There is always something sort of magical when one comes across an illustration that is the spitting image of a character one has created in a story or novel. So I was gobsmacked to see these wonderful dapper, Victorian and Edwardian-looking monsters created by artist Travis Louie. The image above ("Frank- who likes to follow people") seemed to echo my character Mr. Dongoggle -- an ogre hiding in plain sight in the short story "Molly" which appeared the the Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villianous Tales, an anthology of twisted fairy tales told from the point of view of the monsters instead of the usual human heroes and heroines. (You can read the original Scottish tale "Molly Whuppie and the Giant" online.)
My character, Mr. Dongoggle is an ogre/giant posing as a Victorian gentleman in London, and one who has lived long enough in his once elegant neighborhood to see it sink into decrepitude and poverty. Molly Whuppie is a mean and spiteful child, who without any reason other than bitter envy, sets out to ruin the ogre and his family of human wife and three bi-creature daughters. Here he is returning home after a day out, pretending for the sake of the neighbors that he has been at work:
"... Molly's eyes narrowed on the figure of Mr. Dongoggle in his pinstriped suit slowly taking the stairs, one heavy foot at a time. She waited on the landing, squatting down so as to have a good long look into his face as he ascended toward her floor. A few more steps and he was eye-level. He was a brute of a man, gray skinned and heavy jawed beneath the bowler. His amber eyes bulged, barely shaded by thin lids. His mushroomed nose quivered when he saw her and a thick red tongue touched his lips. He stopped, furred brow pulled in a question. Molly peered closely at his mottled skin, the jagged line of teeth that snagged on his upper lip. She caught the scent of musk mingled with the sickly sweet odor of peppermint. She glanced at his eyes and saw the threads of darker brown that spun away from the diamond shaped iris. The thin lids snapped shut, but not before she'd seen something. "
And later, a worried Dongoggle takes to the streets..."dressed in tweeds, a fur-lined greatcoat and a stiff top hat. He carried a silver-handled umbrella and shouldered his way into the violent weather.
Here in the biography and about section of his website is a description of Travis Louie's work -- which feels wedded visually and thematically to my own story of gentle disguise intended not to deceive for evil purposes, but to blend into an otherwise unwelcoming society.
"Travis Louie’s paintings come from the tiny little drawings and many writings in his journals. He’s created his own imaginary world that is grounded in Victorian and Edwardian times. It is inhabited by human oddities, mythical beings, and otherworldly characters who appear to have had their formal portraits taken to mark their existence and place in society. The underlying thread that connects all these characters is the unusual circumstances that shape who they were and how they lived. Some of their origins are a complete mystery while others are hinted at. A man is cursed by a goat, a strange furry being is discovered sleeping in a hedge, an engine driver can’t seem to stop vibrating in his sleep, a man overcomes his phobia of spiders, etc, . . .Using inventive techniques of painting with acrylic washes and simple textures on smooth boards, he’s created portraits from an alternate universe that seemingly may or may not have existed."
So do stop by "The Art of Travis Louie" and enjoy all his wonderful odd, and charmingly dapper monsters. They will let you think more kindly of those rough bristled and tusked faces. And let me also share these two beauties with you -- because Louie doesn't stint the ladies and they are so very awesome. Miss Bunny and Amelia, Queen of the Sea Monkeys.