Tuesday, February 11, 2020

News...


Just a quick update! I hope you all enjoyed the Charles Saunders & Ursula K. Le Guin creatures from the beginning of the year. I'll be taking a 3 week break from monsters to work on some commissions but I already have a weeks work drawn. Hint: it's gonna be a grab bag of creeps inspired by some of my favorite contemporary authors! 

Outer Dark logo by Nick Gucker

I can also announce that I'll be attending the Outer Dark Symposium 2020 in Atlanta in late March! I'm very excited (it's been a long time since I've been to GA and my first time in ATL) to see all the amazing authors and artists represented, hear what the insightful things they have to say and to hang out with them as friends! I'll be bringing some reprints of older zines as well as a few brand new ones, (including one not available online). Stay tuned for more details!

Friday, February 7, 2020

WINDSTEED

WINDSTEED
"The beast that bore her now down from the hills of Hallan was of finer breed, striped coat fitting sleek over hollow, buoyant bones, green eyes slitted against the wind, light and mighty wingssweeping up and down to either side of Semley, revealing and hiding, revealing and hiding the clouds above her and the hills below." 


"The striped windsteed rose and stalked softly on thick, hollow-boned legs to the water's edge."
"'Windsteeds!' Then he looked up and saw them, three great gryphon-cats circling down up on them, claws outstretched, wings black against the hot blue sky."
"Half-starved and overladen, the wind-steed gasped at each lift and downbeat of its great barred wings."Ursula K. Le Guin, Rocannon's World




Thursday, February 6, 2020

HERON


HERON"The Victorian heron was not a heron; it was not even a bird. To describe their new world the exiles had had only words from their old world. The creatures that lived by the pools, one pair to a pool, were stilt-legged, pale-gray fish eaters: so they were herons. The first generation had known that they were not really herons, that they were not birds, nor reptiles, nor mammals. The following generations did not know what they were not, but did, in a way, know what they were. They were herons."
"Silent, angular, elegant, they nested in the drifts of red leaves among the roots, and fished for water creatures in the shallows, and gazed across the pool at human beings with large, round eyes as colorless as water."
"Like the gray heron of the Meeting Pool, there was a silence in her, a silence that drew him, drew him aside, toward a different center."Ursula K. Le Guin, The Eye Of the Heron



Wednesday, February 5, 2020

POUCHBAT


POUCHBAT

"Hari watched him with benign amusement, as if he were a pouchbat." 

"Once every eight or ten years they flowered and bore a small edible fruit, the seeds of which were excreted by wotsits, pouchbats, farfallies, tree-coneys, and other fruit lovers."
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Eye Of the Heron


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

CONEY


CONEY
"The biggest herbivvore was the coney, a fat slow rabbity beast with fine waterproof scales all over it."

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Eye Of the Heron


Monday, February 3, 2020

OTAK


OTAK
“These creatures are found only on four southern isles of the Archipelago, Roke, Ensmer, Pody and Without. They are small and sleek, with broad face, and fur dark brown or brindle, and great bright eyes. Their teeth are cruel and their temper fierce, so they are not made pets of. They have no call or cry or any voice. Ged stroked this one, and it woke and yawned, showing a small brown tongue and white teeth, but was not afraid. ‘Otak,’ he said and then remembering the thousand names of beasts he had learned in the Tower he called it by its true name in the Old Speech, ‘Hoeg! Do you want to come with me?’”
Ursula K Le Guin, The Wizard Of Earthsea


Friday, January 31, 2020

LARVA

LARVA

"The biggest predator was the larva, red-eyed and shark-toothed, half a meter long. In captivity larvas bit and screeched in insane frenzy till they died."
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Eye Of the Heron


Thursday, January 30, 2020

WOTSIT

WOTSIT
"And there, materializing like a wotsit out of nothing, and like a wotsit humpbacked, beady-eyed, and vaguely feathery, there was her duenna, Cousin Lores, who she thought had given up and gone home half an hour ago."

"Then with a hop or flight too quick for the eye to follow, it transferred itself to Luz's palm, and she felt the grip of six warm, tiny, wiry feet."


