In last week’s coverage of C2E2, I promised to share two of the coolest products from the show in upcoming posts – and I am about to do just that.
Though my buddy and Lovecraft devotee, comic artist Dirk Manning, was hoping for Cthulhu footy pajamas, I believe what I am about to serve up is (almost) as exciting.
Allow me to introduce you to Chris Karr and his Pnakotic Atlas.
Karr was first struck with the idea for the Pnakotic Atlas when driving through Maine. As a fan of Stephen King, Kerr became curious as to the actual locations of some of King’s more famous tales and thought it would be cool if there was a way to easily find some of them. Karr is an app developer by trade and an avid fan of H.P. Lovecraft (in addition to King). He decided to tackle the idea of an atlas that documented Lovecraft locations: a less potentially litigious option, as Lovecraft’s works are in the public domain.
The inspiration for the name Pnakotic Atlas, as all of you Lovecraftians know, comes from The Pnakotic Manuscripts, which are fictional manuscripts created by Lovecraft that first appeared in his short story “Polaris” (1918). They appear again in several other Lovecraft stories, including At the Mountains of Madness (1936), “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” (1926), “The Other Gods” (1933), and “The Shadow Out of Time” (1936).
The fictional library city of Pnakotus is where the Manuscripts are housed and where they, and Karr’s app, get their moniker.
Karr combed through Lovecraft’s works, pulling out any detail he could find about locations (the ones on Earth, anyway), and was able to document approximately 400 potential sites. Then using the stories as guides, he went about meticulously locating each place on Google Earth.
Even when Lovecraft created fictional towns, Karr was able to piece together enough literary clues to come up with a very educated estimation of where these fictional places may actually have been located on a map.
Using his geographical database, Karr then built an app which interacts with the GPS functionality on your tablet or smartphone, allowing you to identify when you are near a place which Lovecraft wrote about.
For instance, Karr showed me what I’d be in store for should I find myself in Providence, RI. A Lovecraft fan could easily spend two weeks on the road navigating to all of the Lovecraft locations in relative proximity. In case you weren’t aware, Lovecraft was born in Providence and spent most of his life there.
Seeking out artists who were creating Lovecraft-related work, Karr contacted them about using their art for the app. The upshot is that Karr’s atlas is beautifully illustrated and interactive, allowing the user not only to search by their geographic location, but by Lovecraft titles and key words. Each location is also accompanied by the associated text from the story(ies) in which it appears, allowing for maximum Lovecraft immersion.
Karr is also using the app to showcase the contributing artists. The app is $0.99 and the proceeds are distributed among the artists who retain the copyright for their work, simply allowing Karr use of it for the purpose of the app. Karr hopes the profit sharing model for apps will catch on, helping to promote and provide exposure to artists.
Karr continues to seek out artistic contribution via word of mouth, as well as social media, to make the app experience even richer. Utilizing Facebook, Karr states:
I post new Atlas images there as well as promote my artists. In between those times, I try to keep things fresh by posting items that I run across that would be of interest to fans of the Lovecraft stories and aesthetic.
The Pnakotic Atlas app is available to download for both Android and iPhone. You can also get a feel for the Lovecraft world that Karr has documented at the atlas’s website. If you are interested in submitting an artistic rendering of a Lovecraft locale, contact Chris Karr via his Facebook page.
Now, you have to admit, that was indeed pretty darn cool…
Let’s hear from all you Lovecraftians out there (and I know you are many). Did Chris do good? Post a comment or drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.