Tag Archives: Frankenstein

Of Brides and Breaking Wheels

In my intense need to share the joys of the High Holy Holiday of Halloween I’m going to be posting a few of my paintings as household goodies this week — starting with “Song of the Goldfinch” which you can snag as a pillow (available in three different sizes).  If you can’t wait and wanna read the rest of this later, you can pick it up right here! 


And as a tote bag, also in 3 sizes …


These are images of my painting “Song of the Goldfinch”, part of the Monster Ballads series, where I was thinking (as I often seem to do) about what it means to be a “monster”. In this series, the classic creatures were all depicted as martyrs — because if you think about it, The Bride of Frankenstein didn’t exactly ask to be dug up and reanimated. Her companion, the goldfinch, often appeared in Renaissance paintings as a symbol for the soul, resurrection, sacrifice and death. I see it as a messenger who can travel between two worlds.

In many historical painting of martyrs they are depicted holding the object of their martyrdom (aka “the thing used to kill them”). Saint Catherine of Alexandria was sentenced to be crushed to death by a spiked “breaking wheel”, so you often seen her with what looks like a big old wagon wheel at her side like she was Loretta Lynn’s great, great, great, grandma.


Awful as it must have been, it didn’t work (“at her touch this instrument of torture was miraculously destroyed”), so the Roman Emperor Maxentius, who was already pretty pissed because he’d offered to get Catherine out of this nasty jam by marrying her (an offer she declined, explaining she was already married to Jesus), decided to have her beheaded. Unfortunately her miraculous way with wheels didn’t seem to apply to blades, and this attempt on her life was entirely too successful. This is why you often also see Catherine with a sword, or sometimes both a sword and a wheel. I particularly like the smashed wheel in this one:


In my painting the Bride is holding the instrument of her death which, according the heartbreaking film “The Bride of Frankenstein” by James Whale, is fire. The fire that the monster set when his bride-to-be rejected him and he decided “We belong dead.” (This movie makes me cry every time, people. Every. Time. “Friend?” Cue the waterworks.)

"Song of the Goldfinch", oil on wood panel, 24 x 14 inches

“Song of the Goldfinch”, oil on wood panel, 24 x 14 inches

If you want to bring any of this juicy goodness home, just bunny on over to this site right here. (Yes, simply click that link like your clacking your ruby slippers together and you’ll be magically whisked over.)

More goodies to come!

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry

In the first issue The Hulk was gray. Looks weird, right?

He’s got pedigree parents — created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby — but somehow I never got that into The Incredible Hulk (and I’ve read a lot of comics, I still do!). If you have somehow escaped the comics, the TV show and the movies, it’s kind of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story:  one fine day whilst messing about with a gamma bomb he invented, physicist Bruce Banner accidentally detonates the damn thing, blasting himself with gamma rays (which you might be thinking is just made up stuff, like “Retsin” in Certs mints, but it’s high frequency electromagnetic radiation). He survives but is a changed fellow because he randomly turns into this big (really big), raging man-monster called The Hulk.  Oh yeah, and he’s green.  His transformation is ignited and fueled by anger, and the more intensely he feels rage, the stronger The Hulk gets.

I'm not sure if that iconic line from the TV show ("Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.") came from the comics originally but I'm guessing not.

And like Frankenstein he becomes a fugitive, feared, hated and hunted all over the place.  (Actually the more I think about it the more I wonder why I never got into this story, it’s kinda right up my “tortured creatures” alley.)

Anyway, been thinking about him a lot the last few days after listening to a podcast, “Stuff You Should Know”, that happened to be all about anger. (Terrific free podcast hosted by writers for the HowStuffWorks site.) Here’s some interesting tidbits:

There are three main reasons people get angry:  1) To correct someone else’s bad behavior (blech); 2) To demonstrate power (blech); 3) To address an interpersonal conflict, so you don’t stew on something forever.  This last one serves a valid purpose — you recognize that you’re angry and you do something about it. (In their example they said it was a positive response because it’s like saying “I’m willing to confront you even though it’s uncomfortable for both of us, because I value our relationship.”)  At that point it probably becomes about how you express that anger, as far as whether it will productive or not. In other words, try not to Hulk out too much.

The top three reasons women get angry were “powerlessness, injustice and the irresponsibility of others.” And apparently anger “triggers” are very different for men and women — women are more often affronted by people they’re close to, it’s much harder for a stranger to make a woman mad.  It would be tough to be She Hulk’s best friend.  (Yup, there’s a She Hulk.)

I particularly like how She Hulk "she-rrrips" her clothes.

