Monster Monday: the Dearg-Due

There is a prevailing custom in some older cultures, one in which you take extra care to cover the graves of the recently deceased with stones (or boulders). The reason for which might be as simple as not having any dirt around to backfill the grave, or, if you live in Ireland, it’s a lesson learned from ages passed.

Rock-Covered-Grave-300x215

Her name is long forgotten, but her legend lives on. Not for the beauty she radiated in life, but for the terror she harvested in death. She is the Dearg-Due, the Red Blood Drinker. She was once a legendary beauty, born to a family of means and highly sought after. Her heart, though, belonged to a peasant, which ultimately brought about her doom.

The young lady’s family had come into hard times, and her father wished to marry her off to a wealthy family to bring much needed funds into his coffers. A bride-price was settled, and the unfortunate woman was shipped off to her new husband’s estate.

Sadly, the groom was a terrible man. He relished acts of cruelty, and loved to inflict harm on his new bride. He would cut her perfect skin, and delight in the contrast of ruddy crimson against her pale, flawless flesh. When he wasn’t abusing her, he locked her away in a tower so that none but him could see her.

The young woman held out for hope that her beloved would mount a rescue, or that her father would come to his senses and ask for the marriage to be annulled. She struggled in this manner for several months, oblivious to the fact that her father was drunk with his new-found return to wealth, and that her beloved had perished in a mysterious fire.

Eventually, her will to carry on was extinguished. She stopped eating. She stopped drinking. She no longer resisted the cruelty inflicted upon her by her spouse. She renounced her faith, renounced her heart, and slowly, painfully, ceased to live.

The people of her village were devastated. Some, perhaps, knew what had been happening to the young woman but kept their mouths shut, and were now reflecting on their own complicity in her death. She was buried, and she was mourned. A great depression settled over the area.

The very night she was buried, a young man disappeared from his bed. His brother, whom he shared a room with, said that he dreamt of a beautiful song coming from the nearby woods, and a soft, soothing voice urging him to come and dance. He dreamt that his brother slipped on his shoes and climbed out the window, then stumbled off into the misty woodlands.

Several days passed, and the young man remained missing. Search parties were sent out, and returned without news. Finally, the boy was found; pale, lifeless and limp, in a ditch that ran alongside the graveyard. His body had been drained of blood, countless lesions and cuts marked the skin all over his arms and chest.

Panic settled over the village; one of their own had been murdered, and the graveyard had been vandalized as well. The grave of the greatly wronged beauty had been defiled, and her corpse was nowhere to be seen. People began to whisper of dark forces being at work, and wished ever harder that they had intervened before the young woman had perished.

The tragedies that befell that tiny village went on for years. Young men would wander out into the mists, never to be seen again. Children would sit up from their sleep, muttering about the wonderful songs they heard in their dreams, and struggle to leave their homes. Newly born babes would disappear in the night. Search parties were sent out day after day, but they, too, began to go missing.

Those poor folk that survived knew in their hearts that the creature that preyed on their young was one of their own creation, a fiend born of neglect and silence in the face of cruelty.

The little village grew smaller, the fields grew fallow. The woods began to creep closer to people’s homes. The water in the streams tasted of copper. Eventually, the people of the village had the good sense to flee, and never return.

Some say the Dearg-Due is still there, wandering the woods and calling out, singing a haunting siren’s song of loss, tragedy and yearning.

One thing is certain, though; the legacy of the Dearg-Due can still be seen to this day, at cemeteries all over the country. Graves, once filled, are topped with stones, all to discourage the recently dead from returning to settle the grievances left from life.

Dearg-Due
©2016  Leigh George Kade

The State of My Union, part One

It’s been a roller-coaster of a month. Sales on Grimmleigh’s Beastly Oddities are still clocking in at a better than (I) anticipated rate, which is really super exciting. The down side? Well, I really need to get more work done on the follow-up book, Grimmleigh’s Classic Monsters.

I have two completed pages, and I am applying lessons learned from the first book to these images. First off, I’m drawing the backgrounds separately, which is allowing me to experiment with the sizing of the characters on the finished page. This should cut down on characters getting clipped during the print process, since I am going for a full bleed on the layout.

Here’s the background for a daycare center:

Messy Room

Now, with the Vampire Brides from last week:

Vampire Brides

Concept sketches are done for another 8 monsters, so I will be spending the next few weeks getting those ironed out, backgrounds rendered, then layouts. I aim for 23 coloring pages in each book, plus stories, so it’s a bit of a process!

Progress on Grimmleigh’s Morbid Stories for Dreadful Children is coming along nicely, with page 23 posting to Tapastic last night, and pencils for page 24 and 25 in the rough stage. I am hoping to get back to a weekly posting schedule with that story!

Going back through previous pages, I realized that I need to go back and re-work a number of pages. Some of the previous pages are formatted differently, and I need to get a unified font size in place. Luckily, that will just make everything flow better, so I am happy about that. I also realized that I forgot to even introduce the Miller, which is probably just a smidge confusing.

The real challenge for this next week is going to be Salt Lake Comic Con. I have a ton of panels, three live recording sessions of Geekshow, and a role playing game scenario to create. That being said, I’m setting a personal goal to keep daily posts going here!

Workbench Wednesday: Sewer Edition

Odin’s Day again? Time for another look at what’s on the workbench!

