Your Weekend Creature Comforts: Gargoyles
Happy weekend evil geeks, how are you all? I’m sorry I am a little lacking in posts this week, hopefully I will make up for it next week. But I couldn’t fail you all in my weekly weekend creature report. Today I have decided to spotlight gargoyles.
As a child I spent a lot of time playing with toy dinosaurs, monsters, and animals (sorry, no Barbies in this girl’s closet). And I spent a lot of time wishing very hard that my toy friends would come to life. Stories like The Indian in the Cupboard, Prehysteria, and Toy Story made me think my wishes were worthwhile. But maybe that is why I am fascinated by gargoyles: there seems to be this myth that their stone and cement bodies can animate and come alive for a variety of reasons, and that’s what I am hoping for.
Gargoyles are of course found most commonly on the sides of buildings, as they were originally constructed to serve a purpose: the spout water off of roofs from large castles or buildings. And some of their designs can be stunning thanks to the artists behind them. I found it interesting as I researched gargoyles that their name actually comes from a French word for Throat, which does make a little sense when you think about the word “gargle”. Their name naturally refers to their overall purpose to divert water through their throat from roofs. These pieces of artwork became very popular during the Medieval period. Now when I think of gargoyles I think of scaly, winged, horned beasts but technically they can take any form if they are serving their overall purpose. Some can be depicted as dragons, others as demons, many as various animals, and surprisingly some are even human.
Of course leave it to the Catholic Church to have changed people’s views of gargoyles, as they were the first group of individuals to claim that they represented evil and demons. I personally think they can be quite beautiful, and regardless of their allegiance with good or evil forces, they are stunning to look at. And my imagination draws me towards those that are full-bodied, helping me picture them animate themselves and soar through the skies of the night when humanity is in bed.
Looking through the cultural references to Gargoyles the majority of them depict these creatures siding with the forces of evil. Sadly I was surprised there are not a lot of references to these creatures. In the literature I found three books containing their name in the title, but all three did not concern the creatures. The one gargoyle creature I recall from a novel I have read concerns the Bartimeus Trilogy, which by the way is a phenomenally hilarious collection. In that novel one of the demons takes on the form of a gargoyle during a battle, and the author has great imagery with the statues blending in amongst the church spires one minute, soaring in to battle against the moonlight the next.
There are several SyFy original (and horribly corny) made for TV horror movies out there depicting gargoyles as harbingers of death. Let’s see, there is Rise of the Gargoyles, Reign of the Gargoyles, and Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness to wet your appetite for these monsters. And Disney made some gargoyle side kicks in their version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Gargoyles are also featured in several games including World of Darkness, Dungeons and Dragons, and the gargoyle original Gargoyle’s Quest.
But I think my favorite gargoyle depiction was a classic animated TV show that I looked forward to catching every Saturday morning: Gargoyles was a Disney TV show that aired from 2004 to 2007, and I loved every minute of it. These ancient Scottish gargoyles are transplanted to NYC and come alive from their stone prisons every night. The story follows these ancient monsters adjustment to modern life, and of course bombards them with many supernatural threats to keep them busy fighting evil. I think this show is the reason I am drawn to more life-like (and sized) gargoyle statues as my imagination really wants them to come alive at night.
That’s the end of this weekend’s creature comforts: do any of you have some personal favorite gargoyle stories to share? I am going to be a believer and imagine them gliding throw the dark nights whenever I see them.
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