Saudi Childhood memories: Top 80s and 90s Cartoons

One of the most reminiscent parts of my childhood was sitting on the floor in front of the TV screen watching cartoons. Some of these cartoons stick with you for a long long time, and for better or worse, mostly worse, they somewhat shaped our minds. Some had a good message, some had a good tale and some were just outright CRAZY! – Looking at your TMNT –

old arabic cartoons list

In the list below, I take a look back at the good, the fun and the crazy of arabic cartoons 90s that were nothing less than cultural hits in Saudi Arabia:


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10. Dinosaur War Izenborg 1977 – 1987 (الرجل الحديدي)

Mixing suitmation (Japanese term for suited actor portraying giant monsters) with animation to produce a show that houses two of the most fascinated themes in cartoon fantasy, Giant Robots fighting giant monsters; the greatest idea since ketchup and mayonnaise.


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9. Plawres Sanshiro 1982 – 1985 (سانشيرو)

What’s cooler than a robot? A robot wearing a karate GI, enough said.

maxresdefault8. Astro ganger cartoon 1972 – 1973 (غزاة من الفضاء – جونكر)

For some reason, Jongar cartoon was the super-giant-robot show that resonated with me as a child; it could be the fact that Jongar, unlike other super-giant-robot shows is actually a sentient being. An alien women crash lands on earth and falls in love with a scientist; she gives birth to a kid before she dies and gives him a pendent with the power to summon Jongar to fight the invading evil aliens.

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7. Sarutobi Sasuke 1979 – 1980 (مغامرات ساسوكي)

Another Ninja with monkey-like reflexes and great Ninjutsu abilities, Sasuke fights to stop the civil war. I still feel disturbed from the closet with the eyes.

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6. Miracle Giants Dome-kun 1989 – 1990 (نصف بطل)

Nisf Batal became a hit in Saudi Arabia, despite the subject being Baseball, a sport that has no grounds in our country, but it gained popularity with its great story and relatable characters.

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5. Batman 1992 – 1995 (الرجل الوطواط)

Batman wasn’t always the dark gritty caped crusader he is today. In Batman the animated series, you see the stories start to take a bit more mature take on the classic stories from the comics.

read also :These Cartoonists Are Awesome!

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4. Igano Kabamaru 1982 – 1983 (ننجا ننجا)

You can’t watch Ninja Kabamaro without rooting for him, the protagonist is an orphan kid raised by his grandfather in the countryside while learning the art of being a Ninja. Kabamaro is a naïve lovable character with a great appetite; every time you see him eat it makes you wanna pig-out on your next meal. SHAWAMAN!

gttt3. The Mysterious City of Gold (الأحلام الذهبية) 1982 – 1983

The explorer’s heart in me was kindled with The Mysterious City of Gold; just the opening narration is enough to get you knee deep with eagerness for the reveal of the mystery.

“It is the 16th century. From all over Europe, great ships sail west to conquer the New World, the Americas. The men, eager to seek their fortune, to find new adventures in new lands. They long to cross uncharted seas and discover unknown countries, to find secret gold on a mountain trail high in the Andes. They dream of following the path of the setting sun that leads to El Dorado and the Mysterious Cities of Gold.”

weee2. Captain Tsubasa 1983 – 1986 (الكابتن ماجد)

If you don’t know Captain Majid you must have lived under a rock. Captain Majid was a great hit cartoon in Saudi Arabia as it was based around football, but it also has a great story to tell with many great characters.

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tur1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 – 1996 (سلاحف الننجا)

Is there anything crazier than a Teenage mutant ninja turtle that lives in the sewers of New York and fights crime? Yes! A TMNT that is being tutored by a rat and fights a gang called the “foot clan” with a Japanese leader that wears armor with metal shreds on it. TMNT was a cultural explosion that started from comics to cartoon, movies, toys, videogames and endless other mediums and products.

