Monday, December 31, 2012

He Saw It: Manga Artist and Hiroshima Survivor Keiji Nakazawa

This past month we lost a notable comic book artist: Keiji Nakazawa, a Hiroshima survivor who used his comics to bear witness to his personal experience of war and of the atomic bomb.

He was born in 1939 in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. He was 7 years old on August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. He happened to be standing next to a concrete wall when the bomb went off, which shielded him from the blast, while a man who was talking to him burned to death. His father and most of his family perished when their home collapsed.

His family suffered from poverty and hunger during the post-war years; his baby sister died after only a few weeks. Nakazawa made a career for himself as a manga artist and moved to Tokyo, but even there he found that Hiroshima survivors were discriminated against. People feared contact with the survivors as in a later generation people would fear touching a person with AIDS, as if radiation exposure was somehow contagious.

So Nakazawa kept his experiences to himself, until his mother died in 1966. She was cremated, as was customary, but when Keiji sifted through her ashes hoping to find a piece of bone to keep to remember her, he found nothing. The radiation exposure which had ruined her health and killed her at an early age had eaten away at her bones to the point where after the cremation there was nothing left. His anger and frustration drove him to put his experiences down the only way he knew how: in comic form.

His first attempt at dramatizing his experiences was a manga titled Kuroi Ame ni Utarete ("Struck by Black Rain"), fictional story about five survivors involved in the black market in the ruins of post-war Hiroshima. He had difficulty selling this story, though, because the publishers felt it was too dark.
In 1972, the editors at Weekly Shonen Jump, one of the major manga magazines, asked several of it's artists to create autobiographical stories for a special issue. Nakazawa's story was titled Ore Wa Mita ("I Saw It"), and told how he and his mother survived the bombing of Hiroshima and how he ultimately became a manga artist. His editor encouraged him to expand the story, and the following year Nakazawa began Hadashi no Gen ("Barefoot Gen"), a fictionalized version of his experiences.

Barefoot Gen is a powerful work about the horrific toll of war on people. Nakazawa's drawing style is cartoony, influenced by Osamu Tezuka, and often goofy, which makes the graphic depictions of the bomb's aftermath all the more shocking, as when Gen encounters people whose skin seems to be melting off their bodies, or a girl with shards of glass embedded in her face, or his own family trapped in the burning rubble of a demolished house, as Nakazawa's family was, helpless to save them as they burn to death.

But Gen is a plucky and resourceful lad, determined to make a better life for his family, even in the ruins of war. Despite the atomic horror of radioactive death and the bitter struggle against society in collapse, the story of Gen is at its core a hopeful one. Nakazawa's purpose in writing it was to teach a new generation about the horror and reality of atomic war.
“I want Gen to become a source of the new generation’s strength with the strength to say no to oppose nuclear weapons, stepping on the scorched earth in Hiroshima with his bare feet and feeling the firm ground on his feet.”
Both I Saw It and Barefoot Gen have been published in English. Barefoot Gen has been adapted into two animated films and a live-action TV series.

Keiji Nakazawa died on December 19, 2012 of lung cancer at the age of 73

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A notorious comic book personality

RICHARD OLNEY passes away.

I understand that it is bad form to speak ill of the recent dead.   So I will leave his death be viewed as what it is, a human passing from the planet.

But in the comic world almost no one over the last 10 years who visited comic book message boards would not have heard or saw or participated in the fights and arguments and debates caused by this man.

I had my own experiences which I will keep to myself, other than to say he caused much frustration in my life, and I've forgiven him for it. 

But here is a fellow owing many people and the small community of comics rose up to be outraged and tried to stop him from screwing and thus owing money to anyone else.   He will be remembered for this, but there are many many many more shysters in comics than Richard Olney, and many are far worse.

The point? 

Well I think comics are too small for most people to care much about, but the creative community in  the comic book world is filled with stories of creators being robbed, with friends betraying one another, and with publishers absolutely screwing over people.

