Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dead Things That Have A Life of Their Own (perhaps not for sensitive readers)

In fairy tales, little girls bravely face hungry wolves, get picked on by vindictive old ladies who do magic or ogres with attitude problems and somehow still manage to live happily ever after - usually without needing so much as a plaster, never mind trauma counseling. In comic books, they are sometimes not quite so lucky. Especially not when ill-fated by a creator who takes his inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe. I'm talking about Lenore. You have to admit, she is cute, despite the skull shaped hair slides and her morbid little circle of accomplices such as Ragamuffin and Mr Gosh. Which just goes to show. In the world of graphic novels, being dead doesn't necessary stop you getting around and having fun.

Roman Dirge, Lenore's creator is, however, not the only one who draws inspiration from a slightly icky subject.

A certain British manufacturer specializes in a line of toys that might well belong within the pages of the latest issue of Lenore. They call their product Road Kill Toys. Although still fluffy and sort of huggable, road kill toys are designed to look, well, battered, with bloodshot eyes, and innards that can be zippered up or left hanging out.

If you want to get serious about the subject of earthly remains, you might want to explore a little book entitled 'Stiff' by Mary Roach. It explores what happens to dead bodies after the souls that drove them have departed. The book makes fascinating, if gloomy reading. You will learn, for instance, about the Egyptian pharaoh, who was himself an enthusiastic dissector of the bodies of executed criminals and the surgeon who dissected both his father and his sister in the name
of science. The author reports on her visits to an embalmer, a medical school and an educational facility that studies the process of decomposition. And then there is the anecdotal story of a well-known artist who alleges to have dined on human flesh with a group of fellow students. True or false? I'm not sure I particularly want to know...


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