The 1963 version of Jason and the Argonauts has an army of skeletons attack Jason and his sturdy argonaut crew. The skeletons area a creation of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. I saw this movie as a kid and it made my jaw drop open in absolute amazement. They looked real – still better than any CGI effects you can see today. They made the movie come to life. They made the whole hero’s journey work for me even though the lead, Todd Armstrong, was far from charismatic as Jason.
And the hero’s journey is what Jason is all about. Here’s a short-hand version of his life:
Jason is related to Odysseus (the hero of the Odyssey – not a bad lineage), tossed out of his kingdom by his uncle Pelion, is raised by the centaur Chiron, gets helped by Hera (always problematic), becomes the man with one sandal (kind of like the man with no name from a spaghetti western), goes on a quest for the golden fleece (just like Percy Jackson), gathers a band of burly argonauts including Heracles, Theseus, and the poet Orpheus (why is a poet on this adventure?), gets help from Athena (I thought she only helped women?), meets Medea and falls in love with her, plows a field with two fire-breathing bulls (one of which was in heat), sows the field with the teeth of a dragon (these become the skeletons in the movie!), snatches the golden fleece (snatches is a word that needs to get used more), marries Medea, takes his kingdom back from Pelion by tricking Pelion’s daughters into cutting him up into little bits and eating him (talk about issues for therapy) – take a breath from this long run-on sentence – has children of his own then falls in love with another woman (he can’t keep his you-know-what in his loin cloth), has Medea leave him after she in a fit of anger kills off all their own children, and finally ends up alone and lonely and kills himself by dropping off the end of his old ship the Argo. Whew. The hero’s journey.
Things need to happen to your hero/heroine. Whether it’s the journey to the corner drugstore, or the journey inside her head. Hero’s get chased by skeletons, big and small, real and imaginary and like Jason, they conquer or get conquered, grow, learn, or get dashed against the harsh realities of their existence. What is your hero’s journey like?
I can tell you this… mine will have white boned creatures with round shields and scimitars in there somewhere.
It’s late Halloween night. My family is off to bed and I’m ready for sleep.
I’m posting a second time today so I can say its a Halloween post.
This is a short story I published in Dragon Magazine in 1996. The editor at the time called me and told me she picked it up off the slush pile and couldn’t put it down. “We never pull from the slush pile anymore,” she said. “But with your story we did.”
It’s one of my favorite stories and it’s a scary piece, though perhaps not in the way today’s scary works. Within it are hordes of skeletons and one in particular named Loomer Thomp. I hope you like it.
Click on the link to read… Harvesting the Boneflowers