For your entertainment and general reference, here is a complete list of ABC entries thus far. Note that Fearsome Critters was an entry without a picture, and also that I have Illhveli written up but not as an official entry.

A

A-mi’-kuk

Abúhukü

Agrippa

Aíǰe

Aksar

Alicanto

Aloés

Alp-luachra

Ambisiangulo

Amphisbaena

Animalito

Apep

Araǵanaqlta’a

Arragouset

Atui Koro Ekashi

Auñ Pana

Az’-i-wû-gûm Ki-mukh’-ti

B

Bakunawa

Balbal

Barcädžy Calh

Basilisk

Baxbakwalanuxsiwae

Beathach Mòr Loch Odha

Behemoth

Beisht Kione Dhoo

Biasd Na Srogaig

Bigorne

Binaye Ahani

Bingfeng

Bitoso

Bo

Bocarin

Bogey

Bonnacon

Boongurunguru

Bosch

Brethmechin

Bruch

Bulgu

Butatsch Cun Ilgs

C

Caladrius

Calopus

Camacrusa

Camphruch

Carbunclo

Carcolh

Caspilly

Catoblepas

Cenchris

Cerastes

Cherruve

Chicheface

Chimera

Chipfalamfula

Chonchón

Codrille

Colôrobètch

D

Danghu

Davalpa

Davy Jones

Devil-jack Diamond-fish

Devouring Gourd

Dijiang

Dipsas

Dodo

Dulhath

Dungavenhooter

Duphon

Dwarf

E

Each Uisge

Eintykára

Eloko

F

Falajitax

Fayette

Fearsome Critters

Fei

Flyðrumóðir

G

Gigelorum

Gold-digging Ant

Gremlin

Guariba-boia

H

Haakapainiži

Haemorrhois

Hidebehind

Hrökkáll

Hrosshvalur

Huayramama

I

Impundulu

Indombe

Indus Worm

Isiququmadevu

Isitwalangcengce

It

Ix-hunpedzkin

J

Jaculus

Jetin

K

Kăk-whăn’-û-ghăt Kǐg-û-lu’-nǐk

Kamaitachi

Kamikiri

Katthveli

Kayeri

Khodumodumo

Kori

Kranokolaptes

L

Lakúma

Lamia

Lange Wapper

Lavandière de Nuit

Lavellan

Lebraude

Lilyi

Llamhigyn y Dwr

Lolmischo

Lupeux

Lushu

Lyngbakur

M

Malebête

Mantabungal

Margot la Fée

Marool

Mastopogon

Mbielu-mbielu-mbielu

Melalo

Mi-ni-wa-tu

Mi’raj

Minceskro

Mourioche

Muirdris

Munuanë

Múshveli

N

Nauthveli

Númhyalikyu

Nunda

Nurikabe

Nyuvwira

O

Odontotyrannus

Okpe

Ompax

Onchú

Oókempán

Orabou

P

Păl-raí-yûk

Palis

Pareas

Peteu

Pilou

Polevik

Poreskoro

Prester

Puaka

Pyrallis

Q

Qasoǵonaǵa

Qinyuan

Qiongqi

Qiqirn

R

Rahara

Raiju

Rauðkembingur

Rolling-calf

Romŝiwamnari’

Roperite

Rukh

S

Sachamama

Sāmm-abraṣ

Ṣannāja

Sapo Fuerzo

Saratan

Sarmatian Sea Snail

Scarbo

Schilalyi

Scytale

Selamóðir

Seps

Serra

Shādawār

Shahmat al-Ard

Shoo Fly

Sinad

Sirānis

Skeljúngur

Skoffín

Skötumóðir

Stella

Stökkull

Stray Sod

Stymphalian Bird

Sverðhvalur

Swan Valley Monster

T

Tabib al-Bahr

Tapirê-iauara

Taumafiskur

Tçaridyi

Tçulo

Teelget

Tiddalik

Tlilcoatl

Tosetáx

Traîcousse

Trolual

Tsemaus

Tsenahale

Tsuchinoko

Tuyango

U

Umutwa

Usilosimapundu

Utelif

V

Vatnagedda

Vodyanoi

Vouivre

W

Whowie

X

Xi

Xicalcoatl

Xuangui

Y

Yakumama

Yamabiko

Yara-ma-yha-who

Yedua

Yeitso

Yohualtepoztli

Yuanat

Z

Zabraq

Zhubieyu

Ziphius

Zitiron

Wow! Thank you! Response to my Big Question has been overwhelmingly positive, so I’m working on getting the ball rolling for the ultimate version of ABC! I still have a few questions that I would like to ask you, dear readers, so bear with me.

