Story and art by: Okayado MSRP: $12.99 Release date: August 11, 2015
Kimihito’s eyes are about to pop. The mothers of not one, not two, but three of the monster girls who live with him are coming for a visit. It doesn’t help that this trio of mothers is every bit of sexy as their daughters—and just as dangerous to Kimihito’s mental and physical well-being. Stuck in the middle between the mothers and their daughters, Kimihito learns more than he ever wanted to know about the mating habits of lamia, harpies, and centaurs, while repeatedly facing the possibility of an ecstatically painful death. Fur, feathers and scales are about to fly, as Kimihito’s hide hangs in the balance!
It’s been a while since we checked in on how the Renaissance is doing with its ocean mysteries, so here is a marine biology update circa 1550.
Seals come in two forms:
Walruses are horrifying
But whales are worse
Fish can have human faces
but not always where you’d expect
As for the rest
… it’s probably better left alone.
[All images except chest face fish from Historiae animalium liber IV : De piscium & aquatilium animantium natura. Chest face fish from The noble lyfe & natures of man of bestes, serpentys, fowles & fisshes yt be moste knowen]
Slate presents an amazing, interactive digital version of Olaus Magnus’ 1539 Carta Marina, a chart that portrays the sea as teeming with monsters…
When the chart was made, in the early years of the Age of Exploration, there was a lingering belief in the existence of griffins, unicorns, dragons, the phoenix, the monstrous races, and a host of other unnatural creatures. Modern science was in its infancy. Although adherents to the direct observation of nature would soon challenge hearsay and tradition and begin to classify animal life, at the time the medieval imagination was still free to shape its own forms of the natural world. The chart’s giant lobster gripping a swimmer in its claws, a monster being mistaken for an island, and a mast-high serpent devouring sailors would have represented actual fears of the unknown deep.
Those and Olaus’ other fanciful sea beasts are not mere decorations to fill empty spaces. Nor are they only visual metaphors for dangers lurking in the sea. Intended as representations of actual marine life, they are identified in the map’s key.
Click through to Slate to explore the stories of each creature, and read more on the chart’s origins…
A visually stunning new book, Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, covers a topic of history, that until now, has not been published in a comprehensive collection. The book’s author Chet Van Duzer, a Medieval and Renaissance map scholar, joined forces with the British Library, who published the book. The book’s jacket liner bests explains its content:
Here be dragons and other awesome works of sculpture. These fantastic creatures are the work of Toronto-based sculptor and illustrator Bailey Henderson for an ongoing series entitled Monstrorum Marines. Each bronze sculpture, painted with acrylics and powdered pigment, depicts one of the monstrous beasts or fearsome creatures found on medieval and Renaissance period maps where they were used by cartographers to illustrate the epic dangers faced by sailors on the open seas.
“There’s Ziphius, a bird-faced orca rumored to slice boats in half with its dorsal fin; the cockatrice, a rooster-dragon known to kill by breathing on its victims; and the pinniped, a dog-like seal with protruding tusks. Henderson’s work is often whimsical and humorous, and brings with it a bit of history that makes it all the more fascinating.”
We love the realistic style that Henderson employs for this series. It makes us a little sorry there aren’t actually rooster-dragons, boar-fish, dog-seals and bird-faced orca out in the world’s vast seas and oceans. Or are there?
At this point it’s been pretty conclusively established that the ocean is weird, but one of weirder marine phenomena I’ve encountered is the sea monk or sea bishop, an animal that was sighted of the coast of Poland in 1531, washed up on Danish shores in the late 1540s and went the 16th century equivalent of viral.*
*This of course had nothing whatsoever to do with the Protestant Reformation or Henry the Eighth declaring himself head of the Church of England. Scientific interest only.
Pretty much every major work on fish in the next 100 years included one:
Guillaume Rondelet (1554) [“human features, but with a coarse and rude outline […] the head was shaved and smooth; the shoulders were covered by a cape.”]
Pierre Belon (1551)
Conrad Gesner (1558)
Richard Breton (1562) [Breton was a Protestant, which may explain the increased levels of eldritch]
Caspar Schott (1662)
Johann Zahn (1696)
And a late entry: this abomination from Robert Chamber’s The Book of Days (1869)
Explanations for these include most of the usual contenders: monk seals, grey seals, hooded seals, walruses, angel sharks, deliberate fraud of the Jenny Haniver variety, Steenstrup’s ever popular ‘squid doing victory arms’.
An avid enthusiast of mythology and cartography, Toronto-based artist Bailey Hendersonsculpts the fearsome sea creatures depicted on medieval and Renaissance-era maps. She brings her bronze sculptures to life with acrylic paint and powdered pigment, creating dimensional versions of the mythical beasts sailors once feared. There’s Ziphius, a bird-faced orca rumored to slice boats in half with its dorsal fin; the cockatrice, a rooster-dragon known to kill by breathing on its victims; and the pinniped, a dog-like seal with protruding tusks. Henderson’s work is often whimsical and humorous, and brings with it a bit of history that makes it all the more fascinating.