Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Nemesis Blade

It's been some time since we last heard from the talented Mr. Able. I was beginning to worry that he'd fallen prey to an experiment gone wrong, so you can imagine my relief when a message arrived in my mailbox.

"Mr. Able has recently released into the care of a trusted colleague a very curious and dangerous weapon known as a "Nemesis Blade". The knife shown in the photographs was created by the infamous occultist/scientist Anton Evisser."

The unassuming exterior of the Nemesis Blade storage box.

Given the Slovak origin of the blade I believe this is a regional spelling.

The blade revealed.

The handle appears to be bone (human?), and the markings on the blade look similar to the Widmanstätten patterns found in iron meteorites. I can only guess at the function of the mechanism in the guard.

Another view of the entire blade.

A closer look at the mechanism in the guard.

A clockwork power source? Or something driven by more esoteric energies?

The note from Mr. Able that accompanied the artifact.

Given the destructive potential described above one can hope the blade's powers are in the service of good.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Ephemera

The first post on Alex Kaeda's new blog features some classic era anxiety medication- smokes and a matchbook from Arkham Sanitarium. The mysterious fires of 1921, 1927, 1934, and 1937 are now more understandable.

The very talented "anniv111701" sent over links to a selection of Sanitarium business cards available on Google Docs here and here. Interactive versions that allow you to customize the entries are in the works.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Update

This will hopefully be the final week of the Arkham Sanitarium project.

Everything is done and in hand except for the patches and lapel pins. The final patch sample was approved last week and that run is currently in production. If the final pin sample shows up today, as it's scheduled to do, the run of lapel pins should be in my hands on Friday or Saturday.

Again, I apologize for the delay based on my original, overly optimistic production schedule. As several people have pointed out, it's always a good idea to automatically double the production time quoted to you by a manufacturer.

The Fell Types

Kurt Hockenbury sent over a link to this amazing set of six open source fonts based on the Fell Types released by Igino Marini. If you're not a typography geek you're no doubt asking why this is of note. Here's the answer:

From mid-16th century until the end of the 17th, interference with printing by the British Crown thwarted the development of type founding in England—most type used by 17th century English printers was of Dutch origin. The lack of material inspired Bishop of Oxford Doctor John Fell to purchase punches & matrices from Holland ca. 1670–1672 for use by the Oxford University Press. The so-named Fell types, presumed to be the work of Dutch punchcutter Dirck Voskens, mark a noticeable jump from previous designs, with considerably shorter extenders, higher stroke contrast, narrowing of round letters, and flattened serifs on the baseline and descenders.

From a prop standpoint these are cool for two reasons. One, they look perfect for reproducing all manner of realistic grimoires and Mythos texts. Two, they're tied to a particular time and, to a lesser extent, place. That's a real boon if you're looking for an "air of verisimilitude", as Lovecraft himself would put it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Worm Shall Turn

My love of nasty worm-things is no secret. After seeing this video I immediately ordered some 5mm rare earth magnets, because the squirming worm effect is so disturbing. Like all great magic tricks the technique is simple (multiple magnets glued to an irregular cam), but has a myriad of possible uses.

Update: As of 9/29 the video has been set to "Private". I haven't a clue why the creator of the worm project didn't want people watching it.

Update: As of 10/1 a new version of the video is available.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dragon Scale

Erik Oerlemans brings us this bit of unnatural history- a dragon scale. The prop was constructed of textured air drying clay over a styrene pattern. I have a soft spot for props like this, no Smaug joke intended, because the Temeraire series is one of my guilty pleasures.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Patient File Folder

I fiddled around with a couple of different takes on the Arkham Sanitarium patient file folders. This is the straight version. I'll apologize ahead of time for both the wiggy photography and my terrible handwriting. I had to kludge together a copy stand for the shots and didn't feel like bothering my significant other for her penmanship services. Click through on the pictures to see the high resolution versions.

One feature of the folders I like is that they're essentially timeless- pick a Mythos era, from classic to modern, and they'll fit right in. Full tab filing folders have been around since vertical filing replaced the cubbyhole system of the 19th century.

