January 18, 2018 · 9:33 am
This has been on my desk for several weeks now. I had picked it up because it looked interesting. It’s a compilation of romance comics from the 1950’s which share a theme of being set in a carnival or circus setting. The characters and tales are weird, as the title implies, but it is also a cool view into 50’s sexuality, and they are all from a woman’s perspective. Now I don’t think that any women actually wrote these, so I question how accurately these tales reflect the average 1950’s female ideals on romance, but it made for some interesting reading.
As a young teenager, I worked with my dad at German festivals in the northeast. I got to know the carnies, the vendors, and the entertainers. Often, in the evenings, I found myself in the trailers out back, and can vouch for the craziness that one might expect to encounter in this environment. But all the freaky people I met were nice, and there was a sense of camaraderie amongst everyone. And this sentiment is also expressed in one of the tales in this comic.
“One thing about carnie people you should know. On the outside, they’re hard and tough. Under the skin, though, they’re warmhearted people. They stood beside me and gave me help.”
In my earlier years, when I was discovering comics as a genre, I was solely interested in horror. It would have never occurred to me to read anything having to do with romance. But in the introduction, the editor, Mike Howlett, explains the parallels between horror and romance.
My two favorite comic book genres are horror and romance, probably because there are so many raw and honest themes shared by the two. Fear, helplessness, and an outcome of triumph (slain monster/true love) or failure (death/heartbreak) prove that the formula can be very similar. Horror and romance stories are filled with passion, emotion, and, surprisingly, both genres find themselves right at home in the sleazy and scandalous world of the comic book sideshow.
I had never stopped to consider this structural similarity between the genres, but it seems so obvious now. Anyway, I’m glad I branched out and read this. It proves how important it is to read diversely.
Filed under Literature
Tagged as 1950s, analysis, art, artwork, bizarre, books, carnies, carnival, circus, comics, criticism, emotion, fantasy, festival, freaks, geek, graphic novel, horror, love, nerd, pop culture, reading, review, romance, romantic, sexuality, stories, women, women's issues, writing
December 24, 2017 · 9:33 am
Tis the season: lights, decorations, Yule logs, nativity scenes, mistletoe, holiday cheer, and of course, Krampus.
One of the things that I love about the Hellboy series is the way that the creative team incorporates myths, legends, and the occult. Myths are such powerful forms of storytelling and they convey profound wisdom and insight into the human condition that they are able to be re-imagined with each new generation. And that is exactly what this issue does—it presents the story of Krampus in a way that resonates with the average American reader.
You’re going to have to bear with me. I’m an American. Over there we’ve got Santa Claus and the elves with toys. Over here… you’ve got Saint Nicholas and his monster sidekick, the Krampus. While Nick’s handing out toys, Krampus–that’s you–hits the bad kids with sticks and rides them around in a basket.
Toward the end of the tale, Hellboy and the professor discuss the possible origins of the Krampus legend.
Professor: Well, I wonder what old Harry Middleton will make of this. I’ll have to call him in the morning… For years he’s maintained that the Krampus was actually the demon goat of the witches’ sabbath, done up in fancy dress for the holidays. And I’ve argued that it was just a slightly nastier variation on the Scandinavian Yule Goat.
Hellboy: “Yule Goat.”
Professor: Yule Goat. Joulupukki. The pre-Christian goat-man version of Father Christmas.
I had never heard of Joulupukki before, but a quick search online provided me with some background on the myth.
Joulupukki is a Finnish Christmas figure. The name “Joulupukki” literally means “Christmas goat” or “Yule Goat” in Finnish; the word pukki comes from the Teutonic root bock, which is a cognate of the English “buck”, and means “billy-goat”. An old Scandinavian custom, the figure eventually became more or less conflated with Santa Claus.
Pagans used to have festivities to honour the return of the sun and some believe Joulupukki is the earliest form of present-day Santa. The Yule Goat was thought by some to be an ugly creature and frightened children while others believe it was an invisible creature that helped prepare for Yule.
Most theorists believe when Christianity began incorporating Pagan ways into their festivals in order to justify the action, they merged the Pagan figure with an already existing Catholic legend known as Saint Nicholas to create Santa Claus.
While the holiday season is a time of celebration throughout cultures and traditions, there is also a touch of the mystical associated with it, and this is often conveyed through ghost stories related to the season.
There must always be ghost stories at Christmas, Elizabeth.
Thanks for stopping by, and may you have a blessed holiday season and a joyous New Year.
Filed under Literature
Tagged as analysis, art, artwork, books, Catholic, Christianity, Christmas, comics, criticism, demon, fantasy, festival, Finland, Finnish, geek, ghosts, goat, graphic novel, hellboy, holidays, Joulupukki, Krampus, legends, mysticism, myth, mythology, nerd, occult, pagan, pop culture, reading, review, sabbath, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Scandinavian, stories, supernatural, Teutonic, tradition, winter, witches, writing, yule
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