Apr 15 2012

#351 “Twilight”

From a stranger in Chattanooga, Tennessee

For the record, this is the first illustration featuring a Twilight character that I have received from a college student enrolled in a sophomore level history class who likes to doodle on her notes. I just hope she waited until after the test to send this in…


Nov 17 2011

#201 “Wolf vs. Wolf”

From Andrew at the University of Missouri

The cyclical nature of interest in the wolf is a phenomenon that any true wolf enthusiast will find terribly fascinating. In many ways it seems that we are currently residing in a sort of “Wolf Renaissance” that is reminiscent of that of the early 1980s. I’m not sure about the rhyme or reason behind it, but the early 80s were a time when the wolf was center stage in a variety of media entertainment outlets. Taking just popular movies as an example, all of the following titles were all produced between the years 1980 and 1985: Teen Wolf, Silver Bullet, Wolfen, The Howling, Never Cry Wolf, The Night of the Werewolf, The Company of Wolves, and An American Werewolf in London. Now, in the last ten years, we haven’t necessarily had a full-blown resurgence of interest in the wolf, but there are signs that a fresh rebirth of lupine enthusiasm is rising like a full moon. Notice the following bits of wolf phenomena as examples: The striking success of the “3 Wolf Moon” t-shirt (seen here), the current obsession with the character of Jacob from theTwilight series, the creation of the Teen Wolf television show on MTV, the cultural phenomenon that is Shaun Ellis and the lifestyle he lives, as well as a variety of other pop culture references to wolves that are beginning to appear everywhere from The Hangover to songs by Let’s Buy Happiness, Bon Iver, The Good Natured, My Chemical Romance, and on and on. Also, going back to movies for a second, all of these titles were released in the last few several years: Dog Soldiers, The Ginger Snaps Series, Underworld, Big Bad Wolf, Blood and Chocolate, The Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta, Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound, A Mexican Werewolf in Texas, Rid Riding Hood, and the list could go on…

But all of this makes me wonder what might happen if some of these famous wolves and wolf warriors were to meet upon the field of battle. Andrew’s illustration also seems to bring this idea to mind and causes us to speculate would might happen if these characters were to face off. What could one expect from a battle between the preacher/werewolf from Silver Bullet and Selene from Underworld? Who would you place your bets on in a battle to the death between Marsha Quist from The Howling and Sgt. Harry Wells of Dog Soldiers?

But the pièce de résistance of any discussion of wolf battles throughout the ages would no doubt come down to Scott Howard from the original Teen Wolf and Jacob Black from the Twilight series. Andrew really nailed it with this epic match up, and in the end, I’m not sure if there is a clear victor in this battle of lobos. While Jacob may be downplayed by modern wolf enthusiasts for taking center stage in a series that commands mostly teenage girls as fans, no one can deny his physical prowess. Also, in reference to Scott Howard, he certainly has the cool factor in his back pocket, but is this alone enough for him to steal the victory? Who’s to say? Maybe no one could accurately predict what might happen if these two teenage werewolves were to ever cross paths, but one thing’s for sure: it would be a battle you wouldn’t want to miss.

Thanks, Andrew, this epic matchup has certainly given us some food for thought.


Oct 24 2011

#177 “To Serve Man”

From Heidi in Texas

If you’ve never seen the episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “To Serve Man” which was based on the short story of the same name by Damon Knight, please allow me to recommend it to you. It’s one of the greatest episodes in the history of the series and was one of the only episodes in which the fourth wall was broken down and an actor spoke directly to the viewing audience. Besides this, though, the story is cleverly constructed and is just twisted enough to walk that fine line between being disturbing and entertaining.

Here’s the gist of what happens: (1) Aliens come to Earth (2) The aliens are really swell guys and they say that their whole purpose in visiting earth is “to serve man.” (3) The aliens even bring a really neat book on how to serve man, but it’s written in an alien language and no one can translate it. (4) People start moving to the alien planet by the truckload (or spaceship load) in order to become the gods they think they will be treated like when they arrive (5) As all of this is happening, the book finally gets translated, and lo and behold…. It’s a cookbook! Ahhhhhhhhhhh! “To Serve Man.” Get it?

Zing! What a twist!

As cheesy as all of this sounds, the episode delivers a fairly overt admonition for us to keep our pride in check and to use our brains instead of stroking our own egos. Also, at the end of the episode when the actor breaks down the 4th wall, he says, “We’re all of us on the menu… All of us.” The message in this statement is clear: Regardless of how advanced or how intellectual we may become, we’re still a part of the food chain, and when push comes to shove, we may very well be at the mercy of creatures that are more powerful than we are.

Am I a misanthrope who hopes that Mother Nature and her army of animals will repay us for the evil crimes that we have committed against her? Certainly not. But I also don’t think we should become too cocky. Take the illustration above, for example. While the exact circumstances are a bit unclear, one thing that we know definitively know is that a complete role reversal has taken place, and man is now being served in much different way than he is used to.

In the end the choice is yours: Serve others… or be served, yourself.