The exact opposite is true of men, who cut their friends a huge amount of slack and go ballistic in traffic with people they’ve never met.  (You know it’s true, and they’ve got the studies to back it up!)

Besides not having been irradiated and turned into gigantic green freaks, the main reason we don’t go all “Hulk SMASH!” is because when we get mad, two areas of our brain duke it out in an epic, raging battle that usually lasts all of about two seconds.  In one corner we have The Frontal Lobe, the seat of reason (the thing that keeps you from putting your fist through people/things even though you really want to), and in the other corner we have The Amygdala, this little cluster of nuclei tucked deep in your brain that’s responsible for your emotions.  It’s kind of a rigged fight — the Frontal Lobe pretty much always wins (though we all know someone who’s wiring seems a little crossed, constantly getting in fights, kicked out of bars, etc).

The underdog - though seriously, just as well.

They actually figured this out quite a while ago, when this happy go lucky young rail worker named Phinneas Gage had the absolute bum luck to have a iron rod driven right through his skull, passing directly through his frontal lobe.  He survived, but a good chunk of his frontal lobe didn’t, and he was never the same — apparently he turned into a complete jerk for the rest of his life.

That's a diagram of how the rod passed through Phinneas' skull. Ouch.

There are other ways women and men deal with anger differently, for example men are more often physically aggressive, passively aggressive, and impulsive in their anger.  They’re more prone to have a “revenge motive” and be more coercive in their anger. Women tend to stay angry longer (I like to think of it as “anger stamina”), are more resentful, and less likely to ever express their anger — so they resort to “indirect anger” like writing someone off.  (Men rarely do the “I’m never speaking to you again” thing.)

Problem is that studies show if you suppress these powerful emotions you’re more likely to die sooner.  Which isn’t to say you should be blowing up all over the place but that we all need to find ways to channel our anger positively.  Hulk out on a small scale. Stomp on empty cardboard boxes, yell on the subway platform as the trains scream by, run and jump and kick stuff! It’s one of the reasons I’ve got this thing hanging in my studio:

Don’t forget to check out the “Stuff You Should Know” podcast — they’ve got everything from “Prisons: Not As Fun As You’d Think” to “How Roller Derby Works” and “What’s The Deal With Voodoo?”


I’ve been reading Fangoria since I was a kid, so I was thrilled to the gills to be interviewed — John Porter gets to the beating monster heart of my work, and you can read all about it right here.


Just found a fabulous blog, Frankensteinia, which tracks all things Frankenstein (you probably would have figured that out on your own but maybe you haven’t had your morning cuppa yet so I thought I’d spell it out for you).

I knew I was about to lose at least an hour when I saw this post about a fantasy craft book “Things to Make and Do with Boris Karloff.”

How I wish this was real!  But then I’d never get anything done — too busy making finger puppets.  (When I first saw it I almost immediately opened up an eBay and Alibris window to try and track it down.  Sigh.)  Micha Michelle, who dreamed this up, is some kind of mad genius.

I Fall To Pieces

Brand spankin’ new, hot off the laser cutter — a new puzzle!   Is it just me or do jigsaw puzzles really RULE?  I love ’em, I literally can’t walk by one in progress without stopping to work on it.  I think this kind of stuff really speaks to me, a mix of art and “object”  — it goes all the way back to the lunch box and TV tray paintings I used to do and this idea of taking something from childhood and appropriating it for adult use.  (Okay the puzzles are not pornographic like the lunch boxes were.  Yet. <g>) Why should art just be this static thing that lives only on your wall? I really dig the idea that people can play with their art.

So here they are in all their multi-piece glory, just in time for the holidays!  The completed puzzles are 12 x 16 inches, the color is lush and lovely, the spiral cuts are intricate and mesmerizing.  They come in a nifty round canister, each of which will be signed and numbered.  The edition for this puzzle is only 50, they are $50 each (plus shipping), and they have 50 pieces — just kidding!  They actually have 192 pieces — *that* oughta keep you busy for a while!   Please email me if you want one (that way I can make sure I don’t run out and you can pick your shipping method — isamaras@mac.com).  I’d like to put a little “Buy It Now” button on here but this close to the holidays I feel like I need to micro-manage this a bit.

Note: These are not the same as the hand-cut wooden puzzles (edition of 10) that I had in LA for the “Monster Ballads” show — these are more traditional cardboard puzzles, 1/16th inch thick, hence they are much more affordable!  It’s still a limited edition release tho’, so if you reeeeally want one, don’t wait around too long.

Did I mention I *love* jigsaw puzzles?

Magi Puzzle

magi + can