I have signed contracts with four publishers of comics in my life.  Only one fulfilled its obligations, and has been above board and moral.

VIPER COMICS is the only one.

Support moral companies.
Support creators directly.
Boycott shysters.

And again,

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Marksmen from Image/Benaroya

Marksmen Tpb
Publisher: Image/Benaroya
Writer: Dave Baxter
Artist: Javier Aranda & Garry Leach

From the publisher
“Sixty years ago the oil ran out and debts were called in. Civil war followed that splintered America into warring fiefdoms. New San Diego is a technocratic utopia that offers the last bastion of peace and prosperity, provided you live within its walls. Drake McCoy is its best protector. One of a select group of Marksmen, descended from the Navy Seals, McCoy defends the city from the numerous threats in the wasteland outside the walls. But when the oil rich Lone Star State sends a powerful army to steal New San Diego's energy technology, even the Marksmen's skill may not be enough to fend off the siege.”

If you want an action movie that has some big themes this one has more brewing than I had expected.   The setting is familiar, a post apocalyptic event leaves the world with city states who are in battle for resources.   But the consequences of this story are, on some level, able to show the factions at war in society today.   We see perfectionist utopians versus religionist isolationists fighting for dominance and resources.   However, while we are allowed to see the events through the eyes of New San Diego Marksmen, the results are more gray than black and white.

I wouldn’t say, though, that this is a subtly nuanced story.   There are many questions unasked that should be asked, and many questions left to be answered that are not.   But the dialogue is good, the scenes realistic enough, and there are human emotions on display.   The writing is good on the surface, and only really fades when some of the complexities of such a conflict are shown to fall somewhat flat.   It isn’t easy showing all sides of a question, or asking a question such as does military might, or political will replace moral responsibility and thereby action?   The Marksmen are faced with many threats, and while the questions of the story are large, the action generally takes us on a path we can identify and perhaps predict.   It wasn’t bad, nor poorly done, simply, not a thoroughly complex action story.

I am left feeling that this was certainly good enough.  The art was competent and told the story well.  The writing was good, and it made me think.   While I can’t say the  story made me a great fan, and left me wanting more, I can say that I felt satisfied by the reading, and that is a good feeling.


Publisher: Zenescope
Writer: Jeffrey Kaufman
Art: Marco Turini

We all know about secret agents, spies and assassins.  Whoever they work for, MI-6, CIA, or U.N.C.L.E., the need for action is always there, and the heroic Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt, or James Bond will come to the fore, be heroic and fulfill the job requirement.

The twist here is that Jacob Mars is a CIA agent and assassin who loses that kind of job.   He is a man who has grown accustomed to the life of a spy, with women, and money, and action.   So he is forced to become a freelancer.   However one might perceive the title of the graphic novel to be in regards to any of the women we see, if by glimpse instead of a full character, the whore is Jacob Mars.   As such his actions, of killing, screwing, screwing for payment, killing, scre... oh sorry, ...  are one of a male whore.  

I don’t think the character Jacob Mars will be anyone’s favorite, he has none of the class of the previously mentioned characters, nor do we see him in his best light.   We are privy to the life of a male whore, and it isn’t a pretty picture to view.

So now you are likely thinking, well, is it good?   I guess it has something to do with your tolerance for the subject.   I don’t think many people watching a porno would want or be interested in a discussion of Intelligent Design versus Evolution.  This isn't a story about a noble hero, or gallant knight rushing to the rescue of anyone.   I’d suggest that what is going on here is a story about a person we aren’t able to like, and some people aren’t able to enjoy that.  

OK so, what if you like Anti-Hero characters?   Well then you might like this.   It isn’t something I liked, but I could see the humor, being sexist and kind of nasty working for people.  I could see the sexy scenes (not sex scenes as it would be a borderline R/PG-13) being arousing to someone, if they were looking for that.