Here we have the details of the unfortunate Mr. DeVost's case. Between the admission form and his sketch it shouldn't take investigators too long to figure out just what the "devil" is.

The pasted on patient name is a matter of simple expediency that, conveniently, is historically acceptable. I wanted everything produced inside Arkham Sanitarium to look like it came from identical models of typewriter, so the tab uses the same "Chunk Type" freeware font used in the PDF's. You can download it from John Bruce's font site over here.

The metal document clip is something I added, but I think I'm going to include one with every folder because it's so handy and official looking.

The sketch actually consumed the most time of any facet of the file. I intentionally patterned it after some of the pictures drawn of the infamous "Mothman" and it took a few tries to get the right look. To the average person it's just an imaginary monster haunting the mind of a crazy man, but to someone familiar with the Mythos...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Collectors

While I've always assumed the Mythos prop collecting community was intellectually gifted, only recently has it been brought to my attention just how devilishly handsome many of it's members are. Here's Dr. Christian Lehmann displaying some of his amazing collection of "Beyond the Mountains of Madness" artifacts and antiques:

You can see more of his treasure trove at his album on Yog-Sothoth.

And here's my good friend Alban before his departure for the Great Sandy Desert in Australia:

Someone really needs to do a calender featuring investigators fighting the forces of the Mythos.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Props

It's frustrating to be so close to having everything done on this project. The folders, notebook, and postcards are in hand, all ready to go.

Forgive me for sounding like my own fanboy, but the file folders are absolutely awesome. I'm going to do a mockup of a patient file tonight and should have some pictures tomorrow.


I finished copying everything that had been stored on Scribd over to Google Documents early this morning. The complete list of files is in the "Great Migration" post from last week. All the remnant material at Scribd will be cleared out this weekend.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Bill For Services

Today we have another prop document for the Arkham Sanitarium project, this time a bill for services. While the earlier paper props were the kind of thing that would be included in a patient file, this would be more appropriate as something discovered in household papers or a lawyer's client file.

You can download the PDF from Google Docs over here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Update

I was planning on spending this morning posting off 60+ mailers filled with Lovecraftian goodness.

Sadly, that's not the case. My original two week long production schedule for the Arkham Sanitarium project was a bit too optimistic, and for that I apologize. At this point the production of the patches and pins is holding things up. I should have the revised embroidery for the patch today, and I'll hopefully have the production sample for the lapel pins. Everything else is done, and I already have the postcards in hand. Both the notebooks and file folders should arrive today.

If there aren't any problems with today's approvals (knock on wood) we're probably looking at a revised ship date of October 1st.

Again, I apologize for the delay.

Update: The newest production sample for the patch is in and it's golden. The color mismatch between the text and inner shield fill has been resolved, and the missing drop shadows behind the torch and key have been fixed. One step closer, my friends, one step closer.

Cthulhu Talisman

Vonmeer brings us this cast pewter Cthulhu talisman . The rough, time-worn appearance was the result of a bad pour, but I agree wtih the creator that it actually looks better than a fully formed piece.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vintage Shotgun Ad

From 1926, a vintage ad for mail order shotguns. This kind of thing makes great filler for faux newspaper and magazine clippings, as well as being a handy price check for the favorite weapon of "Call of Cthulhu" investigators. Impale damage for the win!

Just click through for the high resolution version.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quick Update

The removal of all my content from Scribd should be finished by the end of next week, and possibly as early as tomorrow. At this point everything up to the start of the Arkham Sanitarium project has been moved to Google Docs. A full list of the files involved is in the "Great Migration" post over here.

I did upload one final document, just to be snarky. Feel free to "readcast". 'Cause, you know, "reading just got more social". Heh.

Propnomicon Scribd Takedown

Elder Signs

Artist Lacy Jae brings us these cast metal Elder Signs. I featured her earlier iteration of the Lovecraft Elder Sign back in May. She's added the Derleth/Chaosium design, and it appears the casting and finishing process has been refined to make the final result look even better.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Great Migration

After yesterday's revelation that Scribd was charging for access to the material at their site I was a bit taken aback. Everything uploaded there was clearly designated as freely available, non-commercial content. Despite that, they were charging "subscription" fees for material that had been "archived".

