Halloween monster drawings, day 2: Jenny Haniver!
These little monsters will tear the bottom out of a fishing boat and pull you down into the watery depths, but they’re also pretty easy to catch. Fisherman used to dry them out and sell them to tourists in port cities.
October Monster Drawings #7: Jiang Shi, that Chinese hopping vampire zombie thing!
October Monster Drawing #12: Ghost Rider in the Sky!
Their faces gaunt, the eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat
They’re ridin’ hard to catch that heard but they ain’t caught ‘em yet
For they’ve got to ride forever on that range up in the sky
On horses snortin’ fire
As they ride on hear their cry
October Monster Drawing #13: Hopkinsville Goblin!
These little guys cause all sorts of mischief in my hometown back in the 1950s, and have the distinction of being the cryptids/aliens(?) with the most witnesses to their existence, including police and fire departments.
The air force investigation suggested that the most likely explanation was that the farms had been attacked by escaped, shaved circus monkeys that had been painted silver(?????).
UFO enthusiasts have latched on to the alien theory, but I always figured that they were Tommyknockers driven surfaceside by strip mining.
October Monster Drawings #14: Transformed Vampire!
From the truly terrifying 1926 novella “The Call of Cthulhu,” by H.P. Lovecraft. Super giant underwater monster awakened after centuries of slumber. I can’t remember if the book describes it as being green, that’s sort of the default color folks generally use when drawing it. If not, I’m lazy!
October Monster Drawing #17: Florida Skunk Ape! Or Florida Swamp Ape. Different folks call it different things. Me, I reckon that, like the monkeys of Silver Springs*, it was an animal (I’m guessing an orangutan, or more than one) left or escaped during the filming of a B jungle picture and set up shop along I-75. Though I also dig the idea that it’s an indigenous species that attacked conquistadors when they came to close to the fabled fountain, Either way, Pee-yoo!
*yes, I know the Tooey version of the monkey story, I prefer the Tarzan version, anachronistic though it may be)
October Monster Drawing #9: The Grunch!
Story goes like this: You’re out driving, you see a goat, you think “hot dog, that goat would make good eating!” You stop the car, and you’re never seen again - eaten by the Grunch.
Don’t stop for the goat!
We called it the Grunch, but I had a friend who called it the Vampire Goat, and a teacher that called it the Devil Baby.
There have been a variety of narratives for the Grunch legend, and most of them revolve around a community of folks pressured to leave New Orleans because of some unusual genetic trait - dwarfism, albinism, stuff common enough to occur with some frequency but uncommon enough to cause distress to the population of superstitious pirate descendants. These folks banded together outside New Orleans. Now there are a few different versions of how they came to be involved with the Grunch. One (which I don’t like because of how it cartoonizes and demonizes the outcasts) is that after a few generations of inbreeding there’s a terrible cannibal kid genetically adapted to living in the swamps and hungry for human blood. The other popular take is that, consistently oppressed and occasionally attacked by New Orleans folk, the community either 1. prayed to god for OR 2. asked a vodou priestess to give them a guardian. God or the priestess obliged, and whenever someone travels the road to the settlement intent on doing the outcasts harm, they see the goat on the roadside.
So here’s my take on the Grunch: a breed of long-legged (there’s fossil precedent for this), tall crested alligator that can be mistaken for a goat in poor light.
more-like-a-justice-league asked: My Shazam collection is disappointingly slim, any suggestions on which volumes to add to my shelf?
As I mentioned, there’s very little I don’t like so take all of this as you will. The original Fawcett stuff can be hard to find in its entirety, though the DC Archives collections of those aren’t bad if you can find them. That giant hardcover collection of the original Monster Society of Evil is great if you’ve got money pouring out of your ears, which I don’t yet I’ve got one anyway. There’s a Showcase Presents collection of the first DC stuff from the 70s, which is alright. There’s a few single issues of pre-90s DC stuff here and there that I really like, which I’d have to look up later. I really enjoyed what Jerry Ordway did in the Power of Shazam graphic novel, and then later in his run with Peter Krause. Same goes for the Jeff Smith Monster Society of Evil.
What I’m saying is that I like everything.
The bad news is, there is very little of the Fawcett material available in print, and what is available in the DC Archives is the chronologically earliest stuff, which is not quite representative of what the Marvel Family becomes in terms of fun and innovative storytelling. Hopefully next year’s 75th anniversary hardcover will have some good stories in there, but I wouldn’t expect more than a handful of the Golden Age stuff. A reprint of the Monster Society of Evil, however, is unlikely, due to some problematic portrayals of race within the story.
The good news is this: while the Marvel Family characters are all property of DC Comics, the original Fawcett comics themselves are actually in the public domain, and as such are available to read for free online.
The Marvel Family material spans several titles and so can be hard to keep up with, but here’s a quick guide:
- You can follow Captain Marvel himself in Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures
- You can follow Captain Marvel Jr in Master Comics starting with issue 21 and then in his own title
- You can follow Mary Marvel in Wow Comics starting with issue 9 and then in her own title
- You can follow the whole Marvel Family in Marvel Family
- You can follow Hoppy the Marvel Bunny in Fawcett’s Funny Animals and then in his own title
Generally the anthology titles (Whiz/Master/Wow) feature one story with Cap or Mary or Jr or whoever, while the rest of the book features stories with other Fawcett characters such as Bulletman. The books whose titles are the characters’ names tend to be whole books of that individual character.
Hope that helps! If you’re a maniac like me, you probably want to try to read these books in publication order, in which case the Grand Comics Database is an essential resource.