Kong (AKA: "King Kong", "Mighty Kong", "Kong the Unvanquished", "Kong the Invincible", "Kong: King of Beasts", "Kong: The Jungle King", "Kong: The Jungle Beast", "Kong: Eighth Wonder of the World") first appears in King Kong (1933 film), as a gigantic ape-god worshiped by the natives of "Skull Island", a mysterious, uncharted Pacific island hidden beyond a wall of mist.
In the Mythos
...A gigantic semi-humanoid gorilla pitted against modern civilization, his hands and feet have the size and strength of steam shovels; his girth is that of a steam boiler. This is a monster with the strength of a hundred men. But more terrifying is the head — a nightmare head with bloodshot eyes and jagged teeth set under a thick mat of hair, a face half-beast half-human!
— Merion c. Cooper, production notes for King Kong (1933 film)
Kong was a gigantic ape-god worshiped by the natives of "Skull Island", a mysterious, uncharted Pacific island hidden beyond a wall of mist, the remnant of a Lost civilization. In 1933, an expedition of American and English explorers took Kong from the island to New York to exploit the discovery as a curiosity for the entertainment of thrill-seekers, with disastrous results, with Kong being killed soon afterward.
Kong would have lived on the island at least since the Gaslight era, through the 1920s, and into the Pulp Era until 1933, but it is unknown just how old Kong and his native cult really are - it's assumed that Kong was the last of his kind, but it's not even that clear whether he was the first and only one of his kind; worship of Kong and possibly his ancestors might date far back into antiquity, even pre-history.
By the 1920s, Kong is worshiped by a decadent native cult clinging to the rapidly eroding edge of "Skull Island", a remnant of lost Lemuria or Mu, once home to an advanced civilization which has since either vanished from the surface of the Earth as their continent disintegrated, or perhaps fallen into decay and surviving today as the pitiful wretches who now inhabit Skull Island, though there is evidence to suggest that the Skull Islanders today are at least in part relative latecomers this ancient continent, who either found the land uninhabited, or conquered and mixed with whatever original inhabitants might have remained on the island when the current "natives" arrived. This "civilized" part of the island has all but completely been eroded into the sea, with the islanders' villages perched precariously on cliffs overhanging the sea.
Kong himself is kept isolated from the "civilized" part of Skull Island on what is today the main, wild part of the island, in a dense, dangerous jungle behind a vast wall of cyclopean stone (which the natives say was built by the "Old Ones" when the Earth was created), the wall fortified in places by the natives with gigantic wooden palisades as it crumbles from the ravages of time and the erosion of the island. A gigantic wooden gate set into the wall is constructed before a sacrificial platform to which human sacrifices - young maidens of the village - are tied, offerings to appease Kong when the gate is opened for him and drums and gongs beaten to summon him, in hopes of ensuring that the villagers, who today have little territory left for hunting or agriculture, will not be allowed to starve, which would now drive them to either cannibalism or extinction - if Kong is appeased, hunters and gatherers might pass beyond the gate into the deadly jungles of Skull Island, in search of food - with the blessing and protection of Kong, some of the hunters and gatherers might return with food for another season. The fate of the maiden sacrifices is unknown, but the islanders consider the sacrifices to be honored "brides" of Kong.
It is difficult to say how long this relationship between the Islanders and Kong has existed, or indeed how old Kong really is: the Islanders consider Kong a god, the only one of his kind, as old as Skull Island itself, dwelling there (with the natives themselves) since the creation of the Earth. With evidence suggesting that the island is far older than the islanders themselves, and some suspicion that the Islanders arrived late in the island's history to find it uninhabited, and with the main part of Skull Island practically unexplored, the truth is uncertain, though it is possible that some of the prehistoric tomes of the Cthulhu Mythos contain hints of the secrets hidden behind the wall of Kong's island. Indeed, though scientifically unlikely, we might wildly conjecture from native accounts that worship of Kong might well extend thousands or millions of years into prehistory, with Lemurian cults making terrible sacrifices to Kong as long ago as the Hyborian Age or even the Thurian Age....