Work on Morbid Stories for Dreadful Children continues, with Volume One: The Miller’s Daughters about two-thirds finished. Here are the pencils for page 23:

IMG_0137

I am laying in digital inks now, and will feature a time-lapse film of the finished art on Friday! For a look at the scripted breakdown of page 23, take a look here!

The next coloring book is underway as well, with pencil concepts making way for some background art. First up, a Nosferatu who has the unfortunate job of Sewer Inspector:

IMG_0133

Here’s the finished inks for the sewer:

IMG_0132

Rough concept for the Phantom of the Opera, who landed a terrible gig as a Karaoke DJ:

IMG_0135

These will be featured in Grimmleigh’s Classic Monsters (with terrible jobs), which I am expecting to have available in late September!

And these two are super rough speed sketches that I put together while watching old Hammer Horror movies the other night. The tree scene will probably be used with a vampire or in one of the fairy tales, and the graveyard will be for a Slavic grave goblin:

IMG_0136  IMG_0134

I really am drawn to floating apparitions in the woods…

Thanks again for stopping by! If you like what you see, feel free to click that “follow” button! I update nearly every day, and subscribers get a handy e-mail notification when new content is posted!

Have a great one!

 

 

 

 

 

Workbench Wednesday: Sucky Job Edition

Here’s a look at what I have going on this week on the “workbench,” which is actually a couple of spiral-bound sketchbooks. Unless I’m sculpting, in which case it really is a workbench.

My creative process is pretty wonky, but it works for me. I sit down with a paper and pen, and just start doodling. I learned this (and a lot more) from a few Jake Parker videos at the awesome Society of Visual Storytelling. Just sitting pen to paper gets the hand warmed up, and gets your brain synched up with your fingers. From there, you either end up with some ideas that you can expand on, or you just spent some time warming up. If ideas come, I work on those next, if it’s a warm-up session, I try and work on projects that I started earlier. Most of this happens between 11pm and 3am, which seems to be when I am at my most creative.

This week has been all about the (surprise!) monsters. I started out working on a new book project chock full of mythological monsters from around the world, but my brain decided that it wanted to draw classic movie monsters with lousy jobs.

A couple of these will get expanded upon, and probably end up in one of the books. The old Strigoi might end up in something else altogether; he’s just the right amount of creepy, so I’ll flag him in the creepy file for later.

Monster Monday: the Nachzehrer

My Spectral Consultant whispered something into my ear last night.

Regular content is a must if you are going to make it in this world..” it whispered. Then it licked my ear. CREEPY. I opened my eyes, and my dog was standing on my chest, staring at me. Could my chihuahua actually be my Spectral Consultant? Impossible.

I’m listening to my consultant, though. Dog, Daemon, or daisy, it was right. I need regular stuffs to keep the peeps coming back. I like monsters. YOU like monsters (please like monsters). So, let’s check out a monster!

This week, we’re going to travel to the middle of Olde Europe, and take a look at a rather twisted sort of vampire. It’s hungry. It’s dead. It likes the taste of pyjamas.

My fellow cognizants, please keep flash photography to a minimum. It’ll eat you. Please extend a hearty hello to the Nachzehrer.

nachzehrer close
“Get your own shroud!”

The Middle Ages were tough, folks. People were dropping off like flies, mostly due to diseases that simple hygiene and a lack of raw sewage could have helped prevent. But, if there is one constant in the human condition, we will look to the supernatural for the cause of a problem, even if the physical world is crawling with the answer.

Scared people were desperate to explain why so many friends and neighbors were wasting away. It couldn’t be the piles of trash and roving rat colonies, so it was most likely some sort of malevolent entity. Maybe someone who was already dead… Far easier to rationalize Uncle Peebo coming back to life than think too much about the river of poo you had to jump over to get to your job at the muck sorting factory.

This is pretty much the conclusion people in parts of Germany and Poland came to. Whole families were dying, and it was probably because someone in the family shuffled off this mortal coil, got bored, got hungry, then came back to eat mom and dad. If the first person in the family to die took their own life, that made the evidence even more damning.

The Nachzehrer would feast off the life energy of its victims, causing them to waste away. It was a lot easier for people to believe that a vampire was killing everyone in town than dysentery or plague, so the belief spread and people kept on dying.

The Nachzehrer was a bit quirky, even for this period of time. They really liked the taste of their funeral shrouds, so if you were hunting one, all you had to do was hold really still and listen; the Nachzehrer could be heard calmly munching away on its clothes. They also liked to sleep in their tombs, sucking on its shroud with one eye open, clutching its own thumb.

Nachzehrer Sleeping
“munch…munch… munch”

The Nachzehrer was also a bit of a show-off, and liked to climb into church towers during the dead of night and ring the bells. Anyone who heard the bells ringing during the night was most likely to die. It’s also said that the shadow of a Nachzehrer would kill anyone it came into contact with, and something about them being able to turn into pigs, but that’s just goofy.

If you found a Nachzehrer, you could end its killing spree by placing a coin in its mouth then chopping off its head. The coin would paralyze the vamp for some reason, which we can just chalk up to Middle Ages Logic. There is even evidence that some overzealous hunter skipped the coin altogether; the remains of a woman in Venice were found in a plague grave with a brick shoved between her teeth. That’ll show her!

Nachzehrer

I will be featuring a Nachzehrer in an upcoming book; this drawing was the first coloring page, but I’m going to re-do it; something about the Nachzehrer’s passion for garment eating is too good to pass up!

Is there an old monster you would like to see highlighted here? Let me know in the comments section!