While Cthulhu is one of the most well known and described creations of H.P. Lovecraft, very little is known of the “spawn of Cthulhu”. For this discussion the focus will be on the spawn of Cthulhu as a race of beings and not the entity called Cthulhu (which will be discussed in great detail later).
Ironically, the term “spawn of Cthulhu” is not mentioned in the Call of Cthulhu. In fact, the phrase, “spawn of Cthulhu” or “Cthulhu spawn” is used by HPL in only two of his formal / solo stories. The first time they are mentioned is in At the Mountains of Madness and the second time is in Through the Gates of the Silver Key (co-written by E. Hoffmann Price).
Spawn of Cthulhu illustration from S. Petersen’s Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters (Sandy Petersen, et.al., 1988)
Based on the scant bit of information we have on these entities, they resemble their Master, Leader or Parent(?) Cthulhu, which is a semi-bipedal being that looks like a combination of human, octopus and dragon. More importantly, similar to the Mi-Go, they are not made of the same matter as entities of our universe such as humans and Elder Ones. Thus, the spawn of Cthulhu are known to be from “outside” of our space-time reality.
The Spawn of Cthulhu from the “Real Ghostbusters” cartoon.
While both the Mi-Go and the spawn are from “outside” they appear to be as different from each other as they are from entities in our universe. The Mi-Go can easily manipulate the biochemistry and physiology of themselves, as well as other life forms, in an intense and aggressive form of directed evolution that included, but was certainly not limited to, surgery. Thus, the M-Go are masters at manipulating life from a genetic to an individual level, creating new species with specific attributes or abilities.
To me, this looks like a great drawing of a spawn of Cthulhu (drawing by the talented David Carson in James Van Hise’s The Fantastic Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft)
The spawn of Cthulhu did not appear to have the surgical abilities, or the biological interest for that matter, to alter either themselves of other creatures. However, in sharp contrast to the Mi-Go, the spawn of Cthulhu could manipulate their size and shape at will. Like Cthulhu himself, the spawn were described as being a fluid or viscous-like creature.
If you think about it, this is very similar to an octopus. These intelligent mollusks have been well documented to be able to easily fit through small openings a fraction of their size. The octopus has the ability to easily modify its shape and can also appear to change its size as well. In addition, an octopus moves in a very fluid manner, as if it was oozing. Thus, the spawn, as well as Cthulhu himself, not only have some attributes of octopuses, but also probably move like these creatures. Additional evidence of this can be found in The Call of Cthulhu, where the movements of Cthulhu are described as “flopped down the slimy stones” and “slid greasily into the water”. These passages make one think of an octopus moving from the deck of a boat and plopping into the water.
An octopus moving out of plastic cube through a small opening (www.youtube.com)
Next time, we will discuss in more detail how being made of different matter make the spawn of Cthulhu very different from us and the Elder Ones. Thank you – Fred