Sunday, February 22, 2009

Please welcome author... Peter Whale!

Hello, I'm your substitute blogger for the day, my name's Pete. Now with introductions out of the way, I'm here to talk to you about what? Hunters. The fantasy/horror class of character which seeks out and kills (or is killed by) supernatural creatures such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies, and so on and so on. Let's get started, shall we.

Hunters have a large range of abilities (or lack thereof) and come from many different backgrounds. From your standard religious bible thumper style, to the more hedonistic likes to sleep with vampires before killing them style (special things to both Buffy and Anita Blake for bringing us that). Some are superhuman monster killing Dhampyrs (Daywalkers, half vampires), such as Blade and Vampires Hunter D, while others trust in their wit and usually a bag of neat little tricks to get by. So how do they come in so many shapes and sizes and still maintain their appeal? Because, like Terminators, they all kick ass, and they have done so throughout history.

When asked for the origin of the vampire hunter, most will point to the classic Bram Stoker character, Van Helsing. Now, be sure you understand, that's “classic” Van Helsing, not newer studly Van Helsing (think less Hugh Jackman and more Anthony Hopkins). However, in truth the genre goes back much further than that. Historically, vampire hunters are not a work of fiction at all, but a well documented profession fairly common in the eastern European states of the middle ages. As they are well known for, these countries have a history of superstitious folk. As such, the dead coming back to life to murder the living was a serious concern for them.

Therefore, there existed a professional class of people who would travel around looking for signs of vampirism such as graves with loose dirt and bodies which lay face down (to avoid looking up at god). Some would even claim to be the offspring of vampires themselves, as Dhampyrs, in many eastern European countries, were considered to be the only ones who could detect vampires for certain (due to their own vampiric heritage). These historic hunters of the past have provided a great source of inspiration for both the mild mannered style of hunter as well as the super powered type. However, if you really want source of it, you need look back further still, into that which is much more ingrained in the human soul and rooted in our nature.

The myths of every culture hold the true source of why Hunters are so appealing. From Perseus killing of the Medusa, to Beowulf slaying the monster Grendel and his mother, mankind has always been fascinated with the triumph of man over monster. Perhaps the answer to its origin is in fact rooted in the very name itself, Hunter. As true today as in ancient times, the human race is a species which can be both pray and predator. Is it surprising than, really, that the art of the Hunt is extended to aspects beyond merely food? Even today, modern day hunters take pride in the killing of the largest Buck. Perhaps than, that is why it appeals so much. We desire to face that which is frightening and defeat it, either by brain or by prowess, and in doing so, to protect our own.

Whatever way you want to look at the Hunter, it is a powerful image that is here to stay. Stalking the night for a pray that could easily turn into predator, the Hunter will likely remain the vigilant defender of the defenseless. In the face of all the things we fear that are beyond our vision, the Hunter stands strong, inspiring us to hold strong against the night as well, and, hopefully against the real life monsters that we fear.

3 deadly screams:

Margay said...

Fascinating subject, Peter! And couldn't it be said that soldiers are our modern-day versions of hunters? Don't they also stalk prey that could very easily turn into predators?

Sarah Mäkelä said...

Great blog, Peter! I love Hunters. *squeee* It's great to have someone do such a good job on discussing this topic.

Carrie from Wisconsin said...

I agree, great blog Peter!

Hunters do come in many forms, but I think the legend gains its popularity from the fact that it has for so long been considered a rite of passage into adulthood. Now, we are so civilized that hunting for our survival isn't necessary, but we, as a people, still have a baser need to fulfill - completing the hunt, feeling that sense of triumph.

Think about it, many of us are fascinated by the markings and stories that old Egyptian tombs tell and those that can be found in Native American Indian caves chronicling what seems to be game and the distance traveled to get that game. These tell us something about ourselves that we have a hard time relating to and want to understand.

For me, when I think of the word, "hunter," a couple things come to mind. One is the long line of hunters that we stem from as human beings, another is the old TV series called, Hunter with Fred Dwyer and the last one is Elmer Fudd.