But while I think that it is a matter of taste which will likely guide you, there are other things to consider.   The art wasn’t at all bad but at the same time it looked quite a bit like hot babes without emotions with a guy who is gruff and mean with no other emotions.   The technical skill seems there, without fulfilling the story's need for such emotions.   The writing is good enough I think for an action movie with somewhat hot chicks.   So if you are interested in a B movie, with a naughty subtext and sleazy story about a male whore, catch this book.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End? Of the World as we know it?

And I feel fine.


Are utzijoxik wa‘e
k‘a katz‘ininoq,
k‘a kachamamoq,
k‘a kasilanik,
k‘a kalolinik,
katolona puch upa kaj.

Yes we wait. When Kukulkan returns, the serpent reaches the earth, the days will end, and the world begin anew.

Uh yeah.

So I am supposed to worry about the end of the world, according to some people who have read ancient books and calendars and found that the Mayan calendar ends December 21, 2012.

Well let me tell you something.  I don't care.   Nope.  My mom died this year.  My car was lost in an accident.  People went through hurricane Sandy.   People in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq and Israel and Gaza and Libya and shit.... everywhere have seen horrible things.   If the earth is to come to an end I say bravo, bring it on.

First I might find Ancient Aliens on History channel to be well done, and interesting, but I don't actually buy it.

This isn't to say some of it couldn't be true, or that it isn't my thing.   I just think that while there is much we don't know, and much that we know that is likely wrong, filling in the blanks doesn't actually get you very far either.

However Erich von Daniken for me was the best of the writers of the stuff... whatever you wish to think about it, or him.

We've been entertained by the Mayan culture otherwise too.

In movies with Apocalyptico

In comics by Jack Kirby, the ancient astronauts and aliens are looked at.

The comics medium looks at the end of the world too

So if it is the end, bravo.
If it isn't the end, oh well.

Find something to read, or watch, or listen to, and enjoy.



~ App Debuts at Number 4 in the App Store Charts for iPhone Free Book Apps ~

NEW YORK, NY— December 20, 2012  – Just in time for the holiday season, Liquid Comics launched the new “Liquid Comics” app today for the iPhone and iPad. The app quicklyliquid rose to number 4 in the App Store charts under iPhone free book apps. The app is available now for download at: 

The app is loaded with free comics and videos from leading creators from both comics and Hollywood including Guy Ritchie, John Woo, Barry Sonnenfeld, Shekhar Kapur, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Andy Diggle, Marc Guggenheim, Mukesh Singh, Jeevan J. Kang and more.

The app will also be the first place to receive updates on new projects coming soon from Liquid, including “Coming of Rageby legendary creator Wes Craven (Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street) and horror scribe, Steve Niles (30 Days of Night).
Liquid Comics aims to be a home for great creators across film, television and comics to collaborate together on new ideas and bring them to audiences through the visual medium of graphic novels and interactive entertainment,” commented Sharad Devarajan, Liquid Comics Co-Founder & CEO. “The Liquid Comics app for the iPhone and iPad allows us to share these creators stories with potentially millions of people through one of the most compelling visual devices ever created.”
The app is a free application that is loaded with free content and additional content that can be purchased when users sign up for an account. Current comic books offered in the Liquid app include: 

John Woo’s “7 Brothers,” - from John Woo (Mission Impossible 2, Face-Off) and comic book creators, Garth Ennis and Jeevan Kang. Seven Brothers tells the story of how six hundred years ago mighty Chinese treasure fleets set sail to reach every continent. Now in modern day Los Angeles, an ancient prophecy must be fulfilled and seven men with nothing in common but their destinies must face the Son of Hell to save the world. 

Barry Sonnenfeld's “Dinosaurs vs. Aliens” - from by Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black trilogy), and comic book creators, Grant Morrison and Mukesh Singh.  The story for Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens is based on a secret world war battle that was never recorded in our history books. When an alien invasion attacks Earth in the age of the dinosaurs, our planet’s only saviors are the savage prehistoric beasts which are much more intelligent than humanity has ever imagined. 

