The ABC 2017 Wrap-Up

Welcome to the ABC 2017 Wrap-Up, the part of the blog where I talk about the state of ABC and what this means for me, for you, and for the rest of the known universe. It’s been a long, lousy, lolloping year, one in which I made major changes to ABC – changes which are either wise choices or the worst decisions I’ve ever made.

What can I say about them? Let’s dive right in and find out.

ABC Past

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I started A Book of Creatures in the distant, murky past of 2015. I was young and optimistic then, full of grandiose and ill-advised hopes. I had made my own handwritten and hand-drawn encyclopedia when I was in middle school, and the idea never quite left me. As my artistic abilities reached acceptable levels, I wanted to write a book of creatures.

I wanted ABC to be the ultimate reference to mythical entities. In my original idea I wanted to cover everything from obscure fishes like the caspilly (above, my version below) to fairies and dwarfs and goblins and even including entries for the folkloric conceptions of animals (i.e. how have ravens, snakes, whales, centipedes, etc. been interpreted by different cultures). It was an ambitious project but at the time it seemed feasible. If I do three entries a week, then… quick math… I should be done in a few years right? How bad can it be? No fear, right?

I was wrong. Dead wrong. Götterdämme-wrong. The more I wrote, the more I painted, the more I researched, the more I continued to find creatures. Oh, and it was such an adventure finding them! Reading obscure and esoteric books to find details on things that other bestiaries take for granted… it was fun! … and it was also time-consuming. And the more detail I lavished on unknown things like giant tadpoles and medicinal mermaids, the more I shuddered at having to eventually tackle things like giants and elves and dwarfs and fairies, which have had libraries’ worth of books written on them. I thought I’d have to pad out ABC, but there was more creatures than I could handle on my own.

To top it off life started to intrude, little by little, and my ability to handle things started to fall apart – as did I. I won’t write you my life story, but I found myself having to cut back on the frequency of updates. Then I stopped writing creature entries altogether.

ABC Present

Caspilly

Why did I stop? From the start I’d always wanted ABC to be a print book. A solid, colorful encyclopedia that you can take off the shelf anytime and read cover to cover, or ” dip into [the] pages at random, just as one plays with the shifting patterns of a kaleidoscope”, as Borges put it. If I posted everything online, what would be a publisher’s incentive to print the book? What would be your incentive to buy it?

That’s why I stopped. I left everything up here for now because it’s all Important and Valuable Information that should be freely available, but I decided to put it on hold for now until something more concrete materializes for the book. Instead I’m posting other things, book reviews and obscure modern monsters and behind-the-scenes stuff which was requested at the time.

I also trimmed the fat significantly, reviewing and rewriting my definition of “creature” multiple times. As things stand, ABC will not be including things like fairies and goblins and gnomes – creatures that are more or less human in every sense except for magical ability. For now this scope is far too broad for ABC – at least, too broad for the approach I’ve taken.

ABC Future

What does this mean for the future?

I want to continue updating this site with material. It’s my raison d’etre, as it were. I can continue with the asides, or maybe put sketches and snippets of what I’m working on now. I might even go back to posting entries if I feel like I’ve advanced enough.

More importantly, I’m working on the final product. ABC had about 200 or 300 entries when I stopped updating. Including those, I currently have almost 700 entries and counting for the final book. Some of those are pretty much complete, others are works in progress and yet others are outlines. The way I’ve been going about it is going through my references one by one and making sure to enter that information. The art will happen later; I believe finalizing a first draft is higher priority.

As things stand it looks like crowdfunding publishing is the way to go. I will only start working on this seriously once the book is nearing completion. I don’t want to raise hopes and funds over a half-baked product. The downside of this is that, well, it might take a while.

But that’s what 2018 is for. That’s what I’ll be working on.

What about you? Any comments? Anything you’d like to see? Any aspersions to cast? Please let me know!

Otherwise I’ll be right here.

Beastfully yours,

ABC

16 Comments

  1. Good luck! As an artist and writer myself, I know well the struggles of trying to put together an illustrated book. All the unpleasant surprises and moments of self-doubt. But I also know the joy of seeing a project coming together, and the satisfaction of Babi g a finished product in hand.
    I’m very much looking forward to this book. Take your time and make it the best that you can.

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  2. Hey man, believe it or not writing and illustrating a full scale bestiary has pretty much been my dream throughout my teen years too, and it still is …

    I’ve started quite a few, mainly basing myself on mythicalcreaturelist.com (RIP, thank god for the Internet Archive), and any other bestiaries I could get my hands on (I remember spending months trying to find a Classic of Mountains and Seas, but obviously it’s never even neared a non negligeable percentage of everything out there.
    So when I found this (well, NOW I found this, today), I’m just in awe mate. What you’ve done so far is just incredible, seriously. So you can count on my support for any croudfunded project and honestly if I could actually help out in any way at all with the bestiary itself it would be an honour, from drawing to writing to sourcing … anything. I haven’t even finished school yet so I have plenty of time on my hands.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that this whole thing is fucking awesome and so are you, and that you’re not the only one to share the dream. So cheers, and good luck! I’ll be following you.

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  3. Hello there!
    I found your site last year and since then, I check on every entry you upload here. Lately, I made a WordPress account to “like” your entries, since I find myself enjoying them, but not having much to comment hehehe.

    This time, I’d like to take the chance to mention I like how you’re keeping this site up and that I understand you would like to keep new entries and what not for the book, it makes sense to do so since, as you say, giving it for free here would make it less vendible so to speak.

    I enjoy the little snippets you let us take a look at and also your reviews. While I’m interested in creatures (and all things mysterious, mythological, related to folklore, etc.), I’m no expert and I’ve found many cool books thanks to your reviews, so thank you for that.

    As I see it, you’re doing a good job with the website and I’m looking forward to the book, too. I can feel you’re very enthusiastic about this project and I think it’s awesome that you’ve been working on it for so long and are still as engaged. The story about how you realised it was too much to tackle made me smile, because hey, one ought to dream big, right? And nothing prevents you from starting a second project someday ;] I hope the one you’re working in is a very successful one, it may sound corny, but I do think when one puts their heart on something, people can tell.

    I hope this year will be better than the last one and to read lots of entries here :]

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  4. I have to say, I love this site, and I can’t wait for the new art and especially the book. I have a ton of the monster books from Scholastic / Tangerine Press (one of my first was Monsters and Villains of the Movies and Literature: https://www.amazon.com/Monsters-Villains-Movies-Literature-Gerrie/dp/0545079381/ref=pd_aw_sim_14_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=9P7JSDS6YX7G09ZQ8309 Can’t recommend the series enough), and the Book of Creatures looks like it’s going to be even better! I will definitely look into buying this when it comes out. Just as a little request, do you think you could look a little more into the monsters of North America, and maybe Belgium, please? I live in the USA, but I have an online friend in Belgium that it’d be awesome if I showed him that someone drew one of the legendary creatures from his local myth. Looking forward to the finished product! 😀

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  5. I’m working on a mythical bestiary project, as well – not scholarly but in medieval/early-renaissance style of telling stories with moral lessons, and illustrated with block prints. Resources like yours are vital for me (not to mention lots of fun) and I really appreciate your attention to confirming accurate sources. I will absolutely buy a copy as soon as it’s available. Go go go, keep it up!

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