“Not a lot of folks expected a Lao American poet on stage,” said Lao American award-winning writer, Bryan Thao Worra, who sat on a panel among some sci-fi greats at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend.
The panel was on “H.P. Lovecraft and the Necronomicon: 75 years of mingling fact and fiction”, marks the 75th anniversary of the “History of the Necronomicon,” a short essay written by iconic horror author H.P. Lovecraft and published a year after his death.
Since then, the dread book written by the mad poet Abdul Alhazred has appeared in movies, books, comics, cartoons, art, music, and games. Although originally a literary hoax, there are hundreds of products that bear its name today. Audience members were invited to come explore the truth and legend behind the greatest creation of the 20th century’s greatest weird fiction writer, and “learn how and why the book and its creator continue to influence all aspects of culture”.
The other panelists included Brian Yuzna (director/producer of Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, Necronomicon, and more), Mark Kinsey Stephenson (actor, “The Unnamable”), artist Mike Dubisch, editor Leslie Klinger (upcoming “Annotated H.P. Lovecraft”), author Cody Goodfellow (“Radiant Dawn” “Ravenous Dusk”, others) and Arkham Bazaar owner Brian Callahan, who also founded and organized the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon. Aaron Vanek, the chair of the Los Angeles edition of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival served as the moderator.
We asked Thao Worra a few questions about the event.
What was your favorite moment during the panel discussion?
It was great meeting Brian Yuzna. His films were a very formative part of my childhood, cementing much of my love for the work of H.P. Lovecraft. I had a chance to briefly discuss my work as a writer with him, and how science fiction is a more interesting way to examine the journey of Lao refugees, compared to the way most mainstream narratives have shown our journey so far.
It was also wonderful to see almost 300 people show up late at night for a talk like this. Everyone added in some great points to the discussion. Cody Goodfellow got the panel off to a great start, putting it all in context for newcomers. Mark Kinsey Stephenson’s personal experiences as an actor working with Lovecraftian material also stood out to many of the participants. I’ve been a fan of Mike Duisch’ work, and he brought in great points about what it meant for an artist to try and depict the indescribable horrors Lovecraft hinted at. I’m looking forward to seeing Leslie Klinger’s new book, which has great notes about what inspired Lovecraft and the fears that drove him. Much of Brian Callahan’s experience with the Necronomicon mirrored my own growing up, and I was left wishing it was easier for me to make it up to Portland more often.
While some may have been irked by it, I found the technical difficulties we had getting some of the videos and slides we had planned for the presentation entirely appropriate for a legendary book that supposedly brings doom to anyone who even dares to look at a page of its cursed text.
What did the audience ask from a Lao American poet?