Away in a Manger: A Christmas Tale of Terror

There is a place, so dominated by nativity scenes, that the you often feel like the tiny figurines are watching you. I am tormented by this idea. Irrational fear or no, it haunts me.

My best friend’s house, the one I visited all throughout childhood, is just such a place. Every other month of the year, it’s a typical suburban home. But come December, the nativities creep out. Figurines, pillows, throw blankets, ornaments, you name it. One year we counted over 100 in just one room. So you can imagine what this did to my fertile imagination. Yes, that’s right, straight to horror.

I wondered what would happen if they came to life one night. Would these ceramic figurines be benevolent, or out for blood? What followed was a delve into Christmas terror. And I wasn’t alone in my horrific machinations. The folks at Grinning Skull Press also share a penchant for the creepy at Xmas. I’m happy to say that “Away in a Manger” appears in the 2019 edition of Deathleham. The proceeds of this publication go to charity, so please download or purchase a copy to support the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

And my apologies to the wonderful family, so bedecked with nativities. You should know better than to feed my imagination.

Tim Kane

Channeling Your Inner Tattoo Artist for Inktober

As this Inktober has progressed, I find myself leaning more and more toward American Traditional style for inking. For this week’s spread it’s most evident in the final day (Saturday).

For October 7th, I really wanted to create an evil tree (as if lifted from Snow White). I spent plenty of time searching up different gnarled trees and combined the best into Mr. Woodsy here.

I wanted to still keep things creepy (It is October after all), so I went for a bone-thin witch for the “Frail” theme of October 8th.

I’m still searching for just the right image to use for Pammy and wanted to try something a little more cute. The jury is out, but I love the pumpkin shading. This is for October 9th theme of “Swing.”

I had really wanted to do a tessellation for the theme of “Pattern” on October 10th, but after an hour fiddling with cut paper, I cut bait and went with my daughter’s suggestion of Jason’s mask.

October 11th’s “Snow” theme was a rushed one (I’ve just started teaching second quarter and have been pooped). But I enjoyed shoving real severed eyeballs into the snowman.

For “Dragon” this is where I really started channeling my inner tattoo artist. I love how the brush pen creates bold lines. I can’t really shade (or use color) but the outline feels strong the way I needed it to be.

Onward and inkward.

Tim Kane

The Deadlock Between Survivor and Monster

My story, Deadlock, has just been published by Ripples in Space. I originally wrote this for a contest titled “Monsters in Space” but by the time I was ready to send it in, the window closed (I didn’t miss the deadline so much as they filled up early). Here was my dilemma, I needed to use a classic monster (vampire, zombie, mummy, etc) to chase some poor schleps in space. As I chewed this over in my mind, I kept circling back to Alien and how the Xenomorph terrorizes Ripley. Of course I don’t use a Xenomorph, but there is a classic Hollywood monster involved. I decided to pick a realistic space monster (no Jason in Space for me) because I thought I might need to send it out to other venues (which, in fact, I did).

The key to this story is the standoff, the deadlock, between the monster and the final girl. Neither can kill each other because… Well, that’s the twist, right. I can’t spoil that. But if you like classic monsters, and certainly if you dig Alien, check it out. (Scroll down the page and look for Tim Kane or Deadlock).

Tim Kane

How to Make Every Inktober Post Creepy

This is my first year charging through the categories of Inktober. If you’ve never tried this, the gist is, you compose a drawing, always in ink, around some prompt. Yet the prompts sometimes seem a little broad, and, let’s face it, not always creepy. I’m looking at you, Husky.

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This is October, after all. Strange and creepy are in the air. So my goal was to craft something creepy from each post. Now mind you, I missed day one (didn’t even know about this event). So my drawing pick up on day two.

For “Mindless” I just wanted to draw a skeleton. It doesn’t really match the prompt, but you could say he’s mindless in the way he dances (a stretch, I know).

For “Bait” I wanted the classic “don’t put your hand in there” candy scenario. In this case, the candy is the bait and the child is the prey.

I’ll admit, I didn’t adhere to the prompt on “Freeze.” In fact, I went the opposite direction. I so wanted to draw a cup of coffee. But I made up with two posts for “Build”.

For the Frankenstein, I had just secured a brush pen and wanted to try it out (thus the more obvious “Build” link). But for the cookie jar, I wondered what creepy things a kid could stack to get to the jar (and yes, he got the cookie). It’s all about thinking… what could I do to make this more creepy.

Every other”Husky” I saw all involved dogs. Which is fine. But there’s also another meaning to husky, as in thick bodied. (I am also a word nerd). So I thought of this phrase: Sometimes you need to zip up a husky outer layer to keep the chill from your bones” and voila, a creepy post for the word husky.

