IMAGE By WALTER CRANE, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, 1875.
We take the phrase “once upon a time” for granted, but if you think about it, it’s quite oddball English.
Upon a time—? That’s just a strange construction. It would be pleasant to know its history: When, more or less, does it get up on its legs? Around when does it become standard procedure? My researches into this question, however, have yielded nothing conclusive.
Forget “upon a time.” Look at the “once.” That part really is standard from the beginning, and not only in English. Just this past weekend, I paged through fifteen volumes of the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, and I’m here to tell you:
The word once is in the first sentence of almost every single folktale every recorded, from China to Peru. There is some law of physics involved.
Folktales get right down to business, no fooling around. Once there was an old king who had two sons. Once there was a poor lace merchant who decided to make a trip. And if it doesn’t say “once,” it will say “a long time ago.” A long time ago, the fox and the hen were good friends. A long time ago, there was a man who had a shaving brush for a nose and who had two daughters, et cetera.
Why should it always be a long time ago. That’s easy. If you said, “When I was a girl, there was an old man in this village … ” you’d be opening yourself up for interruptions. Where is that old man now? Where are his two sons? But if the story took place a long, long time ago, or simply in undefined and undefinable history (“once”), interruptions will be … fewer.
I want to mention that not one story in Grimms’ Fairytales actually begins “once upon a time.” German doesn’t have that expression. They just say “once.”
How can we not feature something that boasts airships, Arctic wastes, tentacles and sensuality – all at once? Impossible, I say! So here is the “Airships and Tentacles” Series by Myke Amend, combining Vernian and Lovecraftian atmosphere and concepts into strange-fiction fantasy horror mashups:
—- What are your influences, besides the obvious Lovecraft references and airship-induced themes?
“I would count my artistic influences over my lifetime as: Gustav Dore, Pieter Brueghel (the Elder mostly, but I admire the entire family’s work) Zdzislaw Beksinski, Bethalynne Bajema, Michael Whelan, Derek Riggs, Dave McKean, and Gerald Brom – though recently I have found myself very drawn by the works of newer artists such as Brian Despain, Travis Louie, Chet Zar, and Chris Mars.
I don’t see any of which really showing in my works, regretfully, but they are there – each encouraging me to try something new and experimental in the styling, media, or feel of each work I do.
I am also influenced by the written works of Edgar Allen Poe, Algernon Blackwood, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Robert W. Chambers, Gordon R. Dickson, Tolkien, Jules Verne, Terry Brooks, H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Neil Gaiman, and Warren Ellis.
In my teen years, it was music – gloomy gothy music, deathrock, horror punk ordered by mail or shared through duplicated cassettes – and the largest assortment of obscure and semi-unknown metal and progressive metal bands – many of which I picked out of the music store almost entirely according to their album art, hence Derek Riggs (Illustrator for Iron Maiden) listed in my artistic influences.
Most influential, especially in my youth, outside of Dungeons and Dragons and Dark Sun campaigns, were the entire series of Final Fantasy games, the Dragon Warrior games, as well as Chrono-Cross and Chrono Trigger – leading into my earlier adult years with games such as the Heroes of Might and Magic series, Xenosaga, Dark Cloud, and Dark Cloud II.
Audio-visual eye-candy tends to grab me more than anything else these days. This perhaps because I regrettably find myself with less time for reading or for visiting my favorite museums.
Doctor Who, Torchwood, The Golden Compass, Stardust, Mirrormask, Pan’s Labyrinth, City of Lost Children, Chronos, Howl’s Moving Castle, Casshern, Brazil, the Adventures of Baron Munchausen account for much of what I have been doing over this last year or so.”
“The Machine” was done for for Josh Pfeiffer/the Steampunk Industrial Band “Vernian Process”.
Taken recently off the coast of Bali, these surreal photos are the creation of Montreal-based director and photographer Benjamin Von Wong, known for his exceedingly difficult photoshoots.
Where it might be more practical to create the complex aspects of these photos digitally,
Von Wong took a different path and assembled a team of two models who also happen to be trained freedivers, 7 additional support divers, and obtained special permission to utilize a 50-year-old underwater shipwreck.
The entire shoot took place 25 meters below the surface, and because of the extreme conditions and limitations, he relied heavily on natural light to create the final images you see here.