Following the expedition of 1933 when Kong was taken by force from the island by American and English explorers and later killed, the fate of the natives without the protection of Kong is uncertain: Kong seems likely to have been the mightiest force beyond the gate which the natives could have bargained with, and in his absence the natives would surely have been driven to darker extremes and bargains to stave off hunger on one side of the gate, and the horrors concealed by the jungles on the other side of the gate, which only Kong could tame.
Island of the Skull
The Island of the Skull, or Skull Island, was a large but dwindling, volatile, volcanic landmass in the Indian Ocean west of Sumatra, remnants of lost continent Lemuria and formerly home to its lost civilization, which has been all but completely obliterated when the continent ripped itself apart in a prehistoric volcanic catastrophe. The island has since been eroded away, little by little, as volcanic and tectonic activity under the sea rips further parts of the land mass away. The island is named for a distinctive feature: Skull Mountain, a large stony mountain which bears an uncanny resemblance to a humanoid skull.
The strange mist that blankets the island is consequent in some way to a mysterious geomagnetic phenomenon which interferes with compasses, radar, and many other navigation devices in addition to obscuring visibility. The field is also capable of disrupting aircraft and ships that get too close to the island in an effect similar to the Bermuda Triangle, with the area mostly known to modern explorers for mysterious disappearances of ships and planes in the area, including most exploratory and scientific expeditions. This effect may be caused by some structure or artifact of lost technology located somewhere on the island.
The island, as part of lost Lemuria, was one of the oldest land masses on Earth, and maintained populations of creatures descended from monsters that had long ago gone extinct on the younger continents: dinosaur-like creatures, giant serpents, giant arthropods and worms, man-eating plants, and other strange and terrible creatures. Some of these monsters look similar to known but extinct species predating modern man, such as dinosaurs, with some - like lemurs - having survived on neighboring continents, but most of the island's flora and fauna were unique to Lemuria, unknown elsewhere, would be totally new to modern science when discovered by any investigators visiting the island, and would go extinct when the last of Skull Island is swallowed by the sea. Some of the stranger species may have been refugees from an isolated pocket ecosystem of the Hollow Earth which once opened onto the island, but has since been flooded by the encroaching seas.
The Island of the Skull was also one of the last surviving remnants of the Lemurian civilization above the waves until historic times, though by the 1920s even that would be lost as modern humans from other continents conquered and merged with the last surviving humanoid Lemurians, to produce the hybrid Skull Islander natives, with other surviving populations of Lemurians from the island having long ago fled the island for other continents, or returned to the sea to join the Deep Ones, or even fled to the Hollow Earth or other worlds, as most of the inhabitable landmass of the island had eroded into the seas by the 1920s, leaving mostly only the island's most distinctive man-made feature: a vast, cyclopean stone wall, used to separate the lost habitable part of the island from the deadly primordial jungles beyond the wall, where Skull Mountain and the island's monsters can be found. Other ruins of lost civilizations are believed to have been located on the island, some predating even the Lemurian civilization.
Trivia and Keeper Notes
- What could have been: Creator Merion C. Cooper assumed he had full control over the Kong character, and together with David O. Selznick in the 1950s or 1960s wanted to make a crossover film between King Kong and Tarzan... unfortunately, RKO had already licensed the character to Japan's Toho Studios for their Godzilla movies. Besides Tarzan, crossovers were also planned with Doc Savage and some other popular pulp characters.
Heresies and Controversies
- The "Kong Mythos" is a VERY pulpy addition to the Cthulhu Mythos, but well within the spirit of Pulp Cthulhu and even "Purist" Call of Cthulhu (RPG) gaming, suitable for the Gaslight era, traditional "Jazz Age" gaming, and especially Pulp Cthulhu.
