May 3, 2007

 Navigation

   Home Page

 News & Features

   News

 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note

   Boomers

   Pinings

   Longshots

   Techie

 Pop Culture

   Film

   TV

   Books
   Video Games
   CD Reviews

 Living

   Food

   Wine

   Beer
   Grazing Guide

 Music

   Articles

   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts

   Bandmates

 Arts

   Theater

   Art

 Find A Hippo

   Manchester

   Nashua

 Classifieds

   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad

 Advertising

   Advertising

   Rates

 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover


Beasts! edited by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics Books, 2007, 200 pages)
Reviewed by Eric W. Saeger news@hippopress.com

Harcover coffee-table compendium of mythological creatures illustrated by a dense variety of artists, mostly of punk and/or minimalist persuasions. For 30 years now, comics publisher Fantagraphics has foisted upon the world a wide variety of chicken soup for the disaffected soul — Artbabe, Love and Rockets, Gil Hernandez’ Heartbreak Soup and so forth — thus you shouldn’t go in expecting painstakingly worked Frazetta-level fantasy; it’s an A-Z scrapbook collection of first impressions laid out as a series of full-page drawings with corresponding text in classic font.

There’s a lot to learn outside of the usual vampires (here painted with a liberal dose of red spray by Sam Weber in a primitive Rich Corben style) and werewolves (alt-rock CD cover sadboy silliness from Chris Silas Neal). What eventually dawns on you is how ancient legend served as the cinema of its day, not strictly as some sort of ruling-class methodology intended to keep proletariats a-feared and controllable. Here you’ll encounter the Scottish deer demon Sianach, for example, and the Filipino Aswang, which sucks out the unborn child of its prey using its long tongue and tweezing nails, leaving in the fetus’s place a replica made of sticks and assorted junk. There’s certainly enough weirdness here to have kept Mulder and Scully employed for a dozen more TV seasons.

Dan Grzeca’s version of the Gorgon is reminiscent of Kandinsky, while Kevin Dart’s human-eating amphibian Odontotyrannus is aptly imagined in the form of a ’50s sci-fi movie poster complete with bikini girls. Dean Yeagle’s contribution is hysterical, a Dog of Darkness (Barguest) rendered as a slobbering, horned spazz-mutt (named Snookums according to his dog tag) obviously out to run down Ren and Stimpy and use them as chew toys. B