The Monster Alphabet by Darren J. Gendron and O. Abnormal

Four shadowy monsters on cover of The Monster Alphabet including Scottish Cu Sith, Tanuki, Varana, and Ibong AdarnaFor much the same reasons as Krisztianna’s Creatures of Legend coloring book, I recommend Darren J. Gendron’s The Monster Alphabet to any gamer parent or anyone who would like to give a gamer mom or dad a perfect dose of 26 monsters for them to share with their own little monster. The Monster Alphabet is affordable at $12, features wonderful ominous illustrations by Obsidian Abnormal, and packs in a lot of information on every page.

Each page has one of the letters of the alphabet, a creature whose name begins with that letter, and a little rhyme that Gendron came up for the monster. Gendron also provides a pronunciation guide, the ethnic origin of the myth or legend the creature is drawn from, and Fun Facts about the creature. As an adult fan of mythology some of the Fun Facts were revelations. Did you know that the myth that Hernán Cortés was mistaken by the Aztecs for Quetzalcoatl was actually spread by Cortés himself? How is your pronunciation of Cù Sìth (coo shee)? Despite reading mentions of Ourboros motifs in ancient artwork elsewhere (and collecting a Circle Orboros army for Privateer Press’s Hordes), I was ignorant of just what an Ourboros is, a serpent eating its own tale, or as Gendron glosses, “He who eats the tail.” The Monster Alphabet also has another Ourboros in the form of the more familiar Norse World Serpent Jörmungandr for J. I was also introduced to the lightning cat Raiju, the Hindu simian Vanara, and the French Melusine which is similar to a freshwater naiad. The Aztecs supply both the Q and the X, the serpentine Quetzalcoatl and the Xiuhcoatl, with the Chinese providing the avian Zhu Que.

Creepy Japanese Tanuki from the Monster Alphabet drawn by Obsidian AbnormalObsidian Abnormal’s illustrates with menacing figures who retain a cute edge, which is why I think the book will be perfect for most gamer parents who are a bit darker or edgier themselves. The only objectionable image that would give me second thoughts about buying The Monster Alphabet for a school or classroom library is the Melusine’s topless mermaid form. Her breasts are concealed by her golden locks, but such an illustration can be quite distracting and disruptive in a classroom environment. Otherwise I doubt that most conservative parents would really object to the book in this day and age.

Menacing Obsidian Abnormal cartoon illustration of French monster Melusine resembling mermaid with fish tail

Currently The Monster Alphabet is exclusively available over at Swag Shark, but this charming book may eventually find wider distribution.

Creatures of Legend: Coloring with Arty by Krisztianna

Monster coloring book cover featuring kawaii cute creatures for kids to draw featuring the cat-headed bird itsumadeOne great find I made at this year’s Comic Con was Creatures of Legend: Coloring with Arty by Krisztianna. Its pages are populated with pairings of an adult mythical creature with a baby version all drawn in a cute/kawaii fashion with large eyes and happy expressions. The creatures range from the more typical wyverns, dragons, and gryphons to the more bizarre flyons and wolpertingers. Flyons are lions with wings and wolpertingers, which hail from Germany, are winged, antlered rabbits. Krisztianna gives a paragraph blurb on the page opposite the line art along with three details: Friendly to Humans?, Most Famous Trait, and Land It Was Most Seen.

Author and illustrator Kristztianna confirmed that photocopies for personal use are allowed, so there is no need to color in the book directly. However at only $6 a copy for 22 creature pages to color, if you find yourself needing to color in the book or your children each want a copy, Creatures of Legend is quite affordable to use directly, or even to buy one copy to keep pristine and the other to color in.

Creatures of Legend is pretty much a must-have for hardcore gamer parents who want their children to be able to distinguish between hippocamps and hippogryphs. The illustrations will appeal to My Little Pony fans as well, featuring the hippocamps, unicorns, winged unicorns, and pegasi, as well as Spike-like dragons, wyverns, and winged serpents. If I ran a more child-friendly game geared towards cuteness instead of death and destruction, I would probably photocopy its art to illustrate the friendly kraken or itsumade the PCs would encounter. At only $6 it makes for an inexpensive gift or token of appreciation, or could even be used to partially occupy younger children during LARP preparations or an RPG session, while still fostering an interest in fantasy. It would also make a great gift to give to enrich a classroom’s library with its introductions to several cultures’ mythic creatures.

Mythical ki'rin monster from Krisztianna's Creatures of Legend coloring book

A Two-Page Sample Featuring China’s Ki’Rin from Creatures of Legend

Krisztianna also has expressed interest in seeing what artists, young or old, do with Creatures of Legend and has asked that fans tag their uploaded scans of colored creatures with her name, Krisztianna, so she and her followers can enjoy the colorists’ creativity. Future coloring books in the With Arty series will likely appear on witharty.com.

Thumbnails of all 22 mythical creatures in coloring book by Krisztianna Creatures of Legend

Click to See All 22!

The 22 creatures it includes are: the giant turtle akupara, cat-like basilisks, dragons, feathered serpents, gargoyles, gryphons, hippocamps, hippographys, hydras, the Japanese lion-headed birds itsumade, ki’rin, kraken, Loch Ness monsters (done as plesiosaurs), pegasus, phoenix, sea monsters (limbless sea serpents), unicorns, winged unicorns, the uber-cute wolpertingers, and wyverns, as well as the chimaera. Rather than being a creature with the head of a goat, dragon, and lion, Krisztianna’s chimaera is a goat-headed fish.