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Your Weekend Creature Comforts: Goblins

Thank god it’s the weekend, and your time to kick back, enjoy a drink or two, and be as lazy or productive as you want. And what better way to relax than while indulging in your favorite non-human creature obsession? With this weekend’s first post, we’re going to start bringing you the perfect post on your favorite creatures every weekend to help you forget about your banal week-to-week work life.  Whether it is claws, scales, fur, spikes, fangs, or rotting flesh, we’ll make your weekend relaxation more enjoyable with this weekly installment from the Brotherhood of Evil Geeks.  Humans have been telling creature tales since the time of the Cave Men, so it’s a tradition we are delighted to continue.

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The plan will be to pick a creature to discuss in detail every weekend, where we will first go over the personal details of said creature, followed by a reference for their most memorable appearances in human history, and lastly followed up with our personal favorite representation of the creature being profiled. And requests are welcome. While we have many species we plan on bringing in to your homes in the coming months, feel free to send me an email from the “About Us” tab section of the website.

So for our first Creature Comforts we are going to spotlight goblins, a classic and recurring character encountered in many fantasy novels, movies, and myths. What is a goblin you ask?

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Goblin creatures first entered our stories supposedly sometime in the early 1800’s, when they first entered Germanic and British folklore stories, even though as early as the 1600’s the word goblin was used to reference human thieves. In the grand scheme of things, that’s actually pretty recent, so even though you and I might think of goblins as an ancient, trickster fiend, they’ve only been around in our fables for a little over 200 years. There are several myths just about the origin of their name, which some say actually originated from the word Gob which refers to a king of the gnomes, though most descriptions in history describe the species as a mutation of the fairy line that’s embraced being mischievous and malicious. Not exactly what most of us picture as a relation to David the Gnome….

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During the 1800’s and early 1900’s several fairy tales of tricky and malicious creatures that had a phantom-like ability to disappear and appear at the most inconvenient times popped up, earning goblins a place in folktale history. They were most well portrayed as short, child-like statured monsters with elfish qualities turned bad, and not even uncommonly as green in coloration. But goblins really earned their spot in history when J.R.R. Tolkien first described them in The Hobbit, and then again in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. With those novels the term “orc” was synonymously interchangeable with the word “goblin”, though the latter was used more commonly for small goblins and orcs was more often reserved for giant goblins. In addition to being evil at heart, these goblins were blood thirsty and terrifying.

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And now thanks to Peter Jackson we all have a modern image that comes quickly to mind when we think of goblins. Other notable goblin appearances in our more recent history include the devilishly small and manipulative money loving goblins of Harry Potter’s Gringotts.

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As we see with Griphook, a very important goblin in the Harry Potter series, even with their awkward and short size as well as their important role in managing the majority of the magic world’s money, goblins can still be conniving monsters. Although I don’t play video games personally, I know they are a great way to waste your week as commonly referenced on this amazing site, and World of Warcraft is supposedly known for its more accepting goblin role as a playable creature, not just a villain. Artemis Fowl, Legend, Twilight Eyes, and The Spiderwick Chronicles also have some more recent portrayals of the goblin monster. Even Merlin had a guest appearance of a goblin spreading pranks throughout the city in one season.

But now we come to my personal favorite example of the goblin. It is one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s visions as I mentioned before, only one that I saw for the first time as an 8 year old and it has been permanently etched in my brain under the title “goblin” since then. The Hobbit Animated Movie was one of the first movie versions ever made of the novel. It’s goblins might not be as hideous a creature as the more recent Jackson creations, but this animated portrayal of goblins is just perfect. I know we are all so used to CGI goblins or even Pixar’s animated features, but this old animated film is worth the watch for its drawings. The film was from 1977 and portrayed all of The Hobbit in its glory. And although the depiction of Gollum might be my favorite from the film, the goblins are absolutely horrifying and picture-perfect. While the more recent Jackson depiction of singing goblins from his most recent Hobbit movie might seem a little awkward, these singing cartoons do it just right with the right balance between scary and musical. My personal favorite goblins of all time are depicted in this film, and I strongly recommend finding a copy of this old movie and enjoying the story and amazing creatures.

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Well, that’s it for this week folks, stay tuned for another evil creature report next weekend!

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Posted on August 31, 2013, in Creature Comforts, Geekology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. you have no idea how much i wanted my own Swift from David the Gnome as a kid haha

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  2. You are too right about missing Labyrinth, sorry I forgot that one, it’s a great one. But stay tuned to future creature comforts, next week I will be mentioning Shakespeare specifically and I am sure more folktales will come up in the future.

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  3. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck is referred to as a goblin at least once. You also can’t forget the goblins and Goblin King from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Personally, I prefer the tricky impish goblins of folklore over the heavily armed ones of Tolkien. Never been a huge Tolkien fan. I tend to think of myself as a “folk and fairy tale geek”. And I mean that. I approach my love of folk stories in much the same way others would their love of comic books (which I also love) or science fiction.

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