Thursday, July 28, 2011


I like rabbits and scary movies, but this is taking things a bit far.

I personally think a chicken suit would be more sinister. Arguably, more people eat chicken than eat rabbit - so it's easier to see the poetic justice in a chickenman eating humans.

Ah well. The reviewers at Horror Happy Hour liked it, so it can't be too bad... right?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Grotesque Alphabet #2

Another series of engravings, this time depicting a "lower case alphabet with grotesque figures."

The prints were made by Israhel van Meckenem in approx 1465-1475, and he copied them from Master ES, a German engraver and draughtsman also of the 15th century.

Sadly the British Museum database states that no complete series of these prints is known, so we only have a few to admire. I did, however, chase up a few more prints by Master ES (via Meckenem), including this awesome playing card, the "ace of helmets":

I'm not entirely sure what this is - I just know that I love it! Extreme body hair + tentacles + cudgel is a definite winner in my book. The description calls him a "wild man," which I suppose is fitting.

You can see more prints inspired by Master ES here, but I think the one above is the best.

I also found a nice collection of 'grotesque masks' on the database. This one is my favourite so far:

Aloisio Giovannoli (1550 - 1618) was an Italian printmaker and miniaturist who did a whole bunch of mask engravings. I appreciate this one in particular, because it's worn by a lady. Where is she going in a mask like that? Maybe a monster masquerade? I like it.

Ah well, back to work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Sponge

I'm feeling guilty about posting less frequently. But seriously, this is an accurate depiction of my brain right now:


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Grotesque Alphabet #1

These prints are from a series of late 16th century engravings called 'Grotesque alphabet in mythological landscapes' by Giacomo Paolini. Not only do they incorporate the hybrid aesthetic of the early grotesque style (very popular at the time) but each is framed by ornamental designs and features a mythological background scene.

For instance, behind the letter H, "Hercules enters the inferno of Cerberus":

I love these. They have so much character and detail. Well worth a closer look. I found them on the British Museum's online database, where you can see more letters from the series.

Alternatively, one YouTube user has made a slide-show of all the letters.

Paolini's is not the only self-proclaimed 'grotesque alphabet' around - hence the #1 in the title. Plenty more alphabetic goodness to be had. (I guess this includes Grotext, but I'm still not entirely sure what that's about.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

My reading binge continues apace this month.

This book is my latest find.

I always think of vampires, werewolves and zombies as the 'big three' of Gothic monstrosity. Sure, ghosts and spirits have their place, and mummies can be scary, but there is something visceral about these creatures.

[Lycaon by Hendrik Goltzius. From Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book I. Via]

[Varney the Vampire (1847). Artist Unknown. Via]

I've read more vampire books than I can count, plus a smaller but still respectable number of werewolf tales. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan might be the first zombie story I've ever read. This says more about me than it does about the state of zombie literature. I've realised that I get my zombie fix from films, and have neglected to look for them on the library shelves.

No longer shall this travesty continue. I have seen the light. Or rather, the darkness. Forest is aimed at YA readers, but it's quite exciting and gross enough to entertain anyone. It is resolutely contemporary, featuring a post-apocalyptic setting and a biomedical origin story (zombies are infected with a virus, rather than possessed). The heroine is sometimes irritating, but you have to cut her some slack. She lives in sea of undead, after all:

"I have seen such horror and such grotesqueness that it never occurred to me that I would feel light-headed and weak-kneed when I saw Travis's injury. One couldn't grow up surrounded by the Forest and not see the most dreadful sights - the Unconsecrated with their hollow skin ripped and gaping from the wounds that caused the infection, their fingers cracked and broken from clawing at the fences, limbs attached by nothing more than gristle" (40-41).

I see my favourite word in there.


On a related note: if you are interested in zombies, Gothic monsters, science fiction or this movie you can read my thoughts on all these things in Gothic Science Fiction: 1980-2010, edited by Sara Wasson and Emily Alder. In addition to my zombie chapter, this collection includes a whole bunch of essays looking at the intersection of Gothic and science fiction in film, comics, literature and more. I think the book is coming out later this year, but meanwhile you can admire the lovely cover here.

Shameless plug over...

Sweet dreams.