gul” and prey on those unfortunate to prowl the desert wastes. The same ones that King Solomon cursed Lilith to wander as the first vampire-ghoul. The Japanese also have ghouls only they have gravid bellies and little hair with sharp teeth and claws. Perpetually starving.

  4. Night-Gaunt says:

    It was my impression that that boy he painted from the 1600’s was him. He was a changeling but he managed to keep from fully changing till the 1920’s when the “mephitic vapors” from the black grave yard mold on their bodies started the change.

  5. The name in Arabic is “GHUL”. In “The Tale of Prince Sayf al-Muluk” (Richard Burton translation), a passage reads “He snatched up the Mameluke who had kicked him and carried hum off into the middle of the island, and behold, it was all full of Ghuls who eat the sons of Adam. The man cried out to his fellows, ‘Save yourselves, for this is the island of the man-eating Ghuls, and they mean to tear me to bits and devour me.'” They haunt desert wastes and certain islands, preying on those who go through them. Lillith, Solomon, etc.

  6. Jason says:

    Thanks for the Ghul info! I’ve got to really read some of these Ghul stories. I did once have a book of Palestinian fairytales, “Speak, Bird, Speak Again” that had some stories relating to ghouls and went into a few editorial digressions about what exactly they were and what superstitions were associated with them…

  7. No problem. The Ghuls in “Sayf al-Muluk” only appear briefly, but its an intriguing cameo.