"The wotsit was now turning blue, the pure, azure blue of the sky between the peaks of the Eastern Range on days, like this day, of winter sunlight. The three gold pinhead eyes glittered. The wings bright and translucent, shot out, startling Luz."
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Eye Of the Heron


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

ALDEBARANIAN


ALDEBARANIAN
“It was, Haber thought in emotionless horror, a giant turtle. Then he realized that it was encased in a suit of some kind, which gave it a bulky, greenish, armored inexpressive look like a giant sea turtle standing on its hind legs.”
“A flat, toneless voice came out of the elbow joint.”“The figure whirred a little, raised its left elbow over its head (which, turtle-like, hardly protruded above the great sloped shoulders of the carapace), and said, ‘Please excuse’”“The Alien, though neckless and waistless, gave an impression of bowing, and passed on, huge and greenish above the gray-faced crowd.”“A huge form emerged, seeming to float forward slowly, silent and reptilian: the proprietor was an Alien.”“It raised its crooked left elbow and said, ‘Good day. Do you wish an object?’”Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe Of Heaven


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

SCURE

SCURE

"I thought it was a man at first. Like a man. But it wasn't much bigger than a coney, when it went down on all fours. Dark-colored, with a reddish head--a big head, seemed too big for the rest of it. A center eye, like a wotsit, looking at me. Eyes on the sides too, I think, but I couldn't see it clear enough."

"Scures?"
"Old stories. Creatures like men, with glaring eyes, hairy. My father said they were men--exiles, or men who had wandered off, crazy men, gone wild."

Ursula K. Le Guin, They Eye Of the Heron


Monday, January 27, 2020

FARFALLIE

FARFALLIE
"Only the bright-winged farfallies and the wotsits ever consented to come near. Caged, a farfallie folded its wings and died; but if you put out honey for it, it might set up housekeeping on your roof, constructing there the little nest-like rain-cup in which, being semiaquatic, it slept."
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Eye Of the Heron



Monday, January 20, 2020

Finally....Le Guin


As well as discovering and falling in love with the work of Charles Saunders last year, I also finally dove into the work of Ursula K. Le Guin....and fell in love with her work the same way I fell for Saunders' work. 



In 2019 I read 7 of her novels, a short story collection and a small book of interviews and essays. The Earthsea books really blew me away and the Lathe Of Heaven was equally astonishing. Even when I didn't like her work (Orsinian Tales) I at least appreciated her ideas and her always interesting approach to telling a story. Le Guin's worst is better than most people's best. 

So starting on the 27th of January, there will be two weeks worth of creatures inspired by the works of Le Guin. While you may think the dragons of Earthsea would be at the top of my list, I was much more taken with the alien fauna of The Eye Of the Heron (I've also never really cared much for dragons...too much expectation. Plus I've already done one). The animals that have earthbound names only because they vaguely resembled the creatures from colonists home world. A heron, isn't really a heron....it's just the word that first comes to mind when you see this spindly otherworldy creature. 

I would also highly recommend the documentary The Worlds Of Ursula K. Le Guin (directed by former Maximum Rock N Roll editor/coordinator Arwen Curry). Given Le Guin's lush imagination and personal politics, it's honestly about time I got around to drawing some creeps based on her work. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

ERRITEN


ERRITEN
"Chitendu was even more inhuman than his resurrected minions. His elephantine legs rose from the ground like wrinkled tree trunks. Long, bony arms hung like sticks from a pair of narrow, knobby shoulders. The hands at their ends were incongruously delicate and graceful. Other than his head, those hands were the only human features Chitendu had left."

"His torso was worst of all: a mass of tendrils that seemed imbued with a life independent from that of the rest of his hideous form. Like a swarm of maggots infesting a rotted carcass, the tendrils writhed, expanding and contracting in their anchors of grotesque alien tissue. They glowed green, like fungus."

"With both hands he plunged his simi deep into Chitendu's bulbous torso."
Charles R. Saunders, Imaro


Thursday, January 16, 2020

KYAGGATH


KYAGGATH
"It stood upright on bent froglike legs with huge webbed feet, and its body was a round lumpy mass of gray green slime. From the misshapen body protruded not arms but six octopus-like tentacles, tho of which were already wrapped around Imaro's body."

