My ongoing attempts to sculpt a reasonable likeness of Great Lord Cthulhu...um...go on. Here now, I present to you the "final version," which is not, in fact, the final version. This is merely one of two things: 1) The latest version I'm reasonably happy with; or 2) The base by which a true final draft will spring from. After the elephantine horror that came before, I borrowed a few Wayne Douglas Barlowe books from Scott, and became...what's the word? Oh yes, inspired. Barlowe's Expedition may be the best, if not the only illustrative tome to build a convincing alien world up from the ground up. These are not Earthen animals wedged into an awkward alien mold. The critters on Darwin IV would not evolve on Earth, and you have no idea have much I appreciate that. The only other alien monsters I've felt that about are the titular xenomorphs from Aliens, and even they were portrayed by guys in suits (most of the time).
Anyway, I took much from Barlowe's work, but Scott's wager demanded that my starspawn conform to the description put forth by Lovecraft through Old Castro in The Call of Cthulhu. Thus, a vaguely anthropoid outline, a head filled with writhing tentacles, and horrible demon wings were the order of the day. What's an artist to do?
After reading the story a few more times, I realized that Old Castro is, in fact, recalling heresay. He did witness the master of R'lyeh himself, but heard the story from the survivors of that terrible meeting. Additionally, these were terrified men telling the story, their psyches flumoxed by what they were seeing. In my humble opinion, the only concrete physical details of Cthulhu offered by the story are contained in the description of the soapstone relief. Those details are fairly good, but there's another problem to consider: Humanizing our gods. People tend to give their dieties human features, probably so we feel close to them. Geisha, for instance, may have an elephant's head, but it's got a human body...albeit one with too many arms. Finally, Cthulhu's followers were commanded to its will through psychic transmissions given off by the great traveler. Cthulhu may have implanted a false image of itself to calm his chosen. A more humanoid vistage would help to prevent insanity. Or perhaps Cthulhu's followers really did see the beast above but rationalized their god's horrible shape to fit more traditional Earthen imagery.
The underlying reason here is that I'm not doing this shit. Cthulhu is alien, not terran, dammit. I am also operating under the condition that Cthulhu is a real animal, and so must adhere to basic principles of life: it has to eat, sense its surroundings, and generally make a living without relying on magical powers. Cthulhu evolved somewhere.
So here's what Cthulhu is going to have:
1) A large central "trunk" tentacle for manipulating objects;
2) A pair of tentacles with olfactory sensors on their tips (the bulbous ones);
3) A pair of tentacles which are constantly moving, ending in a mass of feathery organs. These feathery organs sense vibration, temperature, and electromagnetic signals. Very handy for a blind creature.
4) A pair of modified feelers just behind the "head" which constantly stretch and retract, moving in all directions at all times, feeling the ground in front of, below, and around Cthulhu;
5) Two large, elephantine legs (the ankle spines will probably go away);
6) A massively fat tail that, from above, looks rather like a devil's tail. The tail is flat (and bright red) across its dorsal surface. Cthulhu stores fat in its tail, which is mobile at its base;
7) Two impressive "wings" which slide open and closed as a Poker player would flare his cards. The wingtips are basically gills, constantly fluttering as oxygen (or whatever Cthulhu breathes) is passed over the fine filaments extending from hundreds of slits on each tip's surface. Cthulhu isn't trying to take flight--he's just breathing;
8) A massive, bulbous "octopus head," which houses a large brain. The large brains size is not exclusively for the production of psychic phenomena testified to by his followers, but rather the mass of sensory information gathered by his armada of feelers and tentacles.
Expect a nicely Photoshopped final version later on, complete with...gasp...a background!