It’s tempting to picture a factory floor with MONSTERS hard at work at each station, manning (or monster-ing) heavy machinery, but this monster factory has one employee — me.
My cat pitches in, occasionally. His contributions are very cat-oriented. “Meow, you need a break, play with me.” “Purrrrrrr… that laptop computer is nice and warm. I shall sleep on it.” “No, you cannot use the printer right now. It is now mine.” His influence is apparent at odd moments in some of my stories, including the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired Monster-in-Progress. The movements of the mysterious black cat are drawn from his most devious moments. Most of the time he’s way too sweet and cuddly to be a menacing feline from a horror story. Of course he has his tiger side and he keeps me in line.
I’ve just completed the second draft of my Poe Monster, so I’m in research/sketching mode for my fourth in the Candy’s Monsters series. Right now I’m exploring the possibilities of an updated version of “The Strange Cast of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” The Robert Louis Stevenson original is fantastic, but it’s dated. In some ways more dated than Bram Stoker’s Dracula and even Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. All three are timeless and yet set in specific eras with specific concerns and ideals.
The idea of taking the Jekyll/Hyde good & evil paradigm and placing it at a time of mood regulating psychopharmacology and when anti-heroes, bad guys and outlaws are admired in fiction, and real life, is intriguing.
What is GOOD & EVIL in the second decade of the 21st century? Is it as clear as it appeared to be in 1886 when Stevenson wrote his fabulous exploration of the dual nature of a man? In 1886 Sigmund Freud was just beginning his private medical practice with a specialty in “nervous disorders.” The unconscious, the subconscious, the id, ego and super ego were a long way off from common understanding — let alone pop-culture usage. We live in a post-Freud world. Stevenson did not.
The other thing that jumped out when I read “The Strange Case” last week was that it was entirely male-dominated. It’s about Dr. Jekyll and his circle of close friends — all men. The few women in the story are plot devices to forward actions in the storyline, but they are not true characters. There’s the maid admiring in the moon at her window who witnesses one of Hyde’s more grotesque acts of evil. She’s the most active of the women characters and she faints! I’m contemplating a contemporary Jekyll/Hyde story and yes, the women will act like 21st century women.
This is just in the first stages of MONSTER-making, but I have a good feeling about this strange case of good & evil. Have you ever read the original? Do you immediately think of the movies? There have been quite a few, including one with Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner from 1941. I have to see it again — it’s been years — but my recollections have almost nothing to do with the book.
What do you know about Dr. Jekyll and his dark side Mr. Hyde?