The reason this makes me so angry (and believe me, I was livid when I discovered what was going on) is that it violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Creative Commons. In particular, one of the primary rationales of the Arkham Sanitarium project is that everything gets released under a Creative Commons license. It's yours to do with as you please, forever, with three trivial conditions: you give attribution, you don't make money off it, and you share anything you create with it in the same spirit.

I have no problem with a "free" service making money. I was cool with Scribd placing ads on the pages serving up my content because I thought it was a fair trade for the service they provided. I was a little annoyed with their attempts to turn a document hosting service into some kind of social networking site, but even that I could put up with. But taking content that was freely given, placed under a Creative Commons license that they themselves acknowledged, and then putting it behind a paywall? That's where I jump off.

All the files currently hosted at Scribd will be moved to Google Docs. I'll keep a running tally of the transition here, providing links to both the files and the original post where they appeared. I'll also be editing all of the original posts to remove every single link to the soon-to-be-deleted content at Scribd.

The "Shadow Out of Time" relief map of Australia is available here. The original post is here.

The massive 17.5" by 22.5" map of Antarctica from the "At the Mountains of Madness" project is available here. The original post is here.

The scan of the article from the July 1979 "Starlog" magazine regarding the ill-fated "Cry of Cthulhu" move is here. The original post is here.

The basic Miskatonic University specimen labels are here. The original post is here.

The Miskatonic University sports pennant is here. The original post is here.

Raven's Cthulhu Mythos Prop Labels are over here. The original post is here.

Raven's generic Miskatonic University specimen labels are here. The original post is here.

Raven's Miskatonic University specimen tags. Front face is here, rear face here. The original post is over here.

The 1912 British Postal Telegram is here. The original post is here.

The Hellraiser Elysium Configuration is here. The original post is here.

Raven's Miskatonic University Hazard Labels are here. The original post is here.

The Classic Era Map of Egypt is here. The original post is here.

The 1920's Map of Antarctica is here. The original post is here.

The Arkham Death Certificate is here. The original post is here.

The interactive Tramp Steamer Ticket is over here. The original post with the PDF is here, and the JPG version here.

The 1922 encyclopedia article on Australia is over here. The original post is here.

The blank Radiogram Telegram with customizable form fields is here. The original post is here.

The Medical Certificate of Insanity from the Arkham Sanitarium Project is over here. The original post is here.

The Commitment Warrant from the Arkham Sanitarium Project is here. The original post is here.

The Arkham Sanitarium Clinical Chart is here. The original post is here.

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Diseases letterhead is here. The original post is here.

The Arkham Sanitarium General Record File Card is here. The original post is here.

The interactive Arkham Sanitarium Patient Admission Form is here. The original post is here.

The Arkham Sanitarium Admission Questionnaire is here. The original post is here.

The Interactive Arkham Sanitarium Letterhead is available over here. The original post is here.

The Arkham Sanitarium Electroshock Treatment Record is here. The original post is here.

The Arkham Sanitarium Patient Transfer Form is over here. The original post is here.

Alex Pearson's Lovecraftian Pharmacy Labels are here. The original post is here.

The Arkham Sanitarium Patient Record with Photo is here. The original post is here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Props for Sale

A commenter left a note that Scribd may be selling copies of some of the older paper props I've posted there. I've noticed a few I've posted no longer show up on my document listing, but wrote it off to a glitch. Before I summon the drama llama and pull everything off the site I'd appreciate any information you might have on the subject.

If you've visited the site, is Scribd selling copies of the files, or has another user copied them and offered them for sale?

Update: As the comments point out it, Scribd is indeed charging for access.

This is unacceptable, but it's ultimately my fault this happened for not paying attention to their terms of service. All of this material was supposed to be free, forever, so I'll be making everything available via Google Docs. That may take some time, so bear with me. It's bad enough that they've hijacked content that should be free, but it really torques me off that they've also taken the hard work of others.

