Writers React: Thumbs Up for New WFA Design, Thumbs Down for Lovecraft Nominee Pins

Everyone’s raving about Vincent Villafranca’s winning design for the World Fantasy Award. However, World Fantasy’s statement in the same press release that nominee pins will still feature the supposedly retired Lovecraft image is being widely criticized.

There was one dissent, from a Castalia House blogger —

Here is a sampling of the reaction to the news about the Lovecraft nominee pin:

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

37 thoughts on “Writers React: Thumbs Up for New WFA Design, Thumbs Down for Lovecraft Nominee Pins

  1. Honestly, Lovecraft probably wouldn’t be exactly thrilled to see his visage immortalized in this fashion, so at the moment the question becomes what is the ever-loving point?

  2. Honestly, Lovecraft probably wouldn’t be exactly thrilled to see his visage immortalized in this fashion,

    “You are giving grotesqueries of my head to Negresses? Aieee! The world has crumbled as I predicted! My soul is to be used in dark, squamous magics! Put me back in the grave, swiftly, swiftly!”

  3. Anyone think the “Cthulhu derived from antisemitic imagery” theory holds any water? I have a hard time with it. Lovecraft wasn’t particularly deep, but that seems like a remarkably shallow reference.

  4. @kathodus – yeah, while Lovecraft’s racism certainly bled into his fictional cosmology, borrowing from political cartoons doesn’t seem like his style. Plus, octopuses weren’t the only sea creatures that he modelled his monsters around.

    As an aside, though, Sax Rohmer used the racist octupus metaphor in the first Fu Manchu book:

    “The millions might sleep in peace–the millions in whose cause we labored!–but we who knew the reality of the danger knew that a veritable octopus had fastened upon England– a yellow octopus whose head was that of Dr. Fu-Manchu, whose tentacles were dacoity, thuggee, modes of death, secret and swift, which in the darkness plucked men from life and left no clew behind.”

    So clearly, the trope did make an impact on fantastic literature, even if Cthulhu isn’t part of that,

  5. “You are giving grotesqueries of my head to Negresses? Aieee! The world has crumbled as I predicted! My soul is to be used in dark, squamous magics! Put me back in the grave, swiftly, swiftly!”

    Brilliant!

  6. Lenore Jones said:
    “So close and yet so far. Just dump the pins, WFC.”

    Yes the WFC should just dump the pins for the OBVIOUS reasons. If not for that there are many other reasons that the WFC should take into consideration.

    One of those other reasons should be to establish the organization’s new brand, and that requires “Brand Consistency”. Why go through all of this trouble and effort to commission this new beautiful award, and symbol for the convention and the awards that it presents, only to muggle the waters, and hand out pins to the finalist that have a completely different symbol displayed on them?

    IMO That’s just bad marketing to begin with.

  7. I’lm very puzzled as to why the pins weren’t changed to the new, vastly improved artwork. Hell I’d buy one if they made them available as a fundraiser for some worthy cause.

    Warren Ellis had a telling take on Lovecraft in his Planetary series. The Planetary team is called to deal with a Lovecraftian monger attacking the Rhose Iseland city that Lovecraft is living in and one of them is taken by HPL into the basement to see what HPL called negroid eggs, a term HPL uses in his writings.

  8. …what HPL called negroid eggs
    Say what?
    On second thought, forget I asked.

    I guess a Lovecraftian monger is a step up from a fishmonger. Except maybe in Innsmouth.

  9. This is why the old pins are still going to be used:

    William Lawhorn @wmslawhorn:
    Sadly I wasn’t being sarcastic. Hundreds of those head pins remain to be given out.
    8:59 AM – 13 Apr 2017

    William Lawhorn @wmslawhorn:
    The 2014 WFC purchased a huge number of pins which were mistakenly produced without authority. They have been passed along.
    9:06 AM – 13 Apr 2017

  10. Yes, it definitely makes sense to give the new, inoffensive (and very pretty! even though I was totally on Team Lamassu) design to one person per category, and the old, very offensive to some design to many more people thereby virtually guaranteeing continuing offense going forward. Financial considerations aside.

  11. The pins would be great for fannish projects along the lines of what fans have done with (or to) smurfs and peeps.

  12. Sean Kirk:

    muggle the waters

    I hope that usage was intentional! Love it. And yes, whether or not you agree that the old design is offensive, mixing the two is clearly bad branding.

  13. The guys on YouTube with their hydraulic presses and things that melt and things that blow up should be given the pins to experiment with. Think how appropriately freaky they could get!

    Or sell them off and donate the money to maybe the Carl Brandon Society or other charity for fen who are PoC.

    Missed it by THAT much, WFC. Still offensive and now stupid as far as marketing/branding goes.

    @Kurt Busiek, please accept this internet.

  14. Based on my experience with volunteer organizations, I immediately wondered if it wasn’t a case of “we have pins we have to use up” and am unsurprised to find that is the case.

    Personally I would suggest they immediately get new pins made up with the new design and figure out a different way to recoup the cost of the old pins. Selling them would be crass (imo) but selling objects made from them might not be. Or perhaps there are some adherents to the old design/cult of Lovecraft out there that would purchase the pins to save them from such a fate?

