Your Favorite Monster

I’m “in the zone.” I’ve “jumped a train.” I’m hanging on to the story while it charges ahead.

The sequel to Auralia’s Colors has the tentative title Cyndere’s Midnight. And I’m going to be writing it on lunch breaks, coffee breaks, evenings, and weekends between now and the end of June.

It’s a “fairy tale for grownups”… a sort of Pan’s Labyrinth meets The Island of Dr. Moreau meets… um, would you believe Three Colors: Blue?

Anyway, here’s how you can help:

Tell me about your favorite monster.

A literary creature. A big-screen monster. It could be the Abominable Snowman. It could be Snuffaluffagus. It could be Hannibal Lecter. It could be John Carpenter’s The Thing. Something Stephen King wrote about. Mr. Hyde. Frankenstein. It could be Davey Jones from Dead Man’s Chest.

Which monster is the most interesting? The most disturbing? The most endearing? Why?

Your answers will inspire me, because I’m writing about a lot of monsters right now. It would do me some good to revisit some of the greatest.

And by the way, speaking of great monsters, I want to take a moment to remember Lloyd Alexander, the storyteller who created The Horned King. Alexander passed away last Friday. Here’s my note of appreciation.

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  • A friend sent me this comment several months ago and I forgot to post it:

    Hey Jeff. I took a graduate course on monsters. Most of my books are still in boxes, so I’ll see what I can track down on the web…

    and if you like lists:

    There is one tradition that has the children of Cain spawning the nephilim, giants, and other monstrous, horned races.

    There’s Dante and Milton, and Pilgrim’s Progress.

    The Nowell Codex is worth looking at. It is one of the most famous Anglo-Saxon manuscripts – one of the earliest we have. In addition to the earliest known copy of Beowulf, it contains several other pieces that explore monsters: Marvels of the East, the book of Judith, the life of Saint Christopher, and the letter of Alexander to Aristotle. Here are some of the kinds of monsters listed in the Nowell Codex:

    There is much discussion out there about what constitutes monstrosity and the motivations to depict or personify fear, curiosity, lust for power, deformity, racism, violence, sin, the transgression of rules, the transgression of boundaries and other forms of brokenness. Even studying the impulse to study monsters can be fascinating.

    One of my favorite veins is the depiction of monsters in ancient maps. If you are ever in England, be sure to stop by the Hereford Cathedral and see the Hereford Mappa Mundi – one of the most intricate, fascinating of medieval maps. It is less interested in topography than it is in mapping world-view, knowledge, the limits of knowledge.

    It is a kind of medieval map of spiritual and physical understanding. In many ways, it is a worshipful map, and was made to hang in a prominent place in a cathedral to facilitate knowledge, memory, and worship in the laymen who were unable to read.

    and a redrawing:

    More information than you could possibly want or need, but I thought I’d chime in when I heard the M word. Can’t wait to read what you are coming up with.



  • cptcasualt

    My daughter is 3 1/2. Her favourite movie is Monsters Inc and her favourite monster is Sulley.

  • The monsters in George Macdonald’s The Princess and Curdie are some of my favorites–the ugliest ones are human on the inside, and the human-looking ones are gruesome on the inside. Only the discerning heart can tell the difference.

  • shalott

    Some of these wouldn’t traditionally be seen as monsters, but here goes:

    Kurtz from Heart of Darkness
    Ronnie J. McGorvey from Little Children
    Orual from Till We Have Faces
    Sunday in The Man Who Was Thursday

    Mythological (?):

    Mandrakes (Gen. 30:14-17)

  • jmcgee58

    The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are filled with great monsters… the ringwraiths, orcs, the Balrog, and Shelob (the great spider). Tolkien’s monsters are truly evil, in the good vs. evil sense.

    The best sci-fi movie monster is the Alien. Giant, relentless, unknown (even when you see it in Alien, you only get quick glimpses).

    My vote for the best human monster goes to Norman Bates, in Psycho. What a creepy, but believable character he was!

  • I don’t know if he’s my favorite, but I really really like Davy Jones from PoTC: DMC and AWE (although I haven’t seen it yet).

    The thing I like about Jones is that he IS very evil, but he has a sympathetic side. For heaven’s sake … he carved his own heart out over lost love. He seems sad while playing the organ and, when hearing about Will and Elizabeth’s love in DMC, seems sympathetic for just a moment.

    I think that’s what makes a great villain. Someone that isn’t a complete sadist, but someone that you can feel for just a little bit. I also like to know how a villian became evil. Was it a fall from grace? Family history? Abuse? Etc.

  • Mike Harris-Stone

    My all time favorite would be Grendel in the book by John Gardener. Another would be Smaug in the Hobbit. The dragon in Farmer Giles of Ham is pretty fun too.

    In movies…I’d say something invisible. There is something terrifying to me about a thing when you know it’s present, but can’t sense it any other way.

    Have fun writing! This is cool. I can’t wait to read the results when the book comes out!

  • cptcasualt

    Vader, of course.

    Bum bum bum, bum ba bum, bum ba bum.

  • My wife and I have been watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer lately, and there are so many great monsters and villains in there. Right now, my fave is the Mayor, the “big bad” of season 3. On the one hand, he’s trying to become a demon, destroy the town, eat lots of people, etc. On the other hand, he’s smart, funny, quirky, insightful, and capable of having incredibly loving, fatherly moments with one of his underlings.

    And of course, there’s always Spike. Again, violent, misanthropic, and brutal. But also funny, witty, and oh so charming. In some ways, he’s one of the most insightful — and enjoyable — characters in the series.

  • LfN

    Disturbing: Alien. The scene where it bursts out of the chest of that bewildered victim is a classic intro to one of the fiercest monsters of all time.

    Interesting: Hellboy. I like the question of identity in the movie (I haven’t read the comics). I also like the demon’s sense of humour.

    Endearing: Sweetums from the Muppet Show. As a kid I always wished Sweetums was my friend, for warmth as well as inspiring fear and awe in the older kids in my school. With Sweetums as your friend you’d be guaranteed respect.

  • Now, when you say favorite montser

    Favorite monster(s):

    1. The Sarlac- That thing freaked me out as a kid. Being digested over thousands of years induced much terror. It was scarier before they redid it and added the CGI tentacles. It left more to the imagination.

    I think monsters that have scared me the most have been ones that weren’t necessarily fully spelled out…your imagination filled in many parts.

    I like how M. Night did that in Signs with the alien creatures.

    2. Gollum. Just plain cool. Lovable and hateable.

    3. Those skeletons from Sinbad and the Seven Seas. Man, those were just cool.

  • Michael Bay. period.