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Nessie

The Loch Ness Monster (or Nessie for short) is one of the most elusive cryptids in modern folklore.  In fact, the Loch Ness monster is so elusive, we have only one confirmed sighting on our shelves here in Special Collections.  It comes in the form of The Loch Ness Monster Watchers, a 1974 essay by Victor Perera about an expedition he and a collegue took to Loch Ness in Scotland to try to spot Nessie for themselves.Loch Ness Monster Watchers

Many theories about the Loch Ness Monster exist in modern legends.  One of the most common theories surrounding the Loch Ness Monster is that Nessie is some form of plesiosaur, whose line has somehow survived into modern times within the loch.   This image from Robert McCann’s short comic “Ocean Blues”, featured in Disappointing Circus, shows such a creature.  You can certainly see the family resemblance.

Disappointing Circus

Whether or not you believe in Nessie or think it’s all just a hoax, the legend continues to be a huge draw for cryptozoologists, adventurers, and the simply curious, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creature.  If you can’t afford the trip to Scotland to seek out Nessie for yourself, come see us at Special Collections, where you can read all about one such a trip and decide for yourself – is the Loch Ness Monster real or just wishful thinking?

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Demons

Faust

To finish out October, here’s an extra special Halloween edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Special Collections.  Today’s featured beast is the demon, which is usually defined as an evil spirit or fiend.  Nearly every religion has a form of demons that populate whatever version of Hell that particular religion believes in, often trying to influence the people of our world into committing evil acts and causing general chaos.  Mephistopheles (pictured above) is one of the more well-known demons and is the one that Faust sells his soul to in the legend of Faustus, recorded most famously by Goethe.

Dante's Inferno Dante's Inferno 2

In other classic literature, this edition of Dante’s Inferno illustrated by Gustave Dore beautifully shows some of the residents of Hell that Dante and Virgil encounter on their journey through the nine circles of Hell.

Midnight Watch

This image depicts a scene from the Russian folk tale The Soldier’s Midnight Watch, in which a soldier hides on top of the stove while an undead witch summons a crowd of small demons to search him out.

Fray

In more modern media, demons have taken on other roles as well, such as in the comic Fray by Joss Whedon, in which the demon Urkonn plays trainer to a futuristic vampire slayer named Melaka Fray.

Demon of the Eiffel Tower

A more light-hearted take on a demon occurs in The Demon of the Eiffel Tower, an English translation of a French comic in which Adele Blanc-Sec solves mysteries and has grand adventures in a fantasy version of the 1900s.  (Spoiler Alert:  in true Scooby-Doo style, the demon is eventually revealed to be a woman with a nefarious plot in a costume.)

A Season in Hell

 

Switching from comics to poetry, the above image is from Arthur Rimbaud’s collection of poems entitled A Season in Hell.  With several photographs like this by Robert Mapplethorpe, this edition of Rimbaud’s poetry certainly takes an added turn for the creepy.

 

Demons, imps, & fiends Demons, imps, & fiends

Speaking of creepy, these terrifying creatures are from Leonard Baskin’s work Demons, Imps, and Fiends.  The rest of the book is filled with drawings of demons you definitely wouldn’t want to meet on the street at night, much less enter into any form of agreement with.

Happy Halloween everyone!  If you need help getting into the spirit of the holiday, come see us in Special Collections.  Our stacks are haunted by books with all kinds of creatures guaranteed to help.

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Vampires Suck

Stoker's Dracula

(Your blood, that is.)  How does one even begin to write about vampires with any sort of completeness?  Every culture’s got one – some version of a creature that rises from the dead and preys on the life force of the living (either the blood or something more abstract, such as energy or the soul) to sustain itself.  Reflecting this, Dracula and his brethren abound on the shelves of Special Collections – particularly our comics collection where the dramatic nature of the vampire lends itself perfectly to a graphic medium.

While vampires have been around for ages, it was Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula that made them much more prevalent in literature and popular culture.  In more modern times, vampires’ popularity has spiked again with television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and bestselling book series like Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlene Harris.

Let’s start with Dracula then, shall we?

Stoker's DraculaStoker's Dracula Stoker's Dracula

This 2004 adaption of Stoker’s Dracula presents the comic in a dramatic black and white contrast that plays up the drama of the story.

Blood of Dracula

Another series featuring the Count is Apple Comics’s Blood of Dracula, where each issue contains an installment of three different stories featuring Dracula in his own time, in the future, and anywhere in between.  This issue even comes with a record of songs composed to supplement the stories!Blood of Dracula RecordNot to be outdone, Warp Graphics (which later turned over most of its titles to Apple Comics) pitted Dracula against Jack the Ripper in its 1986 mini-series Blood of the Innocent.

Blood of the Innocent

In addition to its large spread in comics, the story of Dracula has also been taken to the stage over the years, as seen in these scenes from a 1978 production of Dracula starring Frank Langella as the titular feind and famous illustrator Edward Gorey designing the scenery and costumes. Dracula

Stoker wasn’t the only one to write about vampires, though.  Folk stories teemed with different versions of the vampire.  This image from a book of Russian folk tales shows the warlock from the tale “The Soldier and The Vampire” who comes back from the dead each night to terrorize a town by cursing a newlywed couple and drawing their blood until he is outwitted and killed by a clever soldier.

The Soldier and The Vampire

In modern vampire culture, many vampires choose to live among us and forgo the drinking of human blood for that of animals.  Two such “vegetarian” vampires are main characters in Vertigo’s series Blood + Water.  Adam Heller, a man slowly dying of AIDS finds out his friends are actually vampires when they turn him into one to cure him and save his life.

Blood + Water

Men aren’t the only ones to play large roles in vampire stories.  Vampirella, the vampire superheroine from the planet Drakulon, fights evil vampires on our world in an effort to save her own.  She appears in a number of comic series and a direct to video movie.
Vampirella Classic #1

Vampirella Classic #3

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series was adapted by Marvel in 2006.  The leading lady, Anita Blake, lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri as a professional zombie raiser, vampire hunter, and consultant for the police’s supernatural department.

Anita Blake #3 Anita Blake Anita Blake #1

Including the scores of other stories both modern and old as Dracula himself, it’s clear that no matter what way you slice it, vampires have a powerful prescence in cultures throughout the world.  So this Halloween if you’re finding yourself going batty for vampires, come see us at Special Collections.  We’ve got plenty of vampire stories you can really sink your teeth into.

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