Here’s hoping I can keep up the weirdness for the remaining posts.

Tim Kane

Do You Dream of Monsters?

The world is filled with monsters. We only have to see them for what they are. Every culture around the globe has its fair share of creatures that lurk under the bed or slink through the shadows. Rarely do we cast a light on the denizens of our nightmares.

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Often monsters are a product of our own overworked imagination. Take the work of the Linares family and the “Alebrije”, which translates to woodcarving. In 1936, an artist named Pedro Linares succumbed to a high fever, causing him to hallucinate. In these fever dreams, he saw a forest with rocks and clouds, each transforming into wild and multicolored creatures with wings, horns, tails and fierce teeth. After he recovered, Pedro created the creatures he saw, using papier-mâché and cardboard. The Linares family kept this art form alive. The Alebrije pictured above was created by Miguel Linares.

Looking back through history, it’s easy to see similar nightmarish figures sprung from out imagination. Take the Singha for example.

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Not all monsters need to be bad. The Singha is a temple guardian in Thailand. Half-man and half-lion, it guards temple entrances such as Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok. The name derives from the Sanskrit “simha” meaning lion.

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The Fen Huang is another guardian monster, though this one heralds prosperous times. The Fen Huang only appears to mark the beginning of a new era—the birth of a virtuous ruler. During peaceful times, the bird will nest, but if trouble or war arises, it vanishes to its celestial abode.

The Chinese compound term Fèng Huáng means Phoenix. The Feng Huang controlled the five tones of traditional Chinese music, representing the Confucian virtues of loyalty, honesty, decorum and justice. Artifacts show that the the Phoenix (female) as associated with the Dragon (male). The two are mortal enemies or blissful lovers. When shown together, the two creatures symbolize conflict and wedded bliss, and are a common design  in many parts of Asia.

鳳 = Fèng, Male Phoenix    凰 = Huáng, Female Phoenix

 

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The Leshy is another guardian spirit, though you’d never guess it by looking at its fearsome appearance. This creature lives in the forests of Eastern Europe, specifically near the Slavic countries like Bulgaria and Czech. The Leshy’s hair and beard are made of leaves and grasses. It protects wild animals and will play tricks on any who wanter into the forest.

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Look at this skull. What do you see? A monstrous cyclops? Then your imagination would be on par with the ancient people of the Mediterranean. The big round space in the center of the skull, which looks like an eye socket, is actually the nose hole of for a mastodon. We so want to see monsters, that sometimes our mind creates them where they don’t exist.

What sorts of monsters inhabit your dreams? Are they there for protection or to haunt you?

Tim Kane

 

Disney Tarot and Insects Breathing (December’s Weird Roundup)

For this month’s edition of the Weird Roundup, I have some treats for you. These nuggets of strangeness will keep you warm in the coming months.

Disney Princess Tarot

Just when you thought every tarot art concept had been thoroughly explored, here comes one that is so beautiful, it should be made (lawsuits be darned). Imagine each of the major aracana depicted as a Disney princess (or prince).

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These aren’t the creepy Tim Burton cards from A Nightmare Before Christmass (though I love those too). These were created by Suisei-Ojii-Sama (Julian Rivera) over at Deviant art.

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Obviously I have more than a passing interest in Tarot (I wrote a book about it). Plus I love Disney. I live close enough to visit Disneyland at least once a month. So yeah, a Disney themed tarot deck would be right up my alley.

Visualize Insects Breathing

In school, I was the science geek who holed up in the physics lab to avoid pep rallies. Yup, one time we even got to split open a bowling ball with a sledgehammer to see if the density accounted for the holes. So anytime I run across something sciency that piques my interest, I like to pass it along.

Designer Eleanor Lutz simply wants to show people how to make an animated GIF. But here subject matter is mesmerizing. She completely understands what makes a good short animation. The breathing cycle of grasshoppers is very short and lends itself well to the micro animation of GIFS.

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Visit her site to also see a person and a chicken breathing. But insects are the most interesting because they don’t have lungs. Instead they have ten holes along their abdomen called spiracles. Air goes in through the front spiracles and out the back. The grasshopper moves its abdomen to pump the air.

Krampus Night

And you thought all the scaring was done and over with after Halloween. How wrong you were.

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This Friday marks Krampus Night (or Krampusnaught). It’s the day that the demonic associate of Santa (and sometimes and Angel) comes to visit and see if you’re good. Only instead of coal for being naughty, you get a trip down below.

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Read my full article on this lovely fellow here.

Enjoy the holidays.

Tim Kane