May 4, 2022

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Reflections

         My A to Z Challenge theme this year was How to Make a Fantastical Creature, in which I explored 26 traits that are widely shared among the monsters and marvels of fantasy and folklore.  I learned about a lot of new creatures myself in the course of putting together my posts, and I hope you were entertained and learned something new, as well.  I certainly appreciate everyone who came by, left comments, shared your responses, and helped make this month feel like a community endeavor.  In this Reflection post, I’ll share some bonus material that I hope may be of interest to anyone who enjoyed my theme throughout April.
        First, I would like to present an award.  My point with all the “flashbacks” and “foreshadowings” in all the posts was to show just how many of these mythical creatures involve multiple magical traits.  Without bothering to go through and confirm, my guess is that the winner of Most A-Z Traits is the dragon.  “Dragon” can sometimes be a broad 
category, but even confining ourselves to a pretty standard western dragon, we’ve got Anthropophagus, Breathing Fire, Chimeric, Demonic (especially in medieval lore), Extremes, Flight, Glowing, Hoarding, Jewelled, Knowledge, Language, Magic, Gigantism, Sentience, Transforming, and X variables.
  That’s a pretty darn magical beast!  But there were certainly plenty of other creatures who exemplified 3 or 4, or even more traits.
        Second, this blog is usually about both fantasy and block printing, but of course this year’s theme gave the block printing short shrift.  I also didn’t feature very much of my own work.  So for anyone who’s curious about my work as an artist, here’s a guide to where you can find some of my block prints of magical creatures through the course of this year’s alphabet.

     B - dragon

     C - yali, (plus links to malacomorphs, ypotryll, umbrellaphant)

     E - (links to xana, isnashi)

     F - Pegasus, (plus link to malacorana)

     G - will o’ the wisp, (plus link to hercinia, qilin)

     J - unicorn

     K - (link to ouroboros)

     N - season fairies, (plus link to cherufe)

     P - fairy village, (plus links to pussy willows, ziz, aspidochelone)

     S - gargoyles

     Y - yale

     Z - wapaloosie, capybureau (plus links to fur-bearing trout, ypotryll, musical beasts)

        As for my author hat, I’ve written stories featuring lots of these wonderful creatures.
On the Virtues of Beasts of the Realms of Imagination has more than 45 magical beasts, and you can see most of them here, or revisit my 2019 A to Z Challenge to find out much more.
The Kate and Sam Adventures is a read-aloud or elementary-age trilogy that features sentient/talking animals, fairies, dragons, jinn, a griffin, a shape-shifting rabbit, a will o’ the wisp, a golem, plus bit parts for giant spiders, a skunk ape, a weewilmek, and a descendent of Grendel.
The Otherworld Series is a 6-book high fantasy series (high school through adult) involving dragons, wizards, sulchym, and a lylit.
• I’ve also had a couple of short stories published: one about the wild ape-leprechauns of Borneo and another featuring a slimy, tentacled Old One.  In addition, my recent spate of short stories (a number of which are currently out on submission - fingers crossed!) includes a siren, a unicorn, a ghost, a gigantic underground beast called the Horn, and some small 
feathered spirits.  I hope someday to be able to share some of these with you, as well.  In the meantime, you can always find all my art and books at my web site
        Third, I would like to direct you to some prior posts that include fun creature-themed interactive games that may amuse you:
     • Explore the wonderful world of mythical millinery with Monsters in Hats
     • Pit your wits against the odd artistic visions of medieval illuminators with Guess that Medieval Beast  (These creatures are all 100% real animals, but definitely not as you know them!)
        The moral of all this is: the magical creature fun never ends around here!  My Pro Tip for everyone is always to keep your eyes (and heart) open for magic and wonder - broadly defined and encompassing our own real world as well as the worlds of the imagination.  Feel free to visit my Instagram for a dose of Daily Delight, in the form of one picture a day of something that brings me joy.  (Mostly it’s nature, but some other Interesting Stuff, as well.)
        I will end with the words of G.K. Chesterton: "Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

[Pictures: Portrait of the Artist, rubber block print by AEGN, 2019;
Dragon, wood block print by Jost Amman from Thierbuch, 1592 (Image from Library of Congress);
Assorted books by AEGN, featuring magical creatures;
Dracula in a Mae West hat, photoshop adaptation from movie posters, by AEGN, 2011;
The Dragon of Wantley, engraving by John June from the comic opera of the same name by Henry Carey, 1770 (Image from Google Books).]


Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Thanks for a wonderful journey through monasterland in words iand pictures. I'm sorry not to have been commenting much, but I have read and enjoyed every one of your posts.

Kristin said...

Congrats to the dragon for coming out ahead in the multiple categories area! That's a nice print of you sketching the magical creatures. I enjoyed your A to Z again this year!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Congrats on finishing the challenge! I absolutely loved your theme.

Ronel visiting for A-Z Challenge Reflections 2022

Timothy S. Brannan said...

This was a fun theme. I didn't always comment, but I really enjoyed all your posts.

Congratulations on completing this year!
Tim Brannan
The Other Side | A to Z of Conspiracy Theories

Deborah Weber said...

I quite enjoyed your series Anne, although I did miss seeing more of your own art. I absolutely agree though the magical monster fun never ends, nor does the opportunity to see all manner of wonders in our world. I'm so glad you're such a delightful guide to so many of the the cool things!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks to all of you for supporting me and I'm glad you enjoyed the theme.

Alana said...

Congratulations on completing the Challenge. I am amazed at how many people put so much passion and love into their blog posts. Perhaps my only experience with dragons was reading some of Anne McCaffery's Pern novels. I wonder how I would have fared if I had been born on Pern!

Unknown said...

The work that you put in created a well presented blog each day - the art work made an awesome statement.

Joy Weese Moll said...

Congratulations on completing the challenge. I really enjoyed how much I learned about magical creatures from all kinds of traditions around the world.

Red said...

Sounds like an intriguing theme! I am one of the A to Z bloggers who started strong, but tapered off on the "visiting other blogs" part. Sorry to have missed you! I'm running down the Reflections post list to find some of the ones I missed in April.
Congrats on winning!