Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pyrausta, the unwitting incendiary

The famous pyrausta is this time’s creature. I really enjoyed learning about it, as it is a very interesting pirozoo (or pyrozoo). The artist this time is none other than my good friend Midnight City. She has a very distinct and imaginative style that I adore and found perfect for such an interesting creature. A little anecdote about this one: I made a mistake while translating the original text (French), understanding that the pyrausta didn’t have a mouth. It does have one, using it to bite other pyraustas or move coals, etc. but doesn’t eat with it: apparently, the heat is its nourishment. Elian proposes the idea that these creatures are small because of the space given in the ovens, but that if they lived in active volcanoes or any other more spacious place, they might grow much more. Scagliero & Solino refute this notion by pointing out the creature’s delicate structure: a heavier body would actually kill it, or, it’d need plenty of heat to survive once it reached a gargantuan size.

About Midnight City: she is currently a student, but her future looks quite promising given her vision of things :) You can check her amazing work on DA: http://midnightcity.deviantart.com/
Or through her blog:  http://klobbmc.blogspot.com/
Whichever the case, I’m sure you’ll be astonished ;)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Alebrije, the walking jumble

It has been a while since I uploaded something here, right? 5 months to be precise. That’s a lot of time between posts ˆ_ˆ;
I could write about my tribulations, issues and other events that delayed or prevented me to work on the Bestiary, but it wouldn’t do any good, as they are things I must deal with and that are of no consequence to anyone. I also know (hope) that my readers will understand and forgive me for lack of updates. I promise I will do my best to provide more pages on a semi-regular basis. Please bear in mind that I have to translate, fix and design the pages; illustrate 2 or 3 accompanying illustrations for each description, get an illustrator for each different creature, pay them, etc. It’s hard for one person to manage all that.
So, the next creature presented is the alebrije. Curiously enough, this fantastic being is also dream-related (as the baku). Now that I’ve checked the texts so far, there are 5 creatures that have to do with dreams just in the first volume. Anyways, I hope you find this new addition interesting. The illustrator for this one had to be Mexican, as they are an unknown creature outside of my country. That is why I selected my very good, old colleague and friend, Bran, to create it. I knew from the beginning that he’d be able to imprint his style with ease on such subject, as we both like Mexican motifs and traditional figures. I’ve always said it and I will repeat it: Bran is one of the most Mexican artists I know. He mixes pop cultural styles and recognizable details to very national themes, from colors to compositions and figures.
He’s worked in a couple of Mexican animated movies and has been published in magazines.
You can check his work on his DA account: http://totopo.deviantart.com/
And read his musings (Spanish only) on his blog: http://lapuercavida.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baku, the dream-eater

In the original version of the text, there is an order when presenting the creatures. Of course, Volume I consists only of 25 beings whose descriptions are complete. With this I mean that the bibliography, as well as studies are written fully. The other creatures (187 on my last count) are “broken”: the texts are in fragments that need cohesion, narrative and correction.
There is also a small text preceding some of the main creatures of their respective families (elemental spirits, necrozoos, oneirizoos, etc…). These speak about the nature of said element in a philosophical way. So far the most extensive one is about death, but fortunately for me neither it nor the others will be translated and uploaded here. I do this because it may only be of interest to a very low number of people, and because I’d rather not dedicate my time translating something that will go mostly unread. These are my reasons why I shall go directly to presenting the creatures:

Baku will be the first presented. The main illustration was done by my wonderful friend, FSc. She may be known best by her “Nightmares and Fairy Tales” work with Serena Valentino, but she has many more projects that are worth checking out (delightful Chimney 24 and Muzz for example ;) ).

I could tell you just how excited I was to work with her, or how interesting it was to do so (and the same goes for the artists I’ve worked in this so far), but I prefer you just see the effort and visualization put in her image (much more when you know more details about the Baku itself).

Do check out her works at her website: http://fscwasteland.net/
I do recommend reading her online comic, Muzz –also published by SLG– as it’s one of her most complex, most interesting works :D
Her Etsy account: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mignonmushi
And her blog: http://pallidmor.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cover - Preface/Introduction

Today I inaugurate the delivery of my coolaboration with Prof. Steiner: the Phantazoologicum: book of ancient beasts and beings. Although I have placed myself as translator in the initial credits, my work embraces the re-writing of the original texts and, as the Professor would say, "adding the needed lyrism to the otherwise cold, hard data".

It's been two years since I began working on this and this is the first time it will be shown to the public, as publishers here in Mexico have not found it a viable publication. I would like to tell you, dear reader, a bit about the project so you may know the background of it:

It was the year 2008, I was working as translator and style corrector for a couple of publishers and independent writers. My trips to Guanajuato were frequent, the bohemian nature of the city relaxed me and helped me get acquainted with many people. It was because of a conversation during these café reunions I had with a friend that knew of my tastes and fascination for fantasy, surrealism and oneirism that I was invited by Prof. Steiner to coolaborate in this project. This friend had spoken of me to the Professor and he in turn, wrote to me, detailing the idea he had for the book. Of course, I was more than happy to comply and join in, seeing as it was something right up my alley. After a few formalities, I was able to meet this tall, blonde man. His Germanic roots where easily recognizable due to his appearance and his peculiar accent. Chatting with him, I learned he had come to Mexico many years ago (he never said the date), and had fallen in love with my country. He teached philosophy in the University and led a comfortable life. By the looks of his house and the frequency of his travels, I assumed he had inherited a considerable ammount from some relative. I cannot imagine any other way to work on this ambitious project he had in mind, paying the expenses on such long trips around the world and purchasing such large quantities of books.
He had already been working on the Phantazoologicum for 8 years, so he simply needed someone to catalog and synthetyze his texts for most of the creatures. His Spanish was almost perfect, but his compositions were somewhat complicated, too much for the occasional reader. I had a rough time deciphering some of his texts due to the number of quotes and complex ideas proposed in them. My work consisted on fixing this, shortening the texts to make them "readable" and cutting the overly difficult parts. I did research on some of the creatures, using the books in his personal library, but they are the minority.

The Prof. left us on December of 2009. It was after he came back from a trip to Brazil. He just went to sleep and never woke up. I then learned he had no family. Only his colleagues and friends mourned him. I proposed some of his friends and/or acquaintances to finish what he had started, but no one wanted to help with it. It was, as someone said, "an old man's obsession", not worth wasting time on. Perhaps it's because I saw myself reflected on Prof. Steiners hopes, in his illusions, that I insisted on continuing his work. What you read will be that man's work and my desire to share it.

I must note that the preface has been reduced by two and a half pages in which Prof. Steiner delves in certain reality/imaginary issues. Among them, there is an interesting analysis on Castoriadi's beliefs of the imaginary (going as far as proposing both histories, real and fantastic, should be teached the same, as both have formed our modern thoughts and beliefs). There is more, but not so much that would serve the objective of the Phantazoologicum, hence (and by recommendation of editors and friends) I've edited it. Same goes for future texts that were too extense in the original form.

I'm very proud of this project and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did while working on it.

- Javier Romero