Festivals

Comicpalooza Day 3: Werewolves, Roller Derby, and the Fear of a Christian Texas

Read our coverage of Day 2 here.

Read our coverage of Day 1 here.

For the final day at Comicpalooza we vowed we would attend some sort of panel no matter what it was. We wanted education, illumination and to engage in true geekdom. Luckily for us, just as we made our way up the escalator at the George R. Brown Convention Center a symposium dedicated to setting straight mythological creatures was beginning.

The talk was hosted by Tak and Bekah Brown as well as their friend Fox Whitworth, and Art Attack was joined by half a dozen people in street clothes as well as a herd of fairies with stunningly elaborate wings. Perhaps enthused by the fae fans among us, the panel began by delving into some basics about the world of brownies, pixies, and banshees.

The most interesting thing we learned from this is the way tales that we would classify as ghost stories in America often became fairy stories in England, Scotland, and Ireland. The chosen example was the Cauld Lad of Hilton, a boy who was murdered in Hilton Castle by a local baron and returned as a type of house sprite.

What we really got into, though, was the group's discussion on werewolves. We were relieved to see that Whitworth was apparently intimately familiar with Sabine Baring-Gould's definitive history of the subject published at the end of the 19th century. During the question-and-answer period we broached the subject of the changing nature of becoming werewolf in Western folklore. Previous to the last century, becoming a werewolf involved a pact with the devil, as well as a special ointment or belt. It's only later that the idea of a bite passing lycanthropy along comes into play. Whitworth chalked it up to the rise in gothic literature.

"You have all these romantic, gothic writers like Byron and Shelley envisioning these tragic monsters," said Whitworth. "They understand what the noises in the night were, so they no longer needed to fear them. They used them to make money instead. I've never understood the psychological need to indentify with the monsters, myself. Take vampires. The modern vampire story could just as easily be a man taking a woman to a bar, slipping her a roofie, stealing her wallet, and buying himself a sandwich."

The group also cheerfully informed the audience that exorcism is on the rise in America, and that the Catholic Church is still seeking to have a trained exorcist in every parish.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner