I first came across Zalgo early last week whilst browsing my favourite humour site b3ta. A little delving later and I found myself hooked on a small but intriguing internet phenomenon. It seemed like the sort of material that the audeince here would appreciate, so I thought I'd collect some of my favourite examples together for you in one thread. Besides which I didn't have a proper article lined up in time for this week and this represents a great stopgap for the lazy - none of the cartoons in this thread are my own work. I'd credit the true authors if I knew who they were, but mostly these are anonymous.
Zalgo is the name given to a malevolent entity of unknown origin who seems to make a habit of popping up in digitally altered versions of popular comic strips. Garfield is a popular target. So is the webcomic ctrl+alt+del.
The more popular and cuddly the original comic, the better the target for Zalgo, it seems and it's not hard to see why. Much of the combined humour and horror of these cartoons comes from the juxtaposition of something safe and fun with something very horrible indeed. More horrible in some cases than others.
Part of the reason that I thought it might make a suitable topic for a F:AT article, aside from the fact that it's a comic strip and is usually rather grotesque, was the definate Lovecraftian edge to some of the material.
But whatever the Lovecraft influence, Zalgo isn't a name from the mythos. Apparently it's an Assyrian name meaning "ray of light". But the only relevant definiation I could find was this: "The Nezperdian hive-mind of chaos. Zalgo. He who Waits Behind The Wall."
I have no idea who invented him or who first thought to corrupt some popular comic strips in this fashion. For the moment it seems to be confined to a few of the more off-the-wall online forums and communities, such as the place I first found it. I hope it spreads. On second thoughts, perhaps it's best it doesn't. You never know where it might lead.
I have a few more of these saved if you want to see them. But I served up the best ones that I found for your delectation and I saved my favourite for last. I know exactly what I like about this one - unlike the others this one has a real sense of mounting terror in spite of being only four panels long. And the obligatory gross end panel is a winner, too.
Perhaps someone wants to set to work on a brand new Great Old One card for Arkham Horror?