Good Stuff: Abomination

25909020Have you ever had to give a book two attempts?

This was one of those for me.

Gary Whitta’s writing goes deep into both the history of the story and the hearts of the characters, delivering a full, rich immersion into a very real and immediate-feeling Dark-Ages England.

The first time I tried to read Abomination I think I was restless. I usually prefer books that read like a Luc Besson movie; Pow! pow! Blam! …sexy bit… gogoGO BIG FINISH and explode.

messin-wit-besson

Yeah, like that.

Maybe that makes me seem shallow. I dunno. I just get very impatient sometimes. I needed a book that moved fast like a river. Gary Whitta’s writing is more like an ocean current – deep, wide, but don’t think it’s not moving! I promise you, this book takes the werewolf/monster genre to thrilling, brutal, emotionally vibrant new places. (Fun fact: it’s not a wolf.)

The magic, the richness of the characters, the grotesquerie of the fiends in the fully-realized and very immediate historical setting stayed in my mind, and pulled me back when I was ready for a book to really sink into. The light is failing. Autumn’s closing in. Nights are growing longer. Time for a book about grappling with the darkness that lurks within all or us, eh?

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Good Stuff: Bricking the Profane: Tyler Haliwell and Mihai Marius Mihu

TitanI’m a Lug, an AFOL. I mainline ABS. It’s a physical, hands-on “ach my fingers hurt and I’m so happy!” break from all this damn writing. Uses different parts of the brain. I tend to build vehicles, mecha, stuff with too many bloody moving parts. I’ve made some cool stuff, but I rarely achieve “art”. When I say art, I mean a finished product you just want to stare at. Something beautiful, haunting, alluring, so elegantly crafted that you even forget you’re looking at a collection of right-angled plastic bricks and you start feeling things. Emotions. Meaning. Resonance. Art.

Today I am featuring some true lego artists, tackling one of my favorite subjects – Hell. Not to sound creepy or nuthin’, but I freakin’ dig Hell and anthing having to do with Angels/Fallen, from Greek mythology to Dante to The Prophecy to Hellboy. Oh, and don’t forget Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey – seminal work of the Infernal Canon.

Favorite painter – Hell’s own architect Wayne Barlowe.

Favorite metal album – Iced Earth’s Burnt Offerings, which concludes with a 16-minute re-telling of Dante’s Inferno that punches down, down, down into pits of metal brutality so heavy even the flames are black. I’ve embedded the song for you, and highly recommend it as musical accompaniment for the remainder of this post.

Why hell, when I have such a sunny disposition? Whether you believe in Hell or not, I don’t think you should fear examining darkness. Hell is born of our most terrible fears and nightmares, from the ugliest parts of our souls. By examining this part of ourselves – not hiding it away – we can only grow to understand ourselves and our common pain and fears better, and thus love and fellow-feeling will grow. You must understand the darkness to appreciate the light. From a storytelling point of view, Hell is one of the most stunning environments you could ask for. Good stories inspire us with the human spirit triumphing over adversity. Well, where can such a light of hope shine any brighter than from the soul of hero struggling and overcoming in the darkest of all environments?

Go read God’s Demon by Wayne Barlowe and see if your heart doesn’t resonate with the audacity, perseverance, courage and sorrow of the book’s heroes. There is NO HOPE where they are. And yet… they strive.

But enough philosophical framework. Let’s GO TO LEGO HELL!

Mocists Mihai Marius Mihu and Tyler Halliwell have recently collaborated to build scenes from the rivers of Hell. Their compositions, including the main scenes and accompanying detailed character studies are well-researched, twisted and draw inspiration from centuries of Western literature and mythology. Living landscapes of malevolent intent grow on the bodies of shattered and mutated titans, while souls wallow in everlasting, insignificant torture.

See their entire Rivers of Hell gallery on their photostream here.

I won’t go into any further detail or analysis of the pieces. I’ll just post a the images and let the art speak for itself. Click on any image to navigate to the artists’ own page for that work.

Tyler Halliwell

styx

Styx

Lethe

Lethe

Phlegethon

Phlegethon

I haven’t followed Tyler for long, but I do recommend you check out his busts.
Snicker.

dream

Mihai Marius Mihu

Cocytus

Cocytus

Acheron

Acheron

I’ve been a follower of Mihai for a while, and he’s no newcomer to Hell artwork. I’d call him the Wayne Barlowe of Lego. His busts of demons in brown and gold and other demonic works are disturbing, eldrich and beautiful, while his owls are adorably malevolent. His Nine Circles of Hell are completely epic. But if I had to name one favorite piece of his, I would point at the Citadel of the Loud Curse. I don’t even know what it is, it is just so gross and compelling in its scale, overbearing atmosphere, and profane blend of gothic and organic.

Citadel of the Loud Curse

Citadel of the Loud Curse

I thank you for reading. I hope you like the artworks I’ve spotlighted here. On th other hand, if you’re creeped out or disturbed, that’s good too. It’s always good to shine a light on beautiful creative works, be they bright or dark.