Monday, November 28, 2011

Alphabeasts: G is for Grue

The poll for this week's Alphabeasts entry told me to draw "a fearsome beast no one has ever seen."

Well, if you were playing text-adventure games in the '80s, you know exactly what is likely to eat you if you spend too long in pitch-black darkness.

That's right, friends: this week, G is for grue.

There are, so far as I know, no canonical illustrations of the grue, which after all always ate you before you saw it. So I guess I have some latitude.

When I was zorking around as a teen I always pictured them looking a lot like the aliens from last year's Attack the Block. (Let me digress briefly to say that I want to thank "Film Crit Hulk" for convincing me to see that movie. You can Netflix the DVD, y'all, and it's really good.)

I really love that design, and in the movie it's way more effective: the monsters just absorb all light, except for the blue luminescence of their own teeth. They're scary. My impression is that if these aliens actually have a name, however, it does not start with G.

Also, these aliens have no compunctions about entering a well-lit area.

If you want to see genuinely photophobic aliens—so leery of light that they actually get called grues by some people—then you'll need to look to Pitch Black, which is also a pretty good movie, I think, though getting a good look at the monsters in it is in the end sort of disappointing.

Of course it's better when they exist only as menacing sounds in the darkness. It always is.

But, you know, looking at those weird wyverns from the Vin Diesel movie, I can't help wondering why they don't like the light. They don't seem to have eyes, or to need them. How do they know that the suns are shining? And they sure appear to be the top predators on their planet, so its not like the cockroach's negative phototaxis, scurrying away from the things that might eat them.

I figure the grue must live in nearly total darkness, but still mostly hunt with its eyes. There are deep-sea fish like this, and it's at least a semi-reasonable explanation for why the grue would avoid even a lit match. The bright light must burn.

So, long story short, I set about to design a grue of my own, with great big eyes, powerful claws, and a big jaw full of teeth (all the better to eat you with).

There's not much room in that body for a stomach, but I'm sure the grue has some adaptation to deal with the digestion problem.

Let me know if you want to see any "process" images for these finished color versions. I took three different coloring approaches in Photoshop this week.

...And next week? An alphabeast from my very favorite book to read aloud.


Curious Art said...

Outstanding critters, Isaac! wonderfully grue-some.

I await next week's with great anticipation, too-- I love a good read-aloud.

Loops O'Fury said...

Oh man, I've never heard of a grue. I feel like such an inadequate nerd.

My favorite creature in this post is the light-absorbing guy with the blue teeth. That's such a cool idea. I'm going to have to search for that movie later.

Isaac said...

I'm sure you're adequately nerdy, Lupi. You just have to have been into text-adventure games at a particular moment in the mid-'80s. It was a long time ago. I think MC Frontalot must be about the same age as I am.

As for Attack the Block, I thoroughly recommend it. The other day, I was describing it as being like Die Hard if you replaced Bruce Willis with a gang of scruffy poor English kids in the projects, and the German terrorists with badass alien monsters. If that sounds like a good recipe for a movie, get it in your Netflix cue.