    I have (and do treasure) my finalist pin; it’s not cheaply made but I can’t guess at what the unit cost was. If there’s hundreds maybe they could do something like build a throne out of them, Game of Thrones style. Then you could get your photo taken on it at the con for a small fee.

  15. Selling them would be crass (imo) but selling objects made from them might not be.

    Selling them wouldn’t bother me any. And that way, all the supporters of the old bust could have a souvenir of their loyalty to tradition.

  16. Kurt Busiek: Selling them wouldn’t bother me any. And that way, all the supporters of the old bust could have a souvenir of their loyalty to tradition.

    I would agree — except that I think that cheapens the pins owned by people who were actually Finalists for a World Fantasy Award.

    The pins have already been paid for — and whoever ordered them without authorization should take the financial loss. They should just be melted down to slag, and the WFC Board should get new pins which match the new trophy.

  17. They could do a few things to clear out those pins:

    1. Sell them to Gahan Wilson’s Virtual Museum so he could give the pins to people who buy subscriptions.

    2. Launch a GoFundMe to fund a new pin so they can just give the old ones to Wilson.

    3. Launch a KickStarter for an official history of the World Fantasy Awards and use the pins as a stretch goal.

    4. Create a new pin and let nominees choose which one they want.

  18. @JJ: The pins have already been paid for — and whoever ordered them without authorization should take the financial loss. That would have required a lawsuit by WFC against the !@#$%^&*()!! who made the illegitimate pins. A suit would have cost a lot more than buying them out.

  19. The current World Fantasy Convention suing a past World Fantasy Convention might not be a solution that sat well with a future World Fantasy Convention.

  20. Chip Hitchcock: That would have required a lawsuit by WFC against the !@#$%^&*()!! who made the illegitimate pins.

    No, that would require the WFC Board and future WFCs not reimbursing them.

    At this point, whoever last paid for them (I’m guessing that would be the Board, or the concom with the unauthorized person, since any WFC concom which purchased more than the required number of pins from whoever ordered them would be idiots to do so) needs to suck it up and take the loss.

  21. I’m confused — why are you guessing? William Lawhorn, a member of the WFC board, said the 2014 convention ordered the pins.

  22. “whoever last paid for them”

    Has the 2014 con on-sold the whole batch to the WFC Board? Has the whole batch been on-sold to each subsequent con? Are they still holding them and insisting that subsequent cons purchase from them? We don’t know.

  23. @JJ: No, that would require the WFC Board and future WFCs not reimbursing them. I meant what I said. The illegitimate producer was not a WFC; he was a random vendor who thought the pins would be a neat thing to sell and either didn’t bother to find out whether the image belonged to someone or ignored what he found.
    @rcade: I’m confused — why are you guessing? William Lawhorn, a member of the WFC board, said the 2014 convention ordered the pins. Please reread what he said, as quoted above by JJ.
    Possibly you were both confused by Lawhorn saying “mistakenly”; I think “illegally” is correct here, but IASNAL and don’t know what words are precisely correct for reproducing something copyrighted without permission.

    @Matthew Johnson: John M. Ford had a pair of “Groucho glasses” hanging on one of his two WFA trophies; I’ve heard rumors of other decorations but not confirmed them.

  24. @Chip — if Gahan Wilson granted permission for the WFC to use the image, then I don’t see how their use of it as a pin would be illegal. It may be that the agreement between Wilson and the WFC specified that it would only be used for the trophy itself, but without seeing a copy of it, none of us can definitively say whether or not it was illegal.

  25. Chip Hitchcock: The illegitimate producer was not a WFC; he was a random vendor who thought the pins would be a neat thing to sell and either didn’t bother to find out whether the image belonged to someone or ignored what he found.

    Where did you get that information? They’re the official WFA Finalist pins, and they’ve been given out for years (Bujold has one from 2002 in the necklace Elise Matthesen made for her using all of her finalist pins for various awards).

    According to the tweet I quoted, because they’d run out, a new batch of them (a very, VERY large batch of them) was ordered by the 2014 WFC.

  26. I am sure I am just repeating what people have said here already but I was distinctly told by a board member some years ago that someone came across a World Fantasy Awards pin, thought it was awesome, and reproduced them to sell on ebay. This was talked about widely at that particular WFC and my impression is that the board then found out and issued a cease and desist and took possession of the pins. (Or purchased them entirely.) If that is the batch that they are trying to use up, well, frankly, it is a sunk cost and they can easily walk away from them. Better to melt them down, or destroy them, anyway, as they are not, ever, the official pins produced by the convention itself. Either way, it would be just easier and faster to produce new ones.

  27. Chip Hitchcock: The illegitimate producer was not a WFC; he was a random vendor who thought the pins would be a neat thing to sell and either didn’t bother to find out whether the image belonged to someone or ignored what he found.

    Okay, why didn’t you just say that you are on the World Fantasy Convention Board, and that’s how you knew what really happened?

  28. The illegitimate producer was not a WFC; he was a random vendor who thought the pins would be a neat thing to sell and either didn’t bother to find out whether the image belonged to someone or ignored what he found.

    Then why would the WFC be stuck with them? Wouldn’t the random vendor be stuck with them?

  29. I suspect that once you receive a cease-and-desist from the WFC authorities that that the vendor would have to cough up the remaining pins into their possession and I imagine he was reimbursed for the manufacturing costs, perhaps. So, that is probably why they are stuck with them.

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