"It was the thing's face, however, that was its most horrible aspect. Half froglike, half hideously anthropomorphic, that face was dominated by a wide slash of a mouth filled with row upon row of needle fangs. Its eyes were lambent green, and burned with both intelligence and an eternal hatred and contempt for all things human. The creature was a Kyaggath, the last of its demon-spawned kind."

"From tiny pores on the underside of its tentacles, a virulent venom began to trickle. The effect was immediate; wherever the tentacles touched, white-hot pain shot through Imaro's body."

Charles R. Saunders, The Pool Of the Moon



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

KHODUMODUMO


KHODUMODUMO
"Gaping in disbelief, the goatherd watched as something glistening and huge lapped over the side of the defile. Shapeless, featureless, limbless...the thing heaved yard after yard of pearlescent bulk onto the pasture. With frightening speed, several protuberances shot from the main body of the thing toward the terrified animals."

"But slits in the pseudopods suddenly gaped open like great, vertical mouths, and engulfed the goats like gigantic snakes."
Charles R. Saunders, Khodumodumo


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TUYABENE


TUYABENE
"A moment later, the river's surface erupted, and the tuyabene leaped out of the water and charged toward the haramia. The river demons were man shaped, but their resemblance to humankind was only superficial, for the knees of their long legs bent backwards. Yet they moved with lethal speed and grace. Their slippery, naked skin was the color of the soil at the river's bottom. Elongated jaws gaped wide, exposing rows of needle-sharp teeth."

"From the first fingers of their hand hand the first toes of their feet grew long, hooklike claws that ended in joints that were as sharp as the tip of a dagger."
Charles R. Saunders, Imaro


Monday, January 13, 2020

AZUTH

AZUTH

"From the waist up, the creature the sculpure depicted resembled Ngagi, the gorilla, and animal of which Imaro had once caught glimpses in the Kajua forest, where the Mtumwe dwelled. However, the skin of this creature was hairless, and its wide mouth bore fangs that were even longer than those of the red panther Imaro had slain."

"It was the lower extremities of the unknown beasts's body that marked it as something alien to the world of natural life. Its legs were like those of the hindquarters of Mboa the buffalo--thick muscular haunches tapering to sharp, lethal hooves. A tail like that of the buffalo hung behind the creature. It was as though the halves of two separate creatures had somehow been melded into an appalling whole."
Charles R. Saunders, Imaro II: The Quest For Cush



Friday, January 10, 2020

N'TU-MCHAWI


N'TU-MCHAWI
"The n'tu-mchawi had dispensed with his cloak; his gaunt, blemished body was naked save for a strip of hide around his loins. Surely, the hideous apparition the Turkhana had become was not real...N'tu-mwaa's face had not really become the face of Ngatun the lion, and it could not be the horns of a ngombe that sprouted from the thick-maned skull--the horns of Kulu, still crusted with the blood of the Turkhana warrior she had wounded..."
Charles R. Saunders, Imaro


Thursday, January 9, 2020

MPAU


MPAU
"At first, the object appeared to be little more than a large ball of scales that glinted with the same green as the light of the sphere. Then the ball unfurled, and a creature rose on four bent, lizard-like legs."

"Its narrow, tube-like body was as long as a man's, and its whip-like tail longer still. Atop a neck that stretched far upward, the creature's head was mostly snout. Needle-like fangs protruded when it opened its mouth. Lambent green eyes stared at the soldiers for a moment."

"Xbo knew what the creature was - a mpau, a seeker, a creation of the Erriten, with a sense of smell keener than that of any natural animal, and extraordinary tracking abilities."
Charles R. Saunders, Imaro IV: The Naama War



Wednesday, January 8, 2020

WOYAYA

WOYAYA
"It was the head of a rhinoceros -- a small rhinoceros with skin as green as the water of the swamp and eyes like yellow fire-points. The teeth of a carnivore protruded from the open jaws of its head."

"The green body of the creature was more lizardlike than mammalian, yet its hide was smooth rather than scaly. Its limbs were longer than a lizard's would've been, and the paws that gripped the twisted limb of the tree resembled the hands and feet of an ape, each digit bearing a blunt claw. From it's two-horned snout the the end of its tapering tail, the rhinoceros-beast was about the size of a lion."

