Zach barbenclaw with text

Monsters of the Week: Bhaerenbarbenclaaw, The Howlers, & Rusalka

In this post I wanted to talk a little bit about the origins behind the idea for the character of The Rusalka, featured in Zachariah Thorn Issue #1.

When I started formulating the basic premise for Indigo Comics Zachariah Thorn, I was drawing influences from a lot of places. I wanted to do something that was in the same vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The X-Files in the sense that I wanted to do “Monster of the Week” stories with a bit of a pulp influence.

I asked my friend and Indigo Comics contributor, Ryan Miller, to draw me a monster.  All I really wanted was to see my main character illustrated fighting something. I didn’t give Ryan any notes and I just set him loose. Below are some old sketches he did…

 

What I found was Ryan had created something much more wonderful than I could have dreamed up and it was the result of just giving an artist an opportunity to stretch their creative legs and create something out of thin air. I decided that I wanted my book to be filled with all kinds of beasties and monsters of all shapes and colors. That is when I decided that, in my story, not only is Zachariah Thorn the heir to an ancient dark mystic but the very act of summoning the magic contained within the medallion would awaken the forces of darkness that had laid dormant for a millenium.

Now I have an excuse to write monsters and lots of them! The only problem is now I actually have to create them. I blatantly stole the name “Howlers” from an episode of X-Files (though the nature of the thing in the episode I stole it from is completely different). In my head the Howlers sound like the wolf from American Werewolf in London (link). The Bhaerenbarbenclaaw is based on the sketch that Ryan Miller drew (the name comes from me wanting it to simply look ridiculous when you read it and that I wanted something with 5 syllables like the Necronomicon).

Now I had two monsters but the Bhaerenbarbenclaaw will be part of larger ongoing stories and the Howlers are on the page very much in the first issue so I wanted to add something else. The Rusalka was the result of researching folklore from different countries around the world. I found that in Slavic Mythology they have their own version of what we might call a Mermaid.

So after I settled on the Rusalka as the other monster I wanted to feature in the first book, I did a google image search to get some reference material for the Zachariah Thorn artist, Bonkz Seriosa. In the case of this villainous creature, I had a stronger idea in my head of what I wanted her to look like…

The reference images I provided to the artist…

The final result…

There you have it, idea -> reality. That’s why I love making comics!

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