Some things are more certain than others. Of note:

    • The final ABC product will have far more than what’s actually on the site. I’ve conspicuously left out a lot of big names (dragons, unicorns…) as well as lots more unknown creatures, so there’s no shortage of creatures to flesh out ABC.
    • Not only that, but the final version of ABC will have more artwork/sketches to supplement the ones that are already on the site. And, of course, all-new art for the new entries. I want even long-time readers to feel justified in making this purchase.
    • But based on the above two points, it will take a while to finish up the writing and illustration. The timespan depends on how much of my time I can afford to devote to the project.
    • As of now, my plans are for a physical copy. I do not have any current plans to make an ebook, but that might change with time.
    • As of now, I have been unable to secure a response from a literary agent (barring one painful experience) so it looks like crowdfunding is the way to go.

Other things are less certain, and here’s where I need your help. You don’t have to respond, I certain won’t think less of you if you don’t, but answering one or more of these questions will help me gauge how I should be attacking this problem.

  1. What size book would you want ABC to be, if it was physical? Options range from coffee-table to field guide and everything in between. Any book you can mention that approximates the desired volume?
  2. What kind of format would you prefer ABC to take? This ties in to the previous question – maybe you want a pocket-sized brick with entries in neat boxes. Or something, I’m not judging.
  3. Do you want a complete final ABC book, or a selectively incomplete book to expedite its creation and/or reduce its mass?
    1. What if I left stuff out (e.g. humanoids)?
    2. What if I made it in multiple volumes?
    3. What if I left out the illustrations? … nah, just kidding, but would a text-only Dictionary of Creatures be appealing to some readers?
  4. Would you want me to hire real illustrators and/or designers and/or technowizards to speed up the process?
  5. Do you have strong opinions on crowdsourcing? Any websites in particular you’d recommend (or recommend I avoid)?
    1. Reminder that I do not live in or belong to any of the Kickstarter-approved countries, so that’s definitely out.
  6. If crowdsourcing happens, anything you’d like to see as reward tiers besides increasing amounts of ABC copies?

As before, respond in whatever format seems fit to you, or not at all, and not all of the questions have to be answered either. All opinions are welcomed. ABC reserves the right to tactfully ignore select opinions.

Are you excited? I sure am!

Alright, so I said I was going to pause on new entries for the moment. And that I was working on something big. Or at least planning on working on something big. Working on planning on working on something big?

So here it is.

The big question.

Would there be interest in a printed book version of A Book of Creatures?

Just that. Further details forthcoming depending on response. Please answer and/or send feedback via your pick of email, tumblr, facebook, cell phone, word of mouth, Pony Express, telegram, and carrier pigeon. ABC values your opinion!

Once again, it’s time for ABC to take a well-deserved hiatus for new entries for the summer. But it’s not a complete stop, oh no! Just a pause on new content. Asides will come up sporadically. Wednesday “interludes” will still published. And I’m going to be working on something big… something that may change the face of teratology as we know it… stay tuned.

Nyuvwira

Variations: Inifwira

Nyuvwira

The Nyuvwira is an enormous snake restricted to the Chitipa District of Malawi. It is found in association with minerals, especially precious minerals of monetary value. It can also be found in the mines of South Africa. It is known as Inifwira in Sukwa.

A nyuvwira has eight heads and is the largest snake in the world. It generates electricity and lights at night. It lives underground, which is fortunate as it is extremely toxic. When it moves (about every 200 years) it causes death and disaster. Airplanes flying over a nyuvwira crash.

The skin of a nyuvwira, held in one’s pocket, prevents planes from moving and is a powerful charm for wealth. To kill a nyuvwira one must construct a spiral hut and line it with razors, then entice the snake in by ringing bells. It will crawl over the razors and cut itself to death.

