Like London buses, after a six month hiatus I’m posting my second blog entry of this weekend. Today it’s three monsters from Greek mythology – a harpy, Medusa, and the Lernaean Hydra. All of them Citadel Miniatures in the original lead, so I’m not sure whether the myths or the minis are more ancient.
In India there is a beast called the manticore. It has a triple row of teeth, the face of a man, and grey eyes; it is blood-red in colour and has a lion’s body, a pointed tail with a sting like a scorpion, and a hissing voice. It delights in eating human flesh.
The Folio Society’s English version of the Bodleian Bestiary, p.63
I’m definitely not going to start a miniature bestiary (if ‘A’ is for ambull then ‘Z’ is for zombie dragon). I’ve got loads of other things to work on already, deadlines at work (‘Z’ is for zoat), and my final university assignment in a couple of months (‘z’ is for Zygor Snake Arms). But enough idle plans! I’ve painted a Rogue Trader ambull, and that’s all I’ve got for today.
A couple of weeks ago Mierce Miniatures had a two for one sale on monsters. They’re big, they’re amazingly detailed and full of character, and they’re produced by an independent British company. Consequently they’re also quite expensive at regular retail price – the smaller monsters start at around £30.00 but the really big guys are significantly more, so a two-for-one offer is a rare opportunity. So even though I definitely don’t have time to take on any new projects, I bought four of the medium-to-large sized monsters from their ‘Darklands’ range – a bargain, and at the speed I paint enough to keep me going for a few months or more.
An owlbear’s screech echos through dark valleys and benighted forests, piercing the quiet night to announce the death of its prey. Feathers cover the thick, shaggy coat of its bearlike body, and the limpid pupils of its great round eyes stare furiously from its owlish head.
D&D 5E Monster Manual, p.249
Inspired by a cheap, plastic toy dinosaur manufactured in China and sold in discount shops throughout the US and UK, the owlbear is one of the most emblematic creatures of the D&D bestiary. We haven’t encountered one yet in Shin High Terror, but they’ve been mentioned a couple of times – first by a grizzled old mercenary who lost his eye to one in single combat, and second when I started making explicit checks to see if any were around. Obviously I had to paint one.
I’ve been working on this drawing for a long time – on and off, about a decade and a half. I suppose I probably did the pencil sketch around the time I first read H. P. Lovecraft’s short stories, and that the BBC documentary series Blue Planet might have brought me some inspiration. That dates the idea for the drawing back to around 2001. Of course, she and her abominable kin have lurked around the watery edges of our world for millennia longer.