Monsterbox by Ludovic Gavillet, Derya Kocaurlu, Lucas Hudson, and Colin Jean-Saunier is delightful. It reminds me of being young and wanting the world to be a little more fantastic, with just a bit more magic, a few more monsters.
Maybe this is something just weird about me, but I’ve always been more attracted to monsters and villains than I have been to angels and heroes. Probably there are many like that, though. But I wanted monsters. I wanted them to be real, because once they were real they’d stop being so other to us. We could see the beauty of a minotaur or sphinx or chupacabra. And that translates to how I feel about the world now.
I don’t think the world is made of good and bad or that there’s some sort of balancing of these elements. I think that which exists is justifiable by the fact that it exists. Monsters aren’t evil, though they may be dangerous, just as a bear is dangerous.
And if we’re talking monsters, what is more monstrous than a grizzly bear? They’re enormous, they have daggers for claws and knives for teeth. They’re the size of an adult male on all fours. They run faster than you, they swim faster than you, and even if you could climb high enough for them to not reach you standing up, they’ll probably push over the tree or climb up after you.
Bears are monsters.
Never forget that.
Anyrate, Monsterbox, it feels like my childhood in all the best ways, and I really dig the way worldbuilding works there. The old man may be surprised by the monsters, but he’s not particularly afraid of them. It’s as if the child brought in a group of puppies or kitten, rather than three monsters.
And she pushes him with each new visit, the way children do. If one monster’s okay, then how about I bring two? That’s cool, too? How about three? This third one, by the way, is bigger than you.
We get the mischief of youth and the exasperation of age all at once. It feels real. It feels like when my grandfather used to yell at me and my little brother for being little monsters. He loved us, yeah, but sometimes he needed us to shut the hell up and leave him alone.
But that’s not what kids do. Kids get in there, they get dirty, they push and pull until something breaks. When it breaks, they retreat or try to bring us back to their side.
This little girl, she’s just looking for a home for her little monsters, and she digs this old guy’s groovy birdhouses.
I suppose I don’t really have a lot to say about this one. I said it all in that first sentence:
Monsterbox is delightful.
It’s a simple little story about friendship and kindness.
I know I mentioned my grandfather a few sentences ago, but I actually group up without one. My dad’s dad died when my dad was eight. My mother’s dad died when I was four. She assures me he was one of the greatest men she’d ever known, but to me he was just a handful of blurry memories of being yelled at or laughing deep from his belly.
I actually haven’t had much interaction with people that much older than me. I’ve sort of lived in this strange bubble of people between the ages of 18 and 30 for most of the last decade. One of the strangest things for me when I lived in South Korea was having friends in their forties, and especially being the youngest person everywhere I went.
Even still, when I think of the septuagenarians and beyond that I’ve known, there aren’t many. I remember homeless people I’ve spent maybe too long talking to and other random older people. The one who sticks out in my memory is someone who used to come into Blockbuster every day I worked there. He was a former Hells Angel, a former steel worker. He had a white beard down to his belt and white hair down to his shoulders.
We began talking a lot. I don’t remember why. I worked at Blockbuster and he was always there, renting the most hilarious movies I’d ever seen. I asked him about this once and he told me that he blew his knees out working at a steel mill for a couple of decades and was on pension.
So what do you do with your time?
Smoke grass and watch movies.
We laughed at that, and we spent a lot of time talking when he would come in the store. I’d just stop working and we’d hangout while he found his next movie. He’d seen just about everything in there, so he would pick up anything he could find that was new or different. He gave me a copy of Hell’s Angels by Hunter Thompson and he lent me his copy of Barfly, the film Bukowski wrote, and the one he wrote about in Hollywood [I was big into Bukowski back then, as all teenagers probably are].
He was kind, and he wished me all the luck in the world when I went away to college. I still think of him as a friend, though it’s been nearly ten years since I’ve seen him.
It’s possible he’s even dead now.
But when I think of the elderly, I always think about him. How kind and generous and thoughtful he was. How he was full of stories and wide eyed excitement. Everything blew him away. He loved the changing world, though he didn’t understand it.
And maybe that’s what the end of Monsterbox is. An old man giving into the changing of the world. He had his bird, she had her monsters, but they all deserved homes. They all deserve kindness and friendship.
So Monsterbox reminds me of two very different times in my life. Times I hold valuable, though they’re unbelievably different.
My old age.
I remember so little of the first and nothing of the second, but I remember how they feel. I remember how it feels to walk on the edge of life’s end, forty years from now, and I remember walking the shore of youth, the way it felt and sounded, though all the details are muffled, indistinct, like the bellowing from the stomach of a mountain.
Monsterbox hits both ends of life and it hits them well. It’ll put a smile on your face and you’ll want to hug your grandparents, your children and nieces.
So do that. Do it today.
It’s a fine summer day.