My amazing partner Monica brought this to my attention today: The Monster Engine, a series of children’s nightmares made ferociously lifelike by talented DC comics artist Dave Devries. His skill as an illustrator makes the imagination of these kids all the more fantastical, and all the more frightening. These are just astonishing – and their naivety, their anatomical awkwardness, makes them so sinister. This is true horror:
You can see more of The Monster Engine here. I’m going to try and get the book.
These images resonate very strongly with me, because I don’t remember much of my dreams or my childhood. I remember virtually nothing before the age of ten – just scraps of memories, like the time I snapped a penknife shut on my finger, and the time I didn’t realise I was standing in an ants’ nest. I do remember some of my nightmares, though I can’t attach them to any sense of how old I was, or where. I remember watching the shadow of a man stalking up the stairs towards me, infinitely slowly – even though the door was closed and there was no way I could see the stairs. I remember a white face watching from a mezzanine. I remember lying in bed, early one morning, frozen with fear while a fog boiled from the bottom of my cupboard.
This sounds daft, but I sometimes wonder if I write precisely because I don’t recall my dreams.
If dreams are how we interpret the world and remember events, perhaps we need access to that process of recording and interpretation, just to be reassured that we have been alive despite it all. That access comes from remembering dreams, or scraps of dreams. I don’t remember mine, and so I’ve found another way to interpret my life. It probably doesn’t work so simply, but writing, for me, is the wax crayon drawing of things that might have happened. Reading is what makes them spring to life, and growl from underneath the bed.