It was great for me to revisit all the greatness I list above from my childhood, but it was also difficult to keep this list with only ten entries, so here are the honorable mentions:

Honorable mentions:

11. Grendizer

12. Mazinger

13. Tom and Jerry

14. Lony toons

15. The Peanuts

16. Once Upon a Time… Life (Kan Ya Makan…Al Haya)

17. Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli (Mawkle Fata Al Adghal)

18. Smurfs (Al Sanafer)

19. Sinbad (Moghamrat Sindibad)

20. The Adventures of Hutch the Honeybee (Moghamrat Nahool)


Games That Will Scare The Crap Out Of You

One of my most favored genres, regardless of medium, is the Horror genre. The first memory with horror that I can recall was with the original “Evil Dead”, It scared the crap out of me and haunted me for months. Later on, I put my big-boy pants on and returned to the genre. I started with movies, shows, books and of course Video Games.

My first really Horror game experience was while my older brother playing Resident Evil one on the original Playstation. He wouldn’t let me play that game in particular. So of course that spiked my interest in the game. So one day I sneaked into his room, put on the disk and pushed the Power button.

So here are my most favored horror games of all time, with no particular order:

Resident Evil


After I pushed the power button and the game started, I played for a bit till I got to the first Zombie (Back in the day Zombies were one of the most horrific concepts in the genre). The first Zombie was introduced with perfect presentation. The image is imprinted in my memory to this day.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth


The Cthulhu mythos all in all had a huge impact on me, whether it’s from the macabre atmosphere or its protagonist insane driven narratives. Bethesda captured both themes in Dark Corners of the Earth, taking narrative queues from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “Shadow over Innsmouth”.



It may be considered a demo or a “Playable teaser”, but what Konami had accomplished with this short experience was unlike any other in the genre with its creepy atmosphere, terrifying encounters and difficult puzzles.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent


I’ve always said, with limitation comes innovation, and the developers of Amnesia had difficulties with the adding a robust combat system during the development which resulted in the very innovative enemy AI that defines the game and set it aside from other games in the genre.

Eternal Darkness


One of the hidden gems of the horror genre was on the GameCube with its mind twisting gameplay elements and Cthulhu mythos narrative setting.



Rockstart (The creators of Grand Theft Auto) are well known with their controversial games. And in Manhunt they flip the table on the usual horror game formula by putting you in the shoes of a killer on death row getting a chance to escape execution and killing his way through a city infested of killers.

Dark Souls

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Horror in games can be tackled from many aspects, and in Dark Souls FromSoft will make you soil your pants from the atmosphere, the difficulty and the outstanding enemy and level design.

Silent Hill


Silent Hill has always been a personal favorite series of mine. As much as I enjoyed playing B rated movie renditions like Resident Evil, nothing beats the lingering and uneasy feeling one gets from playing Silent Hill. I believe the reason Silent Hill is a very different and loved series is because the terror is not directly at your face such as the zombies from Resident Evil where there is not much room for fear when you have extinguished that tangible source, but rather with Silent Hill, one has multiple layers on top of each other to ponder and fear for and from the main character. The characters are having inner struggles with themselves and the town reshapes into their worst nightmare which is thought-provoking, subtle and horrific in many ways. The only way silent hill could be a b rated movie is due to the bad dialogue in it.


Xbox One and PlayStation Owners May Finally Play Together

Microsoft announce cross-network play

MS announced the new feature for Xbox one owners; the cross-network play will allow players to play with PC players as well as PS4. Of course this feature cannot be implemented with the PS4 without Sony’s agreement. In response Sony officially by stating:

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“PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play.”

This will definitely serve both parties, as well as the gaming industry, as we will see some games that lacked population gaining more players.

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PlayStation VR (virtual reality)

We have seen many companies growing interest in VR after the Oculus Rift was announced and followed by Facebook buying the company. Now, Sony announced their own VR headset, and recently announced that it will be released in the coming October 2016 and will cost around $399, making it a much cheaper option than the competition; with Oculus being $599 and to be released by the end of March. On the other hand, the HTC Vive holds the highest price of $ 799 and is to be released in the coming April.

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Division successful beta and release

Ubisoft seem to have made its new hit game; The Division, started with the most successful beta making it the most played on current generation for a new IP. The beta was followed with record breaking sales, making it the fastest selling new IP in the company’s history.

