appears in joints like wooden buoys on a net rope

appears like a string of gallon kegs

diameter of a barrel

appears to be full of joints and resembles a string of buoys on a net rope, as is set in the water to catch herring

a string of water casks

There is a very simple logical conclusion that is not being made here…

Not Appearing in ABC: The Ozaena

The Ozaena is one of those creatures that has gained some traction due to the excellent Bestiary by Jonathan Hunt. I won’t reproduce the image in question, but it can probably be found easily enough. Be careful though as “ozaena” is also a medical condition, and the images are unpleasant.

In it, the entry for O describes the Ozaena or “stink-polyp” as a hideous, be-tentacled blue creature with a foul smell. Hunt makes it look more alien, or something like a sea anemone – a polyp, presumably.. It varies in size from tiny to enormous, with one Spanish terror growing to the size of a ninety-gallon cask.

Quite a memorable creature, eh? Shame it doesn’t exist.

To understand what we’re talking about, we need to specify what polyp means. It’s not polyp as we understand it today, but short for polypus or “many-legs”. It is no more or less than the ancient term for the octopus.

Aristotle distinguishes several kinds of octopus. Amongst those are the eledone, the bolitaena, and the ozolis – what would eventually become the Roman ozaena. Those are small in size and variegated, and have only one set of suckers along their tentacles. In other words, our ozaena is none other than the musky octopus Eledone moschata, which smells of musk. One of its synonyms is Ozoena moschata. It is neither huge nor terrifying.

(Image from Wikipedia)

The giant octopus story is in fact a separate account, unrelated to the ozolis, ozaena, or whatever. An enormous octopus came ashore at Dicaerchia in Italy, where it ravaged the cargo of Iberian merchants. The merchants would leave pickled fish in large jars on the shore, and the octopus would haul itself out of the water, break the jars, and eat the fish. This happened multiple times, and the merchants could not understand who the thief could be. A servant was left on guard one moonlit night, and he reported the incredible occurrence to his masters. The next time the octopus appeared it was assaulted with axes and slain.

So there you have it, a Frankensteined account creating an alien creature from our modern unfamiliarity with archaic terms and our tendency to lump accounts together for convenience.

It’s alright. Shake off the heartbreak, there’s plenty more creatures to make up for it. With that I leave you with Thomas de Cantimpré’s imagery of the octopus or polypus, apparently in the process of drowning someone.

Voldemort’s warm embrace.

Welcome to the ABC 2018 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. This has been a strange, messed-up year, one in which I’ve been forced to reevaluate everything I knew or thought I knew, and one in which I’ve heeded some important wake-up calls.

What did we learn?

  • A print version of ABC is not coming anytime soon. Why, you ask? See the following points.
  • Writing up all the entries is next to impossible. The relatively relaxed pace of ABC updating allowed me to spend some time doing as much research as possible and painting illustrations I found, if not good, at least acceptable. But doing it all together is dizzying. I don’t even know how to start at it. And my art has deteriorated massively to the point where I hate it.
  • Finding an agent and/or publisher is next to impossible. I’m unpublished and have no credentials, there is no reason for anyone to hire me. And I don’t live in the US or Europe and don’t have easy access to crowdfunding and other such platforms.
  • My mental state has also degraded significantly. Turns out ABC gave me a reason to exist, a goal, a Thing to Do. Without it and without any clear plan for making the blog or a print book, I’ve been as pointless as a fish without a bicycle. More than usual at any rate.

All this paints a pretty bleak picture, doesn’t it? Well, turns out my loss is your gain. I have decided to go back to updating ABC, at least twice a week as before (and maybe three if I put more elbow grease into it). There are a lot of things I want to tell you about and I want to make sure it gets out there.

Watch this space. Watch it closely.

I can’t possibly do justice to this marvel. From the pages of the (excellent) Legion of Super Heroes, it’s a not-veiled-at-all retelling of Herman Melville’s book, and it’s the Super-Moby Dick of Space.

You’re all so happy I informed you of its existence.

Z is for… Zoureg


The Zoureg is a mysterious Arabian snake. Despite being only a foot long, nothing can stop it once it starts moving. Trees, rocks, human beings – the zoureg goes through them like a hot knife through butter (with fatal results on humans, obviously). The only way to kill it is to decapitate it in its sleep.

Y is for… Ya-te-veo

The Ya-te-veo (literally “I see you”) is, as far as anyone knows, only described by Buel in his book Sea and Land. Since it’s found in both Africa and South America, it’s either a Wegenerian miracle or an amalgamation of all carnivorous plant tall tales. It tends to look like a comfy seat before snaring people in its spiked tentacles and giving them the Iron Maiden treatment. Excellent!

X is for… Xiao

The name Xiao is used for two creatures in the Guideways, an ape and a bird, both of which are noisy. The Xiao or Raucous-bird has four wings, one eye, a dog’s tail, and caws like a magpie. Eating it cures stomachache and diarrhea. The Guideways assures us that it resembles Kuafu the Boaster (it doesn’t).

And the solution to the previous quiz? It’s a beaver. It is described as living in rivers, both on land and in the water, and building houses with multiple chambers and exits.

Never underestimate the power of an artist who has no idea what they’re drawing.