Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eldritch: Halloween 022

Okay, so last week, I discussed the somewhat un-academic initial idea behind the Eldritch world’s vamp-ghouls.  But, as with all ideas, good or bad, after the initial spark, the next thing to do is research.  Which, thankfully, isn’t all that hard for me, since ghouls tend to overlap both vampire and werewolf mythos in history and folklore.  And you all know I love to research monsters, especially werewolves.

I suppose the place to start is with the word “Ghoul.”  The word itself is derived from the Arabic “Ghul,” (masculine) and “Ghula” (Feminine), though, ghoulish entities can be found in folklore and myths pretty much worldwide.  General consensus states that ghouls are the undead, and eke out a nocturnal existence sustained by eating the flesh of corpses.  However, not all myths follow that stereotype.  Some sources say that ghouls will eat the flesh of the living and the dead (I presume they, well, kill their food before eating it, after all).  In fact, one Arabic myth has a ghoul who is ‘drop-dead’ gorgeous... 

According to the tale, a merchant’s son snubbed the ugly daughter of another merchant to marry a beautiful sage’s daughter.  However, he soon found that his new bride would refuse to eat… and spied on her as she left their bed at night, and along with several other ghouls, would go to the cemetery and devour the dead.  He confronted her about her unseemly dining habits the next day (I mean really, he had to kiss that mouth), and she retaliated that evening by going for his throat, trying to open a vein and get his blood. (Vampire, anyone?)  The man killed her in self-defense, but three days later, she returned from the grave and tried to kill him again.  The man had to resort of taking her corpse from her tomb the next day, burning the body, and scattering the ashes in the Tigris river, destroying her forever.

Well.  No wonder evil spirits and such dislike running water, and some sources say that ghouls are spirits inhabiting the body of the living or dead.  A symbol of life, many spirits cannot pass running water… remember <I>A Legend of Sleepy Hollow?</I>  It likely wasn’t the bridge that deterred the headless horseman, but the running water underneath it.  And in some European folklore, vampires, if lured into running water, will drown.  Curiously, water is also used in werewolf cures, some of these cures being as simple as bathing in running water, or even rolling in dewy grass!

Which brings us to werewolves’ connections to ghouls.  One of the more popularized stories involving lycanthropy and ghoulish behavior is that of Sgt. Bertrand.  Way back in 1847, this man would prowl French graveyards and eat freshly buried corpses.  Those who saw him in these ghoulish fits would describe him as part human, part animal.  To the common eye, it appeared as if an animal had dug up the dead.  However, the bites on the corpses appeared human.  Eventually, Bertrand was caught, and he claimed that he was a werewolf, who underwent a metamorphosis while sleeping and then went to consume the dead.  Better than eating the living, I suppose.

Curiously enough, the idea of a corpse-eating werewolf is strikingly similar to the lupins/lubins of Normandy.  Not only are they the subjects in one of my all-time favorite werewolf pieces: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KlhGXXWp7Sg/ThJmt5Lly2I/AAAAAAAAD4s/LOP1hCuZtSE/s1600/LesLupinsMauriceSand.jpg (I made so many transcriptions of this when I was younger) but they were known for hanging out outside graveyards, talking to one another in an unknown tongue and howling at the moon.  And what did they eat?  Corpses. 

Today, Zombies, which as Seamus stated back in Layline, differ greatly from the original ones, who were created by voudun practitioners.  Depending on what you read, the drug cocktail administered by the voudun practitioner would cause a deathlike state, from which the victim would later recover from, making it appear as though the practitioner could control corpses.  Of course, this has lead to some exploitation…  read more here: http://io9.com/5875109/read-a-real+life-medical-report-on-three-cases-of-haitian-zombies  Other sources say that zombies are true corpses that have been reanimated. However, modern zombies have basically taken the same general niche that the ghoul had in the past.

However… Ghoul is, in some cases, simply a synonym for a monster… such as the owl-faced “ghouls” of Garden State Parkway, or the long-tailed, mine-dwelling “ghoul” of Great Falls.

Who knows what they may become or be replaced by in the future?

You know the drill.  Read these books:

Monster! The A-Z of Zooform Phenomena – Neil Arnold
Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside – Brad Steiger
The Werewolf in Lore and Legend --Montague Summers
The Werewolf Book --Brad Steiger
The Complete Book of Werewolves --Leonard Ashley
Werewolves (Around the world) --Elliot O’Donnell
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters --Rosemary Guiley

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eldritch: Halloween 021

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Happy Year of the Dragon everyone!Buuut, back to the comic… Nope, they’re not zombies! But they used to be vampiiiires!

So… the origin of this is.. well, kind of dumb.  While, for this particular bit I wish I could point to some folklore (aside from Barber, Vampires, Burial and Death, p. 197.  Where it's stated that vampires need blood to sustain their body’s exixtance.) The truth is, this has little to do with the initial idea.  You see, when I was a wee little thing, my dad had an Intellivision.  We had a few games, like Shark-Shark, Utopia, and Frogger.  But, one of the games we had was Dracula.  In the game, some of the people you bit turned different colors and, according to my dad, became ghouls.  Now, I knew a little about vampires at that time… that if you were bitten by a vampire then you became one.  Ghouls were a new concept for me, so, in my tiny little girl brain, I just kind of figured they were kind of like baby vampires and would be real vampires if they ate someone.

For Eldritch, however, I took that idea and inversed it. Because, well.. honestly, being a vampire would be far less appealing if you had to start out as a nasty ikky ghoul, right? Right. That and… I mean really, what would happen if a vampire didn’t feed? Becoming a rotting corpse/ghoul/zombie makes sense to me.

So… yeah. Blame the Intellivision for this one folks. More talk about the undead next week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Eldritch: Halloween 020

Well, Faith, I don’t think this is a guy in a mask…  There’s a lot I wanna say, but I think It’d be best to leave it till next week’s update.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eldritch: Halloween 019

You know, the bottlecap thing was something I heard as a kid.  We had some weird stories.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eldritch: Halloween 018

Part of me seriously considered letting them walk past the graveyard. But where would the fun in that be?