Oh My God, Dream-Eating Tapirs!

So apparently I lived to nearly thirty-four years of age without ever learning that the Japanese have a mythological creature called the baku that is a tapir that eats dreams.

I cannot believe no one ever mentioned this to me. On the other hand, since everybody is pointing out that they’re in the one Neil Gaiman book, which I just remember being about a fox and a Buddhist monk, apparently it was my own fault that I missed it.

Now that I am aware of its existence, I am obviously deeply and profoundly in love.

His hand is glowing, because that's just how he rolls.

Also, it finally explains that Pokemon Drowzee, which I always kind wondered about.

Baku are actually a bit more chimeric than a straightforward tapir, having the body of a tiger and the head of a tapir, except that tapirs are obscure and elephants are obvious, so now they’re often tiger-elephants, and also they have the tail of an ox with the big floof at the end required by all Asian mythological creatures* and possibly also the eyes of a rhinoceros, although nobody seems to be tracking that last one too closely.

So this is 8 x 8—fooling around with technique, he’s a fairly loose digital sketch, printed, sealed, coated with clear gesso, and worked over with colored pencils, acrylic ink, and some white acrylic. The clear gesso gives it a serious grainy texture, which lets the colored pencils act almost like pastel over the dark background, and gives is a little more texture, while the colors are bright and saturated enough that I’m surprised by how slick the thumbnails look.

And I gotta say, he was just unbearably fun to do. I mean, sure, tiger-pawed tapir that eats dreams! Of course that was fun! But the size and the composition was a lot of fun, too—I love doing the close-ups like that, and I hardly ever do them because there is still that tiny voice in my brain going “If you don’t have a full background and body shot and everything, people will think you can’t draw!” and while I have killed any number of those little voices—there is an entire wing in the basement of my brain where the bodies are piling up—this one’s a wiggler.

ANYWAY. Prints! I guess an original for sale, too, although much like the Squash Kachina, there cannot be that many fangirls on this topic (although I dunno, Neil Gaiman never wrote a book about the Squash Kachina, and oh god, if only.)

But yes. Prints. Yes.

*I occasionally wonder, given the floof, if there was some kind of extinct breed of peacock-ox bred specifically for the size and quality of their tails. This would obviously be a non-pooping breed of ox, possibly explaining why it is now extinct.

  • reply Slarpy ,

    Speaking of pokémon, castform and shuppet are based off the teru teru bozu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teru_teru_bozu), a sort of magic paper doll that can change the weather.

    Dunsparce is a tsuchinoko, a snake wider than it is long, that can talk and likes getting drunk. I swear I did not make that up.

    Maneki Nekos are those white ceramic cats with one raised paw and a coin, and are also what meowth was inspired by.

    Arcanine is supposed to be one of those ugly lion-dog things, which is why it’s type is “Legendary” in the Pokédex.

    Oddly enough, Infernape is based off Son Goku/Sun Wukong, from Journey to the West, AKA the Monkey King, AKA Goku from Dragonball. Your mexican wrestler firepig also evolves into Zhu Bajie, a pig-demon character also from Journey to the West.

    And as you probably already have guessed, munna is *also* a baku, although a pinker and cuter one than drowzee.

    • reply Vez ,

      • reply Eric Shupps ,

        Excellent post. Very helpful. Thanks for the info.

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