Feb 13, 2014

On Faerie: Those pesky Goblins!

I really do get quite a thrill whenever I get the time to sit down and actually do some writing. My buddy, Gordon MacKay, and I have resolved to catch up online every Sunday evening to do some writing so that we can keep our respective stories ticking over. We had our first writing catch up a few weeks ago, and I got to progress my Willow story some more. The scene that I was writing is actually one I've been looking forward to for some time. It's when Willow and the Otter find themselves stuck in the dreaded Goblin Market!
Writing this scene got me thinking about Goblins in general and what my take on them is.

There have been many different renditions of Goblins over the years. From Tolkien's version, Magic the Gathering ones, Tony DiTerlizzi's, to Christina Rossetti. You'll notice that I have borrowed Rossetti's title for the scene in my book. Let me assure you, that's about all that these two have in common!
The word 'goblin' has been around for centuries, and there are many interpretations of what these beings are. Some show them as quite evil creatures, some have magical abilities, others are tiny, some are mere phantoms.
Personally, I see, and have always seen, Goblins as tricksters; more annoying than actually evil. This is probably because I grew up with illustrations of Goblins by Brian Froud and Arthur Rackham. Their renditions of Goblins definitely leans toward the practical joker perspective. This is the way I like them. There are more than enough dangerous, wicked and evil creatures roaming the lands and realms of Faerie. Goblins fit nicely into that sort of middle ground between benevolent and malicious. Goblins won't be keen on doing something good, but they do stop at doing something wholly bad. Well, at least in my version they do. This isn't always the case in other versions. Take Chritina Rosetti's poem for instance (incidentally, the definitive version is illustrated by Arthur Rackham himself), the Goblins in that story are vicious and cruel, and potentially murderous! And, of course, Tolkien's Goblins are rather fond of killing things too.

The next point of contention is the size of Goblins. They can vary from a couple of inches, all the way up to human size. I put them at about three to four feet tall, on average. This would make tham a little bit taller than a Gnome (cap included). But like any race in Faerie, they can be highly varied. Some have huge and round moon faces, some have long and pointy noses. Some are hairy, others are bald. You get the picture. If you don't, here's an actual picture!
I'll be painting this fella up in the coming week. I'm thinking watercolour and gouache. Pop back soon to see the finished result!

I think that Goblins are a fun bunch to play around with and write about. There's certainly plenty of them in my book, that's for sure.

Let's look at another book from my collection, shall we?


















Ah, Brian Froud's Goblins pop-up book. My brother, Ryan, and I each got our own copies of this book some time in the mid-80's I think. I still have my copy of it and I've picked up another copy along the way somewhere too. It's a really fantastic little book. It's not very long, nor very deep; but by goodness, what Mr. Froud has managed to cram into those pages is just incredible. Whenever I pick up that book, those illustrations really charge my imagination and memories of my first glimpse into Faerie come back, as fresh as yesterday.

There are probably only a handful of books that have heavily influenced my life. This would definitely be one of them. My thanks to you, Mr. Froud!

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