In India there is a beast called the manticore. It has a triple row of teeth, the face of a man, and grey eyes; it is blood-red in colour and has a lion’s body, a pointed tail with a sting like a scorpion, and a hissing voice. It delights in eating human flesh.
The Folio Society’s English version of the Bodleian Bestiary, p.63
A few months ago I picked up a couple of interesting things. First, from my favourite bookshop – Barter Books in Alnwick, whre I’ve picked up all sorts of treasures over the years – a copy of Folio’s Bestiary, an English Language version of the text in the Bodleian Library. It’s full of fantastic descriptions of beasts, some real, some mythological – and if anything, the former are more inventive than the latter. Take for example the mole on p.111:
They serve the desires of the flesh zealously, and succumb to the lure of pleasure, while they try in every way possible to gnaw at the root of all that is good.
Second, I bought a manticore from the Citadel Miniatures C29 ‘monsters’ range. Back in 1986 this retailed at £1.95; sadly I had to pay a little more for it in 2017, but feel like I got a bit of a bargain by biding my time on eBay. It’s one of my all-time favourite miniatures – possibly because it’s more than a little reminiscent of the Iain McCaig’s illustration from the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Deathtrap Dungeon. I wanted to do a decent job. I put some extra effort into cleaning off the flash, reinforcing the weak points, pinned the wings in place and filled in the gaps, sculpting green stuff to blend with its mane. I built a base with slate, some resin skulls and more green stuff. The rest was all about shading.
I’ve now painted more than 50% of my collection, so creeping sense of dread as I look to the summit of lead mountain has eased off. I still hope to finish at least one more miniature this weekend, maybe even two if I’m lucky. Then it’s back to work on Monday.