Guy Ritchie's “Gamekeeper- from Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Lock, Stock,…) and comic book creators, Andy Diggle and Mukesh Singh. Gamekeeper is a tale of epic espionage.  Brock is a reclusive, enigmatic, groundsman who lives a quiet existence, until mercenaries invade it and destroy any remnants of his life he has left.  Now, set on a path of vengeance, it becomes difficult to tell who has more power, the man, or the animal within.
Shekhar Kapur’s “Snakewoman, created by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, Four Feathers) and comic book creators Zeb Wells and Michael Gaydos. Jessica Peterson is learning first-hand that the cycle of revenge cannot be broken. Without understanding why, she finds herself turning into a creature - a vicious Snakewoman. Her mission - to avenge a centuries old wrong that was conceived half a world away. Jessica must confront the monster that lurks inside her before it is too late.

Marc Guggenheim’s “Nowhere Man, created by Marc Guggenheim (Executive Producer of the hit television series, “Arrow”), What if you could have the world of your dreams...and all it cost you was every thought you ever had. A futuristic thriller set in a world where the government monitors everything - including your most private thoughts.
New releases in the app will include previously published Liquid titles such as “The Megasfrom Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3; Surrogates); “Dead Soldierfrom filmmakers John Moore (A Good Day to Die Hard; Max Payne); “Voodoo Childby Weston Cage, Nicolas Cage and Mike Carey; “Dock Walloperby actor and filmmaker, Ed Burns and Jimmy Palmiotti.

The app is available now for download at: 

For more information please contact:
Liquid Comics is a digital entertainment company focused on creating cinematic and mythic graphic novel stories with filmmakers, creators and storytellers. The company was founded by entrepreneurs, Sharad Devarajan, Gotham Chopra and Suresh Seetharaman and uses the medium of digital graphic novel publishing to develop properties for theatrical live-action films, animation and video games. Liquid has created and is creating original graphic novels with acclaimed filmmakers and talents including John Woo, Guy Ritchie, Grant Morrison, Shekhar Kapur, Deepak Chopra, Dave Stewart, Marc Guggenheim, Marcus Nispel, Jonathan Mostow, Edward Burns, Nicolas Cage, John Moore, Wes Craven, Barry Sonnenfeld and others. The Company currently has a number of film and television projects in development based on their properties.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Yar! Look Kids! Comics about Pirates!

I get asked a lot by people who think that the world of comics is all super heroes...  What might they read that isn't spandex and super powers but still adventure?

They seem surprised when I suggest they check out comics about pirates. Admittedly some are from the past, but still you can find them in the back issue bins, and comic book conventions and of course ebay.

Not every comic is for every reader, not every comic is for all ages.   I am not recommending these for every reader, I am just suggesting that you might enjoy them if you are interested in pirates.

(Some images are shrunk to fit the column and writing, please click on each image to see the covers in all of their glory)

Rawbone by comic writer Jamie Delano (from publisher Avatar) is probably my favorite of those I will briefly mention here, although it is likely to be far too dark and deviant for some.   It involves lesbian lovers, beasts from the sea, and bestial violence and lust that only a wicked mind like Delano's could provide.  Artist Max Fiumara does a considerably good job bringing Jamie's madness to life.   Please heed the warning, this is not for kids or people who are sensitive to vulgar and violent stories.  On the other hand if you dig those things, there it is.

Dead Men Tell No Tales from Arcana was a bit of a harsh ride.  The art is not consistent, and the story jumps around a bit, but it is dark, and delicious in ways pirates should be.   While uneven in quality, I liked it.   The writing by Dwight MacPherson combined with the Ben Templesmith cover art makes the book more than ok.

El Cazador from CrossGen was a fine adventure tale of a woman pirate captain and a very rough crew.    Chuck Dixon wrote this as an action tale, and Steve Epting's art was brilliant.   This was a most excellent book, with quality work all around.   Sadly the story didn't run to completion, but who knows, maybe no one's story runs to a complete finite end.

