Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arctic Myths - Grizzly People

I believe I've spoken of these supernatural characters form Arctic mythology before. The Grizzly People are typical examples of the myths and legends told by the Inuit people. The Grizzly Beings are animal, human hybrids which feature prominently in Inuit lore.There are also Wolf People and Seal People. Here the Grizzly People are large human characters with bear like attributes and modes of behavior. They hunt and eat humans,  rob graves and scavenge human camp sites. They are very large and very dangerous.

It was decided that we should have a Grizzly Being on the title page of the book we're just finishing up and so this first illustration shows just such a one, menacing and striding toward us, having just decided we are something worth adding to the menu.. He is big and rather misshapen and carries a large Inuit spear, which is just as likely to be used for digging as it is for hunting. I like to depict these fellows with bags or satchels because they are scavengers and I can imagine them traveling about with bits of old meat, bone and other edibles picked up on previous foraging operations.

In this second illustration we see a Grizzly Man with a fresh body he has just pulled from a grave.  He is scruffy and dirty which is typical for them and much in need of the bath he will never ever have and the dentist he will never ever visit.  These pictures are for a new collection of Arctic stories from Inhabit Media entitled The Shadows That Rush Past, A Collection of Frightening Inuit Folktales. These stories are historically the kinds of stories told to children in order to teach them survival lessons and this book is for children also - Inuit children. There are plans to release these books in English but as far as I know not many of them have yet been translated.

You can find out more about Inhabit Media here - http://www.inhabitmedia.com/

I'll have more for you shortly



Debie Lyons said...

Larry I love your work, its wonderful. You are very talented.

Debie xxx

Oya's Daughter said...

I really love seeing mythology which isn't the usual sort. Nice job - I especially like the shambling gait on the first one; I've seen grizzlies in the wild and you've got that sort of pigeon-toed walk down in the first painting. Thanks so much for the link, going to peruse it!

Larry MacDougall said...

Debie - than-you so much.

Larry MacDougall said...

O.D. - I completely agree. One of the aspects of this project that intrigued me the most was the fact that many of these tales have not really been illustrated before. There's no reference to check. We're deciding how these characters are going to look and that is very exciting.

Sarah Fogg said...

These are gorgeous, I love your work with non-european mythology. I've heard of some of these stories before, but never seen illustrations for them, it's really exciting to see such detailed pictures!

I hope the books can be published in English too, I feel like there's a tragic dearth of stories from other cultures in the English-speaking market. I'd definitely buy it.

Larry MacDougall said...

Hi Sarah - Thanks so much. I agree - the Inuit mythology is very exciting and for us, "English speakers", still quite new. There are many stories and mythic creatures and we have just scratched the surface. There is a lot more to come.

Aeris said...

Your work is amazing!!

Larry MacDougall said...

Aeris - very kind of you to say so - thanks :)

Aljo said...

Great artwork!

On the 'scarry tales as means of teaching children': I quite support that - and Terry Pratchett in his book, the Folklore of Discworld (together with Jacqueline Simpson), they elaborate just on such thought: how the elves and fairies used to be scarry creatures that took children away, if they weren't carefull and strayed into the forest ... much like the Grizzly Beings ..
Would like to get my hands on that book, I would!
Best regards,

Craig Phillips said...


Elder Gutknecht said...

Fantatic work
I have just seen a new range of miniature based on your artic myths ( i hope the creators contact with you )
Read the book "the terror" from Dan Simmons a few months ago, and it´s cool to see on paper what could have happen to Franklin expedition
Waiting to buy the book