Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

In a blog dedicated to the use of myth, legend, and especially monsters in fiction, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of a great. Ray Harryhausen was one of my childhood idols, and source of great inspiration.

When I was ten or so, after seeing multiple Harryhausen movies, noting his name in all of them, and looking up the technique of stop-motion animation, I started making my own poseable toys. Wire skeletons, flesh and skin of duct tape, bits of cloth and scraps from my dad’s tool bench… I shredded my mother’s old fur coat to make the hair for a rampaging troll. A sculptor from Kenner Toys (back when they still existed) was so impressed he bought one of the creatures off of me and gave me a big pile of Jurassic Park toys, to my everlasting delight.

He also gave me a letter of recommendation for any art school I cared to apply to. I tried to use it, and my creations, to get into a local creative and performing arts high school, with the goal of learning sculpture. However, the people running the auditions had no idea what to make of a balrog fashioned from duct-tape, coat hangers, the head of a plastic bull,  and sundry other spare parts. Instead I ended up in the creative writing program, which was the first step on a long path that ultimately led me to this blog.

However, I’ve maintained my deep and abiding love of all things Ray Harryhausen, and though it’s sad to see him go, he’s left behind a great legacy in both his films, and all the people they’ve inspired.


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