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Quantum Break no longer Xbox one exclusive

Microsoft announces that their exclusive game “Quantum Break” will be coming also to windows 10. Many speculate that more exclusive titles will follow, marking MS’s new strategy in bridging Windows 10 and Xbox one.

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Microsoft terminates Lionhead studios

Lots of strategic changes seem to be happening these days in Microsoft, as they announced that the 20 year old development house, Lionhead (Creators of the Fable series), are being closed down, by owners Microsoft. The news came coupled with the cancellation of their underdevelopment game Fable legends.


Habibi: The Story Of Dodola And Zam Bought To Life With Arabic Calligraphy.

Using the art of Arabic calligraphy, Arabian folklore and religious stories as tools to drive its narrative, Habibi tells the story of a girl sold into marriage and a boy born into slavery. Habibi follows the two lives of Dodola and Zam; starting from their childhood and the struggles that follows. The story tackles many mature themes such as slavery, underage marriage, rape, abortion and self-condemnation.

Calligraphy is used tremendously throughout the book as a storytelling medium; as a description of a theme, as an analogy or even as a background design. Everywhere it was used, it was used in a clever way that both advanced the narrative or added to the beautiful art; Thomson would take a word like Habibi and describe every letter in the word and how every letter and its shape signify a characteristic that adds to the word as a whole.


The book never outright says where it takes place, but the themes and settings are in the Orientalist era, but at times the story takes place in modern-day locations where a modern city is erected with a Burger King or a KFC is around. I found that a bit bothersome; I saw no need for the narrative to pass to the modern-day times especially in such an awkward style.


Habibi is grand epic of 675 pages, but it never felt slow with its terrific pacing. Almost each chapter runs in parallel, to a point, to a story from religion or Arabian folklore. Thompson shows how excellent his research was in quoting both the religious texts, as well as showing the differences in how the story took place in different religious texts.

The main characters, Dodola and Zam are written with a beautiful amount of depth; you will see both growing up and how their states of mind change with coming of age, or in their experiences from the cruel world as they pass through it. Dodola starts off with her father selling her into marriage to a much older man. Dodola’s character progresses alongside the many trials and tribulations of the cruel world that surround her. Zam, born into slavery as his mother gave up on saving him; she choose death for him as a mercy in place of life of a dark-skinned man in slavery. Dodola claims Zam as her own child to save his life and their journey to survival together begins.


Their relationship grows more complex as they come of age: they see each other as parents, siblings, husband and wife till they realize they are all they got.

In closing, Habibi is a tale about two people and their journey in a cruel, relentless world, and how such cruelty can affect people, but it’s also about how the two deal with their struggles and overcome them to find solace.


Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, A Glimpse Into The Dark Tower

Most people recognize Stephen King for his immense library of literary works in the horror genre, but King himself recognizes The Dark Tower series as his Magnum opus. The Dark Tower is fantasy series that’s a mix between Lord of the Rings books and The Good the bad and the ugly film.

The book opens with a paragraph that serves as terrific plot summary; the whole narrative follows the, Gunslinger Roland Deschain and his first step on the long journey to the Dark Tower. In the Gunslinger the plot runs in two time periods: present and past. In the present we follow Roland and his pursuit of the man in black.

On the other hand, in the past we follow Roland in his youth. We see glimpses of what shaped the Gunslinger of the present. I’ve never been a fan of flashbacks; it almost always feels like a diversion from the main plot. Mostly the arc felt slow and I just wanted to get through it to get to the main arc, which in comparison was moving on a much faster paced with more exciting events and characters. Still, the look to Roland’s past was needed and the conclusion of it makes it worthwhile.

The world of the Dark Tower was conceived to fit many themes and ideas from various genres into one grand narrative; in the long series King goes into fantasy themes, sci-fi and even real life struggles, so the long journey never fails in surprises and variety.


Stephen King wrote The Gunslinger around the beginning of his career, and compared to his later work you can see how much he evolved as a storyteller. Still, the book may not be great on its own, but it’s a great start of a long engrossing journey.

In closing, the Gunslinger is a good start into a great series. In this book King establish his world and a couple of characters, but this is only the tip of the iceberg of a long, entertaining and one of kind journey.



