Lovecraft the advertising man

Am reading Lord of A Visible World, a biography of Lovecraft that consists totally of his letters. (Which, you know, dwarf his other output.) Some insights are immediate — namely, he has a sense of humor, he has really weird affectations (I can understand him calling himself “Grandpa”, being all antiquarian and cranky, but going from that to calling his aunts “daughters” is a bit much!), he seems basically a nice cosmic atheist guy, except socially spineless and with a couple of really dumb opinions. (That being mostly a reference to his anti-modernism and his racism. And his futilism isn’t exactly my cup of tea either, but I can understand it.)

However, the point of this post is the fact I came across — namely, when finances went badly, he briefly tried a job as a door-to-door salesman (no sales), and tried to get one writing gushy ad copy; no success. Now, the man is not the image we have of him, but there’s something altogether too funny in the idea of H.P. Lovecraft writing advertisements.

* * *

Just think of it!

7 out of 11 Bobbed Heads want

the Bobbie Pin

Keeps Bobbed Hair Tidy

in the blind winds redolent of the fungi of accursed Yuggoth which sweep out of the uncaring skies to eradicate the frail citadels of Man!

The Fastest Seller ever known in the Beauty Shop

* * *


No Gadgets — No Garters — No Ghastliness

but they DO stay up

Styles illustrated

2 pairs $ 1

No other sock made like this by the blind hairless white apes of Africay

Patented and exclusively




* * *

NEW Kissproof

the waterproof rouge…

in a startling jade green case

Kissproof — the modern rouge — stays on no matter WHAT one does! A single application lasts all day! The youthful NATURAL Kissproof color will make your cheeks temptingly kissable — blushingly red — pulsating with the very blasphemous spirit of reckless, irrepressible youth as yet untouched by the paralyzing Knowledge of old age! Your first application of Kissproof will delight you! Whether you journey to the catacombs of Ptolemais for forbidden embraces, or to the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries to slither your lips over things that even the epicures of the terrible shudder to mention in their unspeakable lotus-dreams, you should heed the words of Abdul Al-Hazred, the Mad Arab of Damascus: CHOOSE KISSPROOF… as hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon!

“I would do anything to get KISSPROOF, in a stylish green case! Seizing the green jade object, we gave a last glance at the bleached and cavern-eyed face of its owner and closed up the grave as we found it.” —Mrs. St. J., genuine testimonial

* * *

What do the neighbors think of her children?

To every mother her own are the ideal children. But what do the neighbors think? Do they smile at happy, grimy faces acquited in wholesome play? For people have a way of associating unclean clothes and faces with other questionable characteristics. And yet they cannot even guess at the abysms rent open when these dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous! No human language has words for such a Thing!

Fortunately, however, there’s soap and water.

“Bright, shining faces” and freshly laundered clothes seem to make children welcome anywhere… and, in addition, to speak volumes concerning their parents’ personal habits as well. Ia-R’lyehl Cihuiha flgagnl id Ia! No, I shall not shoot myself — I cannot be made to shoot myself!


(Published by the Association of American Soap and Glycerine Producers, Inc., to aid the work of Cleanliness Institute.)

* * *

“Now, Howard… that’s not quite what we want. And what, that’s what the graphics department did based on your… My God! What’re those THINGS?”

“That’s the ‘before’ picture, Mr. Smith.”

(All based on actual advertisements of the 20s; such as the one for Kissproof here, the one for soap, plus lines cribbed from HPL’s stories, and a few words of interpolation from me.)

3 Responses to “Lovecraft the advertising man”

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