In the age of comics between the Golden age and the revival of the super heroes in the Silver age wild adventures and dark fantasies were offered in comic story by EC.   Long since gone, the EC comics presented here PIRACY were then reprinted by Gemstone recently.  The back issues of either run are possibly found in the places mentioned above, but expect the EC comics to be quite pricey.   The Piracy comics weren't as pretty as say El Cazador, or well written as Rawbone, but they were young, wild and full of energy.  Despite being accused of being too violent for children and such, these are mostly still PG at worst.

What happens when a pirate crew are infected with vampirism?   They turn the oceans into a Sea of Red.   Rick Remender, Keiron Dwyer, Salgood Sam and Paul Harmon take this hybrid creation from the past to the near present, and follow the lives and wild reaches of a crew who were dead but didn't know to die.  I am a fan of this work, but am kind of reluctant to compare it to the other stories, it is just not straight forward enough as a pirate tale to be measured as such.   Instead I like it for the dark, bloody fantasy it presents.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

H.P. Lovecraft Part 6: At the Mountains of Madness (conclusion)

Last week we began a look at one of H.P. Lovecraft's most ambitious works: his short novel At the Mountains of Madness. Professor Dyer, a geologist from Miskatonic University and the narrator of the story, is leading an expedition to the Antarctic continent. The party's chief biologist, Professor Lake, has taken part of the group on a side-trip to a hitherto unexplored region and discovered a mountain range higher than any on earth. They have also found several specimens of strange plant-like creatures with starfish-shaped heads. A severe storm cuts off Lake's party from radio contact with the rest of the expedition, and when Dyer comes to investigate, he finds the entire party wiped out.

In examining the wreckage and the dead, Dyer's party find that some of the dead bodies have not just been injured by flying wreckage or frozen by exposure; they've been sliced open. Lovecraft does not use the word dissected, but that is evidently what has happened. They also find that the six damaged specimens have been buried in the snow underneath star-shaped mounds, like the soapstone pieces, and a lot of strange triangular footprints in the snow. The eight intact specimens of the star-headed creatures, are missing; so are three of the sleds, one of the sled dogs, and an odd assortment of supplies. Gedney, one of Lake's party, is also missing. The inference is inescapable. Lake's party must have gone mad.

Right? Isn't that what you were thinking? No? Maybe you've watched too many monster movies.

Dyer decides to attempt a flight across the mountain range. Because the range is so high, he will be unable to take the plane fully-loaded, so he brings only Danforth, one of the expedition's unpaid interns, with him to pilot the plane and what equipment they think absolutely necessary. As they approach the mountains, like Lake's survey before them, Dyer notes the peculiar outcroppings of rock on some of the mountain slopes. Dyer, the geologist, is reminded of the "Giant's Causeway", a natural rock formation in Ireland, but also of the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. Higher up, they encounter a misty haze, which Lake had earlier mistakenly guessed was smoke from volcanic activity.

Threading their way through the impossibly high mountains, they navigate the lowest pass they can find, and on the other side of the mountains they find something truly startling: A vast ruined city, stretching across a wide plateau. Dyer realizes that this is the same city they saw in the mirage which appeared when they first approached the mountains. The image of the city had been reflected off a layer of ice particles in the upper atmosphere; a common enough phenomenon in the polar regions. Flying over the city, Dyer is struck by the recurring star-shaped motif in the buildings and plazas of the labyrinthine city.

They land their plane and begin exploring some of the buildings. They find several chambers with elaborate carvings and from these carvings they are able to piece together a history of the city's inhabitants. The carvings confirm what the reader has already guessed; that the city was built by the strange star-headed creatures whom Lake had dubbed the "Elder Ones" after creatures mentioned in the Necronomicon.

This part I find to stretch my willing suspension of disbelief a bit, that they could reconstruct a detailed history of the Old Ones after studying some decorative art for a few hours; but Danforth has read the Necronomicon from cover to cover and the images they find confirm the stories in that tome. Everyone who goes to Miskatonic University seems to have some sort of familiarity with the Necronomicon; I suspect that they make fraternity pledges read a page as part of their initiation hazing.