Comic Book Review: WE3

Humanity is in a never-ending ever-evolving arms race; we started with sticks and stones and fast-forward we were hit with the atom bomb. Grant Morrison explores a different direction in the evolution of arms; what if we could weaponize pet animals.


WE3 follows the story of a dog, cat and a rabbit. After much experimentation, a research facility was able to not only weaponize the three animals, but to also give them primitive speech skills to communicate with each other, as well as humans. The project was presented to a government army official for approval, with the three animals as a prototype. The program was rejected and the prototypes were to be “decommissioned”.WE3 is a short book, so don’t expect a very deep and explorative narrative, but still Grant Morrison is a great writer, and within the short tale he had me to caring for the three animals and how their journey would end.


Most of the story talks about how animalistic some men became and how the real animals are trying to survive such evil; in trying to escape from them. Another part is how the three’s relationship works; they were designed as a squad so there is a lot of interesting interactions between them; the dog, as man’s best friend, feels reluctant to leave the humans or attack them, on the other hand the cat (as they think usually that they are our masters) is opposed to the idea of going back and not shy of attacking her attackers.

Moreover about the writing, big part of the story; it is told with the minimalistic amount of dialogue, giving the art a lot to make up for with action and expressive character art.

The art is not Frank Quitely’s best work; there is nothing wrong with the art, in particular, other than, at times, the backgrounds feel a bit empty. I usually dislike the Quitely’s style especially with that style of coloring, which is also used in All-Star Superman. Still, the action sequences are drawn very well and the exoskeleton armor design is terrific. The last point I’ll make about the art, or the presentation: is the arrangement (how the panels are arranged) I found them terrible at some parts; as it hides the art in some panels, rather than showing it in an organized or stylistic style.


In closing, WE3 is a short story, at times I wished they stretched it a bit more into a series; as there is a huge potential for further exploration. Still, by the end I like how short and contained it was. It left me satisfied, but it’s not a book I would remember in years to come.


Top Comic books to get you into Comics

Comics have been a great storytelling medium for a long time, but unfortunately it has been overlooked by many and viewed as childish or (pun intended) comical. Many efforts have been taken to shift that idea, from writers with books that have more mature and diverse content like Will Eisner, Alan Moore and Frank Miller and many others.

In the list below, I will try to give my recommendations to those interested in the medium and guide them into an easy enjoyable journey to the world of comic books:

For starters, I will give you something short and sweet and with one of the most loved comic book characters of all time, Batman:

Batman: Year One
A bit of a mature take on the Batman universe, which definitely had an influence on the Batman we know today. Year One is a story of how Bruce Wayne started his life as the caped crusader and Jim Gordon’s start in the police force. The narrative grounds the Batman world into reality by giving reason to every gadget and adding layers to every character.

If you like what you got from Batman, but still want to know more about the world and its characters, there is no better introduction than:

Batman: The Long Halloween
One of the best aspects of the Batman universe isn’t the Bat himself, but the diverse roster of crazy and fascinating villains. The Long Halloween is told with excellent art and outstanding writing that hold till today as one of the best Batman stories, involving most of his longtime adversaries.

Now to get you even deeper into the world of Batman, specifically into the mind of his craziest villain; the joker, you must read:

Batman: The Killing Joke
Have you ever thought ‘I wonder how The joker thinks?’ or ‘I wonder how the Joker became what he is?’ In less than 50 Pages, Alan Moore takes you through the psyche of the prince of crime and shows us how he became the sadistic lunatic of a criminal we know him as. The story is told with unequivocal master craftsmanship that almost makes you relate to the joker.

The horrors of war in history were told through many mediums and cartoonists told their experiences just as well, if not better through the art of Graphic Novels:

Written as a memoir, depicting the Jews as mice and the Germans as cats, cartoonist Art Spiegelman tells the story of his father and mother surviving the horrors of the holocaust and how they still try to survive after the war ended. Don’t let the initial impression deceive you; the content is as mature as it gets, showing the unspeakable horrors of the wars and how their rippling effects through generations.