- The "Kong Mythos" would also fit in well with more ancient settings - Dark Ages, Invictus, and certainly the prehistoric Hyborean Age and Thurian Age; Skull Island would still have been ancient in the Hyborean Age, but the extreme erosion of the island and decadence and collapse of the villagers into post-apocalyptic savagery depicted in some of the movies seem to be relatively recent developments. Some possibilities:
- Skull Island is a remnant of the lost continent of Lemuria, still a thriving and advanced civilization in the Thurian Age, in spite of the ongoing destruction of Lemuria. The wall would have been a relatively recent construction, to keep the increasingly marginalized Lemurian civilization safe as it is pressed more and more closely to the dangerous jungle of primordial nightmares beyond the wall.
- Skull Island is post-apocalyptic. It would have still been home to the remnants of the Lemurian civilization in the Hyborian Age, though the Lemurian civilization by then would have been far into its decline, the heights of its civilization and technology lost. The Lemurians are by now well aware of their own eventual extinction: the seas are closing in on the Lemurians on one side of the wall, while the jungle on the other side only grows more savage and dangerous as the Lemurian civilization collapses. Most of the Lemurians have fled the island for other continents, the Hollow Earth, to the seas, or even to other worlds.
- Skull Island would have been visited by outsiders numerous times even after the fall of Lemuria; by the classical era of Cthulhu Invictus (The Roman Empire), the island would have been visited by the ancestors of the later "native" population, who would make their home on the island, conquering and mixing with any decadent survivors of theLemurian civilization still dwelling on the island.
- Skull Island by the Dark Ages will have become a very dangerous and decadent place, as the sea closes in on the Skull Islanders, who in turn are ill-prepared for the horrors that await them on the far side of the wall. Agricultural crop lands and wilderness for hunting are essentially lost to the seas, with the Skull Islanders dependent on the seas to supply most of their food. This might have been the age when the original bargain with Kong and his kind was struck: to trade "brides" for Kong's blessing and protection on the dark side of the cyclopean wall. This might not have been the only bargain the islanders might have struck: the Deep Ones, for example, might have had a harsher bargain of their own to offer....
- By the 1920s "Jazz Age", Skull Island would be much the island seen in the movies: post-apocalyptic even for the later Skull Islanders, a dying island filled with savage horrors and desperate people facing their own extinction. The Pulp Era up to 1933 would be the traditional setting for the movies.
- By the Second World War, the native Skull Islanders will have been driven from the last of the crumbling sea-side cliffs as the island erodes past the cyclopean wall. Any Islanders who could, would have fled the island, mingling into the populations of other Pacific islands. Survival for any men remaining on Skull Island without Kong is now extremely difficult: the remaining islanders must turn to very dark and dangerous methods of surviving against the horrors in the nightmare jungles beyond the wall, making dark bargains with terrible gods, sacrificing to more horrible monsters than even Kong, subsisting on cannibalism and murder, and worse. Skull Island might seem a tempting site for military bases during the war, until occupying armies encounter the monsters - humanoid, natural, cryptid, and supernatural - concealed by the savage jungles that remain.
- Post-war, little of Skull Island remains. In the 1950s and 1960s, it could be deemed useful only for atomic testing, and would subsequently be subjected to repeated atom bomb and nuclear weapon testing, until the radioactive remnants are at last swallowed by the sea. The last human beings to inhabit the island would be US soldiers, tasked with bulldozing and burying radioactive and toxic waste into soggy blast craters on the now barren and tiny island, with little or no protection from the deadly materials they are handling and breathing. Skull Island would be completely gone by the 1970s, all but forgotten except for sketchy reports buried mostly in U.S. Government archives, awaiting future Freedom-of-Information requests to expose the island's last remaining secrets to to the world....
Associated Mythos Elements
- races, servitor - Kong or his ancestors in antiquity could have been encountered by, and possibly worshiped by:
- races, other - Skull Island is home to many strange and terrifying monsters, most of which are hostile to Kong and man alike...
- cult: Skull Islanders (see above)
- location: Skull Island, which is possibly a remnant of Lemuria or Mu
- film: King Kong (1933 film) (and its sequels, remakes, reboots, clones, etc.)