Thursday, October 20, 2016

Blade Runner: Creative Platypus

You know, it's been years -maybe over a decade- since I last saw Bladerrunner. I think it was a director's cut, but I'm not even sure which one. It made a lot more sense than the first time I saw it; though even then the movie left a lasting imprint on my mind. I remember the way it played with light and dark. I remember the perpetual rain. Most of all (and who could forget them?), I remember those iconic light umbrellas. So here's a little colored pencil work on a rainy day in honor of a film that deserves all the attention it gets.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Poe's Ligeia (Cont.): The Platypus Reads Part CCCIV

Poe's Ligeia is a mystery. Her features are un-place-able. She has no family. It isn't even clear how long she's been alive. What we do know is that she has deep knowledge of alchemical and occult forces. Here we have Ligeia as an alchemical figure with Lilith-like properties and Egyptian motifs. Not a little inspiration was pulled from the alchemist's laboratory in Hellboy: Wake the Devil.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Poe's Ligeia: The Platypus Reads Part CCCIII

As a fitting follow-up to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I decided to doodle my way through a bit of Edgar Allen Poe. I've asked my students to do the same as a way of interacting with the text, moving from consumers to creators. It's an honorable tradition. After all, it's hard not to see Lovecraft's debt to Poe when reading The Fall of the House of Usher and comparing it to The Rats in the Walls, or Ligeia and The Thing on the Doorstep. Lovecraft binge-read Poe as a child and then turned his own hand to creating.

So here we have the mysterious Lady Ligeia with her impossible to place features and flair for consumptive look (hint: consumption was linked with vampirism in the backwoods of 18th century New England). Next, we have the opium inspired bedroom/ritual chamber where Ligeia makes her final grand entrance. I wasn't sure how that last one would look on paper, but Poe's aesthetic is unfailingly creepy whether in words or colored pencil.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Frankenstein Doodle (Cont.): The Platypus Reads Part CCCII

Here is the final doodle in my Frankenstein series. As with the others, it is based on an original whiteboard doodle used in classroom instruction while teaching Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I had forgotten how haunting the novel's final image is: The monster drifting away upon a small block of ice into darkness. As with Walton, the narrator, we have heard both sides of the story and are called to render judgement. What should become of the Monster? Like Shakespeare's Prospero, we are free to send him anywhere our imagination likes. I. personally, think that the Monster is slowly dying and with Frankenstein dead he has lost all possibility of repairing himself or fathering others of his kind. Whatever the exact nature of his interior life, it will be lost forever. The Monster imagines himself as Milton's Satan, but he is not. He is a Man, and that is far more and far less than even the greatest angel.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

October Readings: The Platypus Reads Part CCCI

I'm in an American Short Stories unit with my students right now. As I looked at the list (Irving, Hawthorne, and Poe), I noticed that the chosen readings were all tales of the supernatural. For some reason, as early United States writers pondered what it meant to be "an American" their thoughts swiftly turned to folklore and the supernatural. Perhaps it was the influence of Romanticism and the Gothic craze that was sweeping Europe at the same time. At any rate, I thought I would compile my own list of favorite Gothic American Short Stories perfect for the Autumnal fireside.

Washington Irving:

Rip Van Winkle
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Nathaniel Hawthorne:

Young Goodman Brown
The Grey Champion

Edgar Allen Poe:

The Fall of the House of Usher

H.P. Lovecraft:

The Shunned House
The Dunwich Horror

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Frankenstein Doodle (Cont.): The Platypus Reads Part CCC

Today's post marks the 300th literary musing here at Platypus of Truth. That journey began with a review of two of my favorite books: Aeschylus' Oresteia and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings back in '06. Ten years later, we're still going strong and still drawing as often as not from the literary canon. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein makes a fitting companion to two originators with her towering fantasy that explores of the origin of pain.

This is my third time reading Frankenstein. At first, I thought it was a Rousseauean fable placing the source of human evil in the corruptions of society. On a third read, the message appears more complex. Frankenstein and the monster he has created mirror each other. Both experience early tragedy, both are left to educate themselves, and both engage in highly articulate blame shifting that seeks always to root their evil deeds in the inattention of others. They are Milton's Satan: starting off proud and towering and ending up weak, whiny and selfish. So is Man, for Mary Shelley, merely the product of his education? My first readings would have produced a resounding "yes". Now, however, I'm beginning to think it's "yes and no".

Whichever it is, here we have a picture of Frankenstein swearing to destroy The Monster at his family's grave. Unbeknownst to the grieving Frankenstein, his creation is lurking in the shadows and hearing his oath with demonic approval.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Frankenstein Doodle (Cont.): The Platypus Reads Part CCXCIX

This is a pen-and-ink version of a whiteboard doodle from my class on Frankenstein. Here we have The Monster fulfilling his promise to be with Frankenstein on his wedding night. Poor fool, Frankenstein believes that The Monster is coming for him! The silhouette style is meant to be a nod to German Impressionism, and influence on Mike Mignola's popular Hellboy series. I used several of Mignola's Frankenstein illustrations from The House of the Living Dead in class with great success. The students enjoyed seeing how Mignola's interpretation of The Monster matched with the images in their head. They're working on their own art project for the book and will be presenting their own creations on Monday. There are many ways to read a book. Mortimer Adler suggested that we do it pen-in-hand. I find it equally productive to do it sketch-book-in-hand.