Cartoonist and reporter, Joe Sacco reports his journey through Palestine as he interviews people from both sides and from all layers of society. Joe Sacco illustrates his accounts in comic form, while leaving out his own thoughts and biases to give the reader a clear image to form his own opinion.

Whither it’s movies, books, music or comics, there are always those movie or albums that changed or evolved the whole medium. To give you two examples of comics that highly influenced and evolved the industry:

Changing how we perceived Superheroes, as well as the medium itself. Watchmen was one of the leading books to change the image and name from Comic to Graphic Novel. The book is regarded by many, as a great piece of literature and held as the subject of case studies with its complex narrative and deep characters.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Batman certainly had many reincarnations over the years. DKR didn’t only redefine the caped crusader, but also the comic book industry. For more about the book, you can read my review.

Recently comic books are being adapted into movies and TV shows right left and center, and mostly when it comes to adaptations the source material is almost always better:

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead comic series story line is somewhat similar to the TV show with some differences here and there, but the most notable difference is how the comic is much bolder in its writing.

If the superhero genre isn’t your cup of tea, comics offer way more than Superman and Batman and you can dive in many genres with excellent stories such as:

Criminal series
One of the most engaging graphic novels to get into as it easily breaks the general consensus of comics being a superhero-centric medium. Despite its audience being limited to a mature audience, Criminal proves itself in every page in terms of quality over quantity. It is revolutionary in terms of storytelling, either through panel construction or in the blending of colors that fuse both the characters and environment into one; making a comic that breathes life with every panel.
Criminal series
V for Vendetta
Alan Moore’s version of the Orwellian nightmare tells the story of what if Britain’s fascist rose to power, filing concentration camps with the opposition. The story follows an anarchist named V and his attempts in bringing down the fascist party. At times, the excellent writing put the reader under the skin and mind of fascists.

Regardless of genre, comics have many many great stories that I can safely recommend:

Garth Ennis tells the story of a preacher who lost his faith in Americana. The comic is filled with great unforgettable characters and writing.
One of the most creative and in-your-face writings, with great sleek art that screams personality. Saga tells a story of a couple from opposite sides of a war and their subsequent journey to escape the war. Brian K. Vaughan takes no pauses with a plot that never slows down nor does it ever fail to surprise.
All-Star Superman
The man of steel never had a greater adversary; Grant Morrison humanizes Superman by pitting him against his own mortality. We go through a journey with the man of steel as he comes to terms with his own demise as he prepares to say his last goodbyes.

The comic book medium holds a wide range of diverse stories, it’s unfortunate that it’s subsided by many. The list above is just a small taste of what you should expect from the medium; once you’re familiar with it you’ll find a sea of enjoyment.


Mobile Game Review: Crossy Road

Crossy road is one of the best examples to come to mind, on how to do a sweet and simple mobile game. Taking its idea from the classic game Frogger, in Crossy Road you help a chicken cross its way through a heavily trafficked street. Crossy Road builds on the simple mechanic by making the game endless.

The controls, as it always should be in mobile games, are very simple: tap to move forward, swipe to move right or left. The difficulty comes from the cars; different cars move in different speeds making it harder to pass through the street. The game is also populated with more obstacles such as: train, trailers and rivers that you have to cross by jumping your way through.2

The art direction in Crossy Road takes after its mechanics; simple yet beautiful. Everything is constructed of blocks; the green trees, the mountains, the building and even the characters. The art really shines through with the great use of colors and lighting. There are many thematically different levels to play; you’ll play in the green tree filled streets, or in the red mountains desert or even the Pac-Man theme level.

The game is mostly free but there are characters that you can acquire only by purchase. Other characters can be acquired via in-game coins; which you pick up from the ground as you play.3

In closing, Crossy Road is one of those simple thirty second burst mobile games. The game is fun, competitive and very well made.


Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the year 2044, the dystopian nightmare is shaping to be our new reality and virtual reality becomes more than mere entertainment or escapism; it becomes a prominent facet of human lives; people work, attend school, play games, watch movies and meet each other, all in the OASIS.

The story opens with the death of the OASIS’s creator. He leaves the total of his inheritance, which was in billions, as a prize for a contest he made inside the virtual reality. The billionaire grew up during the 80s and was fascinated with videogames, films and anything nerdy you can think of. So, the contest he made requires great knowledge in everything 80s and 90s nerd pop-culture.

