They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The same can be said for the boulevard to holidays. You see, we had every seasonal intent to release this new "Gargoyle" board by Todd Bratrud last Halloween, but the moving parts in our production schedule proved to not be so moveable—or at least not to the limitless bounds of our wildest unrealistic fantasies—so we, in turn, had to temper our expectations in a much more malleable manner. But that was then, this is now, and at least it's green so you can ride it with pride come St. Paddy's in a week.
Where do I go from here? Well, let's start with druids. Did you know that the pesky "snakes" St. Patrick drove out of Ireland were actually good-natured druids? See, the druids were pagans. They weren't down with the hoity-toity Christian clique and preferred to play naked Magic the Gathering instead. The funny thing about this Celtic sect, though, is that they didn't bother recording themselves, their beliefs, or their history—in other words, not so into the social media of the times. What they did was secret. In fact, so secret that all that really remains of their ancient antics is a concentric clusterfuck of big, arcane, old as shit rocks.
"In ancient times,
Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
Lived a strange race of people, the Druids
No one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock, of Stonehenge
Stonehenge! Where the demons dwell
Where the banshees live and they do live well
Stonehenge! Where a man's a man
And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan"
—an excerpt from "Stonehenge," by Spinal Tap
Talk about leaving something witchy behind, right?
Anyway, when St. Patrick returned to Ireland after being abducted by pirates at a young age—long story, probably involved a peg, none of my business, but whatever happened at sea stayed at sea and was critical to his finding God—he hit the venerated green golf courses in full on missionary position to drive out the druids. "But wait," you say, "what happened to all that legendary hoo-ha about snakes and shit?" Well, quite simply, there were no snakes. They were just a cheap allegorical substitute for the druids, because snakes hold significantly more sinister weight in the Christian mythos.
Druid fun fact: They were into human sacrifices and—according to third party documentation, obviously—would build these fantastic human effigies out of wicker. Hence the term "wicker man."
"The ferryman wants his money you ain't going to give it back
He can push his own boat as you set up off the track
Nothing you can contemplate will ever be the same
Every second is a new spark, sets the universe aflame
You watch the world exploding every single night
Dancing in the sun a newborn in the light
Brothers and their fathers joining hands and make a chain
The shadow of the Wicker Man is rising up again"
—an excerpt from "The Wicker Man," by Iron Maiden
If you don't recall this specific Iron Maiden song, fret not, because it's some bullshit that came long after the classic metal fact in 2000*. A more relevant reference would be the renowned 1973 flick, The Wicker Man, which 100-percent influenced Bruce to flex his hard rocking synapses and put pen to paper and then to vocals belted from his heavy metal mouth. Had I seen this British movie as a wee lad, I probably would have had a good nightmare or two, but it wasn't until much later in life when I finally did and by then my impressionable mind had long since been mushed like grapes at the bottom of a barrel by the seminal works of John Waters, H.G. Lewis**, and Russ Meyer.
There was, however, one movie that definitely did give me the gift of nightmares as a kid, and it is with no small amount of shame I must also admit it was a "Made for TV" one at that: Gargoyles (1972). So traumatized was I by Stan Winston's devilish rubber-suited monsters that the nightmare was one of a recurring nature and continued to spool out in my seared subconscious years afterward. Apparently I wasn't the only one with PTSD, though, because my friend and StrangeLove partner Nick Halkias had a similar childhood experience after watching the movie. So, call this new board our collective catharsis of a sort, all thanks to Todd's interpretation of the book-loving Gargoyle King***. —Sean Cliver
* If I'm not mistaken this may be the very same Maiden album tour on which Pi$$ Negrota¢o threw shoes at frontman Bruce Dickinson during a Big Brother interview.
** A director not to be confused with H.G. Wells, whose War of the Worlds did in fact kick the taint between my dreams and nightmares.
*** Rest in peace, Luke Perry.