"The rhinoceros-headed ones are woyaya -- Death's guardians."
Charles R. Saunders, Death's Friend


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

MANGABAAN


MANGABAAN
"But the massive body was...divided"

"Its left half was human, although the skin was the marbled gray hue of a corpse left to rot in the sun. The head was hairless, with a vacantly staring eye, a single, wide-flaring nostril and a truncated slash for a mouth. The arm, leg and half the torso were thick with muscle, but those thews were buried beneath slack skin."

The right half was...horror. Pale, pitted stone tinged green by the mysterious luminescence composed the other side of the creature's body. Replicas of eye, nose and mouth were crudely delineated on the stone side in a mocking mirror of the human half of the amalgam. Part flesh, part stone--it was as though a man had been sliced in half, with the missing part replaced by a poorly sculpted replacement of rock."
Charles R. Saunders, Imaro II: The Quest For Cush


Monday, January 6, 2020

ISIKUKUMADEVU


ISIKUKUMADEVU
"Isikukumadevu was an enormous, squatting lump with a swollen, melon-like head that bore jaws similar to those of a hippopotamus. Pale, fishlike eyes glared chillingly beneath a tangled mane of mossy filaments that only slightly resembled hair. Mottled grayish skin covered her naked, bloated body. Multiple breasts that were huge sacs of flesh spilled slackly over an abdomen that was grossly distended. Huge arms tapered into incongruously delicate hands that clenched in anticipation as Isikukumadevu scrutinized her latest prey."

"Imaro still betrayed no reaction. Isikukumadevu grinned then, her mouth stretching wide, showing rows of peglike, grinding teeth."
Charles R. Saunders, Imaro


"We close our supernatural safari with a look at Isikukumadevu, a Zulu variation of the swallowing monster theme. Isikukumadevu is a huge, bloated, mossy creature that once lived in a river that no longer exists. As the proper form of address for Isikukumadevu is Madame Monster, it is safe to assume that she is female. Politeness is indeed a virtue when dealing with a swallowing-monster; once Isikukumadevu ingested an entire village because one of its inhabitants offended her!"
Charles R. Saunders, Out Of Africa essay Dragon Magazine #122


Sunday, January 5, 2020

NEW POSTS FOR 2020!!!


Starting tomorrow I'll be returning from a hiatus to bring you 2 weeks worth of monsters from the godfather of Sword and Soul, Charles Saunders. If you follow me on Instagram you've probably noticed I've been obsessed with Saunders' work this year. It started out with a short story in the Daw anthology Amazons! that featured his (surprisingly dora milaje-esqe) female warrior Dossouye. I was taken with how he wrote action sequences and his excellent and new (to me) take on monsters (a mixture of pulp cosmic horror and continent wide African mythology). 

I searched his name and discovered he wrote the Imaro series (Saunders' take on a heroic fantasy character set in a fictional Africa) but that it's popular success/exposure was hindered due to some pretty unforgivable publisher mistakes. However, when you find someone that has gotten their hands on these stories, they fucking love them. LOVE them. I dove in and the same thing happened to me. Imaro is like Conan or Kane but with a more thought out, well organized arc that spans 4 novels. Whereas Howard's Conan tales dip in and out of the heroes life without consideration for continuity, Imaro is on a quest and and we follow him from beginning to end. He also has more personality. He's got weaknesses, he's got friends and traveling companions (with backstories of their own), he's got loss, he's got passion and we see him learn.  I was prosthelytizing to anyone who would listen. Everyone needed to read Saunders. Especially the Imaro stories. 

In total I've read all 9 of Saunders' novels, one collection of short stories and 8 stories I've tracked down in zines and anthologies. And in those stories I've found monsters. Oh, the monsters I've found. I can't wait to show you the wizard with vitiligo who gets a lion's head and a waterbuffalo's ears and horns. Or the mangabaan that are split down the middle half man, half rock. There's also the azuth that's like a centaur if the top was a gorilla and the bottom was a buffalo. HOLY SHIT there's so many. It starts tomorrow. Get ready.

ALSO, for your own sake, go read some Saunders!
Imaro
Dossouye
Abengoni
Damballa