Monsters and Legends is part of the fabulous debut lineup of titles from Flying Eye, a kids' imprint spun out of London's NoBrow (they're the publishers of recently reviewed books like Welcome to Your Awesome Robot and Akissi). The book, written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Garbiella Giandelli, is a fascinating reference work for kids 7 and up about the curious origins of the monsters of the popular imagination. The book recounts the odd history of stories of mermaids, chupacabras, cyclopses, dragons, the Loch Ness Monster, and other cryptozoology favorites. It's a great balance between fascination with monsters and lore and a skeptical inquiry into how widespread beliefs can be overturned by evidence and rational inquiry -- a real "magic of reality" book.
The illustrations in this book represent a range of engaging styles, and they bring it to life for even younger readers. My five year old and I spent several bedtimes on this, flipping through the pages, and stopping when a picture caught her eye. I had to interpret the text for her -- the language was often over her head -- but the stories absolutely grabbed her and it's become a family favorite.
As with other Flying Eye titles, this one is out in the UK right now and coming to the US on June 11 (here's a pre-order link). As a one-time monster kid who's doing his best to raise another one, this one gets my unreserved stamp of approval.
I picked up John Kenn Mortensen's More Post-It Monsters at a comic-show in London and it's terrific. Mortensen draws beautiful and grotesque line-art monsters on yellow sticky notes, and, as with the first collection of these, Sticky Monsters, More Post-It Monsters reproduces them with a minimum of text (apart from a brief and charming intro from China Mieville) and other distractions. It's just about 80 pages' worth of Gorey-esque illustrations that'll excite and reward your brain's monster-center.
Seattle's legendary Roq La Rue Gallery is moving from its longtime Belltown location to a beautiful new space in Pioneer Square! Congratulations, Kirsten! This month is your last chance to visit the current digs, and there's quite a send-off show opening tonight. Monster keeper Travis Louie has a new solo exhibit of paintings hanging until May 4! "Monsters On Their Day Off" is a series of portraits of Louie's elegant beasts during their down time. The paintings are also viewable online. Above, Baxter:
Baxter worked as a butler for an eccentric oil baron in 1898. His father was a Krampus who emigrated from Bavaria in the 1860's and married a school teacher from Piscataway, New Jersey. Baxter grew up to be erudite and purposeful. he had a fascination with the wonders of the world particularly insects. During the warmer months on his days off he would wander through the town marveling at nature.
What he has grasped is that, however much the rational and sane majority airily dismiss tales of fire-breathing dragons, strange creatures from outer space or beasts that inhabit the depths, there is still buried in most of us that reflex that can't help, on a dark night, walking along a lonely country lane, wondering, “What if there’s something out there?” And when we do, the collective cultural baggage of these tales of ghosts, ghouls and griffins is usually sufficient to make us put our hands over our eyes to block out what may just be lurking out there. But, then, we still peep.
Heroes in Action have a line of Presidential Monster action figures, including JFK as the Phantom of the White House, Mitt RomneyRonald Reagan as The Ronmy, GW Bush as Zombush, Bill Clinton as Wolf Bill, Richard Nixon as Monster from the Watergate Lagoon (my favorite of the bunch), Barack Obama as Baracula, and Abe Lincoln as Lincolnstein. They're $30 each or $165 for the set.
Zack sez, "Retronaut has a collection of the gloriously gross Topps Ugly Stickers from 1965. Just in time for the holidays!"
These were my favorite thing in the world when I was a kid. Marc Lieberman and I used to go and collect empty beer-bottles left behind by teenagers under the bleachers at Vanier Collegiate, then cash them in at Brewer's Retail at the Peanut Plaza for nickels, which we'd spend on these at the Mac's Milk. My bedroom door was covered in them. When my parents bought a new house and I had to leave my bedroom, I had to leave the door behind. I never recovered.
Artist Brian Ewing has produced a limited edition colorway print of his anatomical Frankenstein's monster poster. I love this work -- I gave my wife one of his bubblegum colorways of the Bride of Frankenstein for our anniversary, and I've just put the Frankenstein on my Xmas list (don't buy 'em all, OK?).
Ewing really went to town documenting the production process, with lots of interim shots linked from the post below.
Swan Galleries is auctioning off a collection of 139 old movie posters, including a lot of wonderful, monstrous film posters from around the world, in a collection called "Monsters with Maidens." The auction runs to Dec 18, and though there's plenty of very high-priced items, there are some bargains to be had, too.
Where did the European werewolf come from and why did this particular mythology become so powerful that we're still telling stories about it today?
In a fascinating talk recorded at Skepticon 5 last month, Deborah Hyde discusses the history of lycanthropy and its various roles in European society. Lycanthropy was more than one thing, Hyde explains. It functioned as a legitimate medical diagnosis — usually denoting some kind of psychotic break. It served as a placeholder to explain anything particularly horrific — like the case of a French serial killer. And, probably most importantly, lycanthropy went hand-in-hand with witchcraft as part of the Inquisition.
Hyde is the editor of The Skeptic magazine and she blogs about the cultural history of belief in the supernatural. As part of this talk, she's tracked down cases of werewolf trials in the 16th and 17th centuries and attempted to understand why people were charged with lycanthropy, what connected those cases to one another, and the role the trials played in the history of religious liberty. Great stuff!
The fabulous Singularity & Co bookstore (where they find out-of-print sf classics, clear the rights to them, and bring them back as CC-licensed books) is finally selling its beautiful "Boom Tee" online, designed by Wesley Allsbrook. I saw this at NY Comic Con and wanted desperately to blog it then -- glad to see it online at last!
Fables creator Bill Willingham continues his impossible run of prolific, high-quality, highly varied stories based on the idea that all the fables, myths and stories of the world are secretly true, and that they all live together, hidden among the real, "mundy" world. The hardcover Werewolves tells the back-story of Bibgy Wolf -- his time as a crack Nazi-hunting guerrilla in the dark forests of Germany. This past comes back to haunt him when he discovers a midwestern town populated entirely by werewolves that have been created by a beautiful, ruthless Nazi scientist who isolated a serum from blood that Bigby left behind when he helped foil a Nazi attempt to revive Frankenstein's monster to fight on their side.
Werewolves draws on the likes of EC Comics' Two-Fisted Tales and other hyper-violent war comics, with plenty of gory decapitations, ruthless executions, suicides, immolations, and tough talk. It's just the right kind of story for Bigby, who's one of the best characters from Fables, which has lots of terrific characters to choose from. The book could conceivably stand alone -- it has its own complete storyline -- but it's much richer in the context of the wider Fables universe.
Perpetual Kid sells a $4.50 cartoon vampire ketchup-bottle lid called "Count Ketchup Spread." Affix it and squeeze the bottle, and the ketchup drips out of his fangs. There's also a mustard version: it's an alien head that oozes mustard out of its mouth. Barfstard!
Our hard plastic Count Ketchup Spread Head is a universal cap size that fits most standard upright ketchup bottles and measures 1.75 inches long x 2.5 inches wide x 1 inch deep. To keep your condiments fresh and to prevent contamination, use the original cap for storage.