Update: What makes this situation even worse is that Scribd allegedly embraces the use of a Creative Commons license, but then monetizes content that was clearly designated as non-commercial.

Arkham Sanitarium Pharmacy Labels

Alex Kaeda kindly posted a link to these pharmacy labels he created in the discussion of new paper props for the Arkham Sanitarium project.

My sincere thanks to Mr. Kaeda.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Update

I have good news and bad news.

First, the good news. The postcards, file folders, and notebooks are all done. They're currently working there way across the country and should arrive at my home by Friday, the original target date.

Now, the bad news. The custom die cutting needed for the shape of the Arkham Sanitarium patches and pins is slowing down the order. I'll hopefully have the production samples today or tomorrow, but that means production is likely to take at least another week. That would push the ship date for the completed prop packages to next weekend.

I apologize for the delay, but manufacturing is the one part of the process that I don't have any control over.

Update: The first production sample for the patches is in.

Once again, it's a good news/bad news situation. The die cut for the custom shape, which had the potential to be a real problem, is perfect. Unfortunately, there are two minor problems that will require another pass before the production run can start- the color mismatch between the "Arkham Sanitarium" lettering and the inner shield fill has to be corrected, and the slight drop shadow on the key and torch are missing. The latter problem is a little odd considering the drop shadow on the snake came out perfectly.

One thing I'm not worried about, but you might be, is the slightly rough look of the sample. They always look like that. When I ordered the very first Miskatonic patch I almost cried when I saw the production test, but the whole point of the sample is to fine tune the programming that will be driving the embroidery machine.

Odds and Ends

I have some odds and ends up on Ebay that you may find of interest, including two bottled specimens...

...and a backpack from a disastrous commission. The client wanted a selection of props based on "The Shadow Out of Time", but after making an initial payment they vanished into the ether. Which was a bit of a sticky wicket, since I'd already invested a goodly sum in reproducing a backpack from the Australian expedition.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Patient Record

I had a request for a record form including space for a photo of the patient. This would be handy for those occasions when a full patient file isn't necessary, but you want something a little more immersive than a simple verbal description. The provided space is sized to accommodate a standard 2.5" by 3.5" photograph.

You can download the full PDF over here at Google Docs.

The Arkham Sanitarium project now includes 14 prop documents, and I think every major aspect of the subject has been covered. If there's anything I've missed, or something in particular you would like to see, I'm open to suggestions. There's always room for improvement, but at this point the available material is pretty comprehensive.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Photographs

Today we have a black and white photograph of Arkham Sanitarium taken in the spring of 1927. This is facing east, showing us the side of the building we haven't seen in previous pictures. Just click through for the full size photos.

Standard black and white:

Spooky, grunged up version:

The two different versions are the result of a few emails over the last few months asking for "spookier" versions of prop photographs. In the past I've refrained from dirtying up photographs because I wanted a very clean, period, real-world look, but I thought this might save folks interested in that look some time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Patient Transfer

Another prop document from Arkham Sanitarium, this time the paperwork for handling patient transfers. For many of the more unusual cases this would likely be the only record that they were ever at the sanitarium, the rest of their file having been transferred along with the patient.

You can download the full PDF over here at Google Docs.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Strange Waters

Artist "Mirabella Took" brings us this cunningly crafted brass and copper navigational device. I can't bring myself to call it by it's official name, a "Steampunk Pirate Pocketwatch", since it's so far beyond the typical brass candlesticks and watch gears junk foisted off by most steampunk artisans. Rant aside, this would make a fantastic arcane device.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lovecraftian Pharmacy Labels

Alex Pearson sent over this selection of medicine bottle and pharmacy labels inspired by Lovecraft's works. They would make fun little decorative props applied to vintage-style bottles, particularly with Halloween just around the corner.

My sincere thanks to Mr. Pearson for sharing his work. Just click through on the appropriate link below to download the full PDF from Scribd. You can also find a copy at over here in Google Documents.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I've had a few emails asking if it was too late to get on board the Arkham Sanitarium project. The answer to that is "probably".