The world was taken by the contest and the golden age was trending again; kids challenged each other in intricate nerd Nintendo trivia and John Huges films and having such knowledge was something to boast about.

Widespread famine, poverty, and disease. Half a dozen wars. You know: “dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!”Ernest Cline

At the beginning of the book I felt that the writer was riding too much on nostalgia; using countless number of Videogames and films that felt, at times, like cheap tools to get the reader into the story or into liking a character. I stuck with the story and the references became more than just riding nostalgia, but also clever tools that drive the narrative. Moreover, the writer’s knowledge and research in the subject is something to behold; details like who won a contest in the year 1980 something, why the contest was cancelled, what the prizes were…are all pretty much nerd underground details.

Inside were long rows of blue teleportation booths. Their shape and color always reminded me of Doctor Who’s TARDIS.Ernest Cline

The weakest point of the book was the writing, I felt that it lacked exposition mostly; some locations lacked detailed description and done only with a reference to being similar to a place in a Videogame.

The protagonist’s character development was, to some extent, sorted behind the scenes; we get to know the factors that changed his personality, but you almost never get the process; he would change dramatically without mention. This issue became more noticeable since the book is written as a memoir.

Most of the other characters lack originality, but mostly work for the majority of readers to see themselves in their shoes; most will see themselves in Parzival, a girlfriend in Art3mis and a best friend in Aech.

The world in RPO is very well imagined; how the OASIS works and how it impacted society on a social as well as an economic level is all very well imagined and implemented in the narrative.

In closing, RPO is a tale about growing up, finding love and standing up in the face of evil; a very much young-adult subjects. Still, the journey is filled with great comical, dramatic, romantic and adventurous moments that gave me the experience of an eighties’ summer blockbuster that can entertain both millennials as well as the 80s and 90s kids.


Origins of Pop-culture Monsters: Cthulhu

Cthulhu, pronounced Kah-THEWW-loo; is one of the most obscure, yet influential, creatures in fictional horror literature.

Most wouldn’t even recognize the creature by look or name, but you’ll most likely recognize a creature similar to him from a TV show, movie or a video game.

Created by the American writer, Howard Philips Lovecraft in 1926, and debuted in his short story “The Call of Cthulhu”. The giant being, was featured in many of Lovecraft’s later work, building its character bit by bit through his short stories.


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The name on its own gives a brief idea behind the creature and the genre it helped create; the writer made it so that it sounded foreign to every dialect  giving it an eerie sound, fitting to the genre he defined; “Weird Horror”.

“Lovecraftian Horror” or “Weird Horror” can be recognized as a subgenre of horror fiction, and if I were to define it, Cthulhu would be the embodiment of the subgenre. The Lovecraftian style of horror didn’t depend solely on gorish themes, but also on exploring the sense of eerie and eldritch fear of the unknown.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – HPL, Supernatural horror and literature essay.

The basic physical description he bears: the face of an octopus, body of man and the ineffectual wings of a dragon; standing, great Cthulhu strikes fear from hundreds of meters high.


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The idea of the monstrosity resonated with many people, not just for the physical attributes but more for the eerie atmosphere that surrounds the being. In each story, we receive bits of information that maintain the overall enigmatic image. In most stories, the creature sleeps far in the depths of the sea, yet his consciousness reaches far and beyond, touching the minds of humans to be their object of obsession. If sought out, the mere sight of him can drive men to madness.

“In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” – HPL, The Call of Cthulhu.

Lovecraft wasn’t a popular writer in his time, his popularity reached heights only in recent years, after his death, with the help of his writer friends; “Cthulhu Mythos” a term coined by his friend, August William Derleth. The idea of Cthulhu Mythos, was to further expand the world and creatures created by Lovecraft. Many writers joined August to celebrate the work of their friend and helped in the expansion of the world that Lovecraft created; the practice took a life of its own and was carried out. Till today, many fans as well as established writers, such as Stephen King, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and many others, keep the torch burning; seeking great Cthulhu.