The Old Ones began building this city eons ago, when life as we know it was just beginning to crawl out of the slime. In fact, earlier Lake had suggested the possibility that the Old Ones had actually created life on Earth as "a jest or a mistake." For hundreds of millions of years, they ruled the planet as geological ages passed and the continents shifted. Lovecraft cites Wegner's Continental Drift Hypothesis, which at the time was regarded as highly speculative. The Old Ones built most of their cities underwater, with the aid of artificial creations called Shuggoths: amorphous blobs capable of changing form to whatever shape was necessary and of obeying the Old Ones' hypnotic commands; but built other colonies on land, such as the ancient city in the Antarctic mountains.

Over the Strange Eons, the Old Ones found their dominion of the earth challenged by other beings from Other Worlds; the Mi-Go, the Spawn of Cthulhu and the Fungi from Yuggoth. Here Lovecraft is tying the star-headed Old Ones to other Cosmic Horrors from previous tales, as August Derleth later did with his "Cthulhu Mythos." But as S.T. Joshi points out, he is also de-mythologizing the Mythos. Where previous stories called these Cosmic Entities "Elder Gods", this one makes clear that these are aliens mistakenly worshiped as gods by our primitive ancestors. One gets the impression that Lovecraft was a little embarrassed by the 'men of science' chanting spells of exorcism in "The Dunwich Horror". There is no magic in "At the Mountains of Madness".

The Mi-Go retreated to the peaks of the Himalayas; the Fungi from Yuggoth flew back to Pluto and Great Cthulhu's domains sank beneath the waves. The Old Ones remained, although diminished in power. They had lost their ability to fly through space on their membranous wings; their art showed a decline in sophistication. They had to put down an uprising by their Shuggoth slaves, who had evolved enough intelligence to revolt. As the continents shifted and the climate began to change, the now-decadent Old Ones built a new city near the old near the great abyss where they had first colonized the Earth. Eventually, the land became so cold, they had to abandon the old city completely. Something else also happened; something so terrible, that the carvings only hinted at it; someting terrible and deadly which the artists of that long-dead city refused to portray.

In this history of the Decline and Fall of the Star-Head Empire, I suspect Lovecraft is writing a parable about the America he knew. Certainly in his view American culture and the arts had degenerated since the 19th Century. More suggestive still are the Suggoths, an underclass which performed all the heavy labor for the Old Ones and who eventually rebelled. The theme of Working Class rising up to bring down Society was a common one in the early 20th Century. Lovecraft had a strong streak of xenophobia in him. Although the influence of his circle of friends in the Wide World outside of Providence helped soften his views, his sojourn in New York as a penniless writer competing for jobs with a flood of immigrant workers to a certain extent reinforced his prejudices.

Dyer and Danforth decide to continue their exploration of the City to the Abyss, shown in the carvings, where the later City of the Old Ones was built. The idea of a kind of Abyss near the Pole is another one that goes back to the 19th Century. In the early 1800s, a US Army captain named John Cleves Symmes, Jr. proposed a theory that the Earth was hollow, and contained several concentric shells which could be reached by large holes at the North and South Poles. He lectured widely on his theory and unsuccesfully lobbied President Andrew Jackson to send an expedition to the polar regions to find it. Edgar Allan Poe's story "MS. Found in a Bottle" ends with its protagonist sucked down into such a polar abyss, and Poe used some of Symmes' theories in his novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, which Lovecraft alludes to in "Mountains of Madness".

Making their way through the labyrinthine passageways under the City, Dyer and Danforth encounter some of the weirder creatures to ever appear in a Lovecraft story, and these are completely mundane: flocks of six-foot tall albino penguins. Living as they do underground, they have evolved to be sightless as well as flightless and have no eyes. Although he does not explicitly say so, I suspect these are meant to evoke the mysterious white shrouded figure which appears at the end of Arthur Gordon Pym. The penguins are harmless, but majorly creepy.