There are likely going to be some spares, but I think it's a matter of basic fairness that the people that stepped up and pledged get first dibs on everything. They're the ones that made the whole project possible by putting up their money, most of them over six weeks ago. There are a handful of people that contacted me during the fund drive to make alternative payment arrangements (for a variety of reasons) and they'll get the same consideration.

The only salve I can offer to anyone that missed out is the assurance that this won't be the last prop package. I think everyone that pledged is going to be very happy with their swag. If that's the case, then I expect I'll be able to leverage that goodwill into making another project possible.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magical Implements

Artist Mike Smith brings us this nicely done magical curio cabinet. Given that it's a work in progress I can't wait to see where he goes with it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Update

I finished ordering all the items in the Arkham Sanitarium prop package earlier today. Everything is now in the hands of the vendors, and I'll keep you updated as the production process moves along.

Roughing It

The talented Rev. Marx has been producing a series of props for the indy film "The Black Duke". His latest update on the project features an excellent tutorial on converting an off the shelf wooden box into a convincingly aged artifact.

First I started hammering dents into the surface with a small ball peen hammer, then I took some heavier swings at it with a claw hammer. Then I started raking the claw of the hammer across the surface. Then I started making divots and gouging small chunks out of it with the claw. I was making some significant damage, but it was not enough. I have done this kind of distressing in the past to simulate age, and usually, just a few dozen light whacks with the hammer to dent it up is sufficient to make it look old, but this project called for more extreme measures.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Notebook

Here's a look at the Arkham Sanitarium notebooks. The design is patterned after traditional composition books and intentionally generic. I wanted something that could pass as belonging to a staff member or a patient, used for keeping treatment notes in the former case and as a therapeutic tool filled with artwork and insane scribblings in the latter.

The raw artwork:

A quick and dirty mockup of the finished product:

If there aren't any major objections these will be sent off for production tomorrow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Postcard

Today we have a vintage painted color postcard of Arkham Sanitarium dating back to around 1920. This view shows the front approach to the sanitarium and the two immense United States flags that flew in front of the compound until August 26, 1924, when they were destroyed during a massive storm.*

This is one of the postcards that will be part of the Arkham Sanitarium prop package, but feel free to print out your own. The package itself is now in the home stretch and should be mailed out in approximately two weeks. I've received the funds from Amazon payments and will be sending out all the materials for production on Tuesday (Monday being the Labor Day holiday here in the US).

Just click through for the full sized graphics.

* A very real storm that ravaged the area where Arkham would be located. Winds up to 90 MPH knocked over trees, drove ships in harbor aground, and tore off roofs. The damage would have been even worse, but the storm peaked at low tide, sparing coastal areas from an overwhelming storm surge.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Mellies Edition

The very talented Florian Mellies created both the Cthulhu idol and arcane tablet pictured below. When I first saw it I thought the idol was a small model photoshopped into the picture. Nope, it's full-sized. Which I think makes it the second largest Cthulhu idol ever created, behind the 7' concrete lawn sculpture that I occasionally find pictures of on the net.* The Mellies Cthulhu would get bumped down to the third spot if one counts the giant inflatable Cthulhu created by the Rev. Marx as an "idol".

* And which I can't seem to find a picture of right now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dig We Must

Erik Anderson sent over this snapshot of his very snazzy Miskatonic Expedition bag on a genuine expedition. I love seeing gear like this in the wild.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Arkham Sanitarium Patient File

This is the preliminary layout for the file folders that I'm 95% sure are going to be part of the prop package. Combined with the existing Arkham Sanitarium documents they'll kick things up a notch, and it's damnably difficult to produce custom file folders on a DIY basis without access to a specialized large format laser or inkjet printer. Click through for the full-size graphics.

Here's the raw layout:

And a quick and dirty mockup:

They're pretty cool as static props, but they're also useful narrative tools. From an investigative standpoint the file's custody log can serve as a killer clue in live action or tabletop games, bringing to light inconsistencies in testimony from various characters.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Koi and Soles Edition

Artists Ann Koi and Jason Soles bring us this cast resin Cthulhu statue. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I believe it served as the model for an illustration in one of the books from the short-lived D20 Cthulhu line.