References

Hargreaves, B. J. (1984) Mythical and Real Snakes of Chitipa District. The Society of Malawi Journal, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 40-52.

Okay, I’m cheating a little. Those aren’t exactly obscure or modern – in fact, they’re some of the best-known, oldest, and most enduring mythical creatures. But they are unique renditions of those creatures, and have influenced modern views of them in surprising ways, including providing the answer to a mystery that has plagued DnD scholars.

In its April 23, 1951 issue, LIFE Magazine ran a short (4 pages) article titled “Mythical Monsters”, subtitled “These Beasts Existed Only In Man’s Imagination”. It featured seven mythical creatures illustrated by another of my favorite illustrators, Rudolf Freund (I really need to do an effortpost on LIFE artists including Lewicki and Freund). They are beautiful, detailed, and feature some… unusual design choices.

Su

The depiction of the su is representative of Freund’s approach. Reading a mustached woman’s face, palm-frond tail, tiger stripes, frog babies, and ample udders into the description is definitely a first.

Griffin

The griffin, on the other hand, is standard, although modern artists would give it eagle’s forelimbs. Pedants would argue that this isn’t a griffin but an opinicus. They’re wrong.

Yale

The yale in particular looks like it could actually exist, and I love the dynamic pose it’s in.

Basilisk

Going to go out on a limb here and claim that this here is the reason why so many basilisks today are drawn as lizards instead of little crowned snakes or freaky reptochickenmutants. Nothing in the text suggest anything lizardy either, so Freund may have been elaborating here.

Disclaimer: the break in its middle is because it’s spread across two pages.

Gorgon

Looks familiar? That’s right, LIFE used Topsell’s gorgon (itself a renamed catoblepas). In turn, I humbly suggest that this was the inspiration for Dungeons and Dragons’ gorgon. You can stop worrying about where Gygax got his gorgon from and start sleeping easy.

Manticore

Freund’s manticore is scarier than anything else. It’s also the most dapper of manticores. Check out that handlebar mustache and the slicked hair! I suspect the manticore in Page and Ingpen’s encyclopedia of Things That Never Were was based in part on this. References to this manticore pop up in odd places, including…

JLA manticore

… that one JLA comic where a manticore and a griffin double-team our heroes. The manticore is yellow, of course.

I always thought that was a cop-out weakness too.

Unicorn

The last and best is this spectacular unicorn. I love the different colors and the mismatched elephant feet. This is exactly what unicorns should look like – garbled third and fourth hand accounts of rhinos.

Beisht Kione Dhoo

Variations: [Yn] Beisht [y] Kione Dhoo ([The] Beast of [the] Black Head); [Yn] Beisht Kione ([The] Beast of Head) (erroneously)

Beisht Kione Dhoo

Fishermen on the Isle of Man have traditionally observed a number of customs. Whistling on board “bothers the wind” and is discouraged. Sticking a knife in the mast on the appropriate side causes the wind to blow from that direction. Losing items on board is bad luck; borrowing items from “lucky” boats brings good luck. Four-footed land animals should not be mentioned by name, but instead by a circuitous sea-name – rats, for instance, are “long-tailed fellows”. Cold iron is a remedy to most acts of bad luck.

Then there is a number of sea creatures that can wreak havoc on fishing vessels. Of the the Beisht Kione Dhoo, the Beast of Black Head, is the most terrifying. It makes its home in the sea-caves on Black Head, near Spanish Head at the southern tip of the Isle of Man. The few who have seen it say it has a head like that of a large horse, and it can be heard roaring by fishermen off Spanish Head. Some say it is the soul of a man killed by pirates in order to protect their treasure hidden in the headland’s caves. Nobody has attempted to claim that treasure.

To placate the Beisht and bring on good luck, rum is left in the cave at Spanish Head. Fishermen heading out to sea would throw a glassful of rum overboard in hopes that the Beisht will grant them a bountiful catch.

References

Broderick, G. (1984) A Handbook of Late Spoken Manx: Grammar and Texts. Max Niemeyer, Tübingen.

Killip, M. (1976) The Folklore of the Isle of Man. Rowman and Littlefield, New Jersey.

Rose, C. (2000) Giants, Monsters, and Dragons. W. W. Norton and Co., New York.