Creepier still is what the two find next: the tracks of the sleds missing from the Parks camp, and the lingering odor that the specimens had. Following the tracks they find the sleds themselves and a kind of camp. And in the sleds they find Gedney and the missing sled dog; both dead, but both carefully wrapped up, just like specimens.

Lovecraft has been coy about directly stating what really happened at Lake's camp, but by now it's pretty clear. The star-headed specimens Lake found were not really dead; or at least not all of them were. Under the warmth of the Antarctic sun, they revived. The dogs, maddened by their unnatural scent, attacked the creatures and lead to the horrific slaughter of the camp. After which, the creatures collected specimens of their own and gear from the camp and proceeded to the City themselves. Dyer guesses that these specimens came from an earlier era, and so the City as it is now will be almost as strange to them as it is to its human explorers. He and Danforth find, in this rude camp, sketchbooks taken from Lake's camp which the Old Ones have added drawings of their own in a peculiar style reminiscent of the carvings Dyer has seen.

Following the trail of the Old Ones through the darkness, the unpleasant smell becomes mingled with another odor, even more vile. Then they come across the bodies of four Old Ones, their starfish heads brutally decapitated and covered with slime.
They had not been even savages -- for what indeed had they done? That awful awakening in the cold of an unknown epoch -- perhaps an attack by the furry, frantically barking quadrupeds, and a dazed defense against them and the equally frantic white simians with the queer wrappings and paraphernalia ... poor Lake, poor Gedney ... and poor Old Ones! Scientists to the last -- what had they done that we would not have done in their place? ... Radiates, vegetables, monstrosities, star-spawn -- whatever they had been, they were men!
Lovecraft has written disparagingly in letters about science fiction writers who give their aliens human attitudes and motivations; but here he succeeds in making grotesques abominations sympathetic as his narrator slowly comes to recognize the same attitudes and motivations he has.When they first find the bodies, Danforth gives an involuntary scream. Now, as they examine them, Dyer and Danforth hear an answering noise in the blackness beyond, a piping noise, sounding something like "Tekeli-li!" the cry of the gigantic bird-creatures from Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym. Dyer guesses that it's one of the group of Old Ones who has murdered its companions. He and Danforth begin to run.

They dash headlong in a blind panic, retracing their path. Coming to the large chamber where they encountered the penguins, they are fortunate in that the mists of the cavern and the large flock confuse their pursuer and it continues down the wrong corridor. But the two men look back and see that Dyer had been wrong. Their pursuer had not been a starfish-headed Old One, but a huge amoeba-like creature, with a multitude of eyes floating on it's formless body. It was a Shuggoth, one of the former slaves of the Old Ones, which had once again revolted against its masters -- this time successfully. The Old Ones were now all truly dead, and only their mindless slaves dwelt in their haunted city.

The two men proceed to the surface. Danforth is near hysterical, babbling the names of the Boston subway train stations as they dash through the tunnels. When they get back to their plane, Dyer takes the controls. Danforth is the more skillful pilot, but his nerves are too shot to fly.

Guiding their way back through the high mountain pass, Dyer is too busy concentrating to look back behind them as Danforth does, and so he does not see what Danforth sees.

What does Danforth see? A bigger, even more terrifying Shuggoth? The mysterious black sphinx Poe wrote of in Arthur Gordon Pym? A mirage like the one they saw before, only this time showing what lies beyond the City? The Abyss of the Old Ones itself?

Those are some of my guesses. Dyer has his own, but will not speak of them. Danforth will not speak of it at all, except in delirium.
He has on rare occasions whispered disjointed and irresponsible things about "the black pit", "the cavern rim", "the proto-shoggoths:, "the windowless solids with five dimensions", "the nameless cylinders" "the elder pharos", "Yog-Sothogh", "the primal white jelly", "the colour our of space", "the wings"...
But when he actually saw it... whatever it was he saw... he only shrieked one word, over and over:"Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"