Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One of the great things about Hellboy stories is the use of mythology, history and folklore. Many of the stories were inspired by Mike Mignola's research in these areas and the stories are attempts to retell those tales with Hellboy involved somehow. The giddy, the grand and the grotesque are all brought together in a wonderful concoction of humor and horror.

On our trip to Hawai'i in January, we visited many historical sites and had a taste of the mythology, history and folklore of the residents of the Big Island. One prominent and relatively ancient feature of the island is the presence of petroglyphs. These ancient carvings were the artistic expression of the Big Island's residents. Also, in the Pu'u Loa petroglyph field on the slopes of the Kilauea volcano, parents would carve holes and put in the umbilical cords of their newborns to assure a long life for their children. We thought this was very fascinating and very odd.

One place we didn't get to, though I really wanted to, was the Mo'okini Heiau. Heiaus were the temples of worship for the pre-European settlers of Hawai'i. Part of the religion brought by the Tahitians was human sacrifice. Mo'okini Heiau was the sight of thousands of human sacrifices and the area is (apparently) very spooky and off-putting even in the daylight hours. Our guidebook says the county doesn't maintain the road well (i.e. not even four wheel drives are recommended; you'd have to hike a mile and a half to get to the spot) and almost no historical markers or explanatory signs have been put up. The area isn't just lifeless; it's soulless. I really didn't want to expose Jacob to this though I did want to see just how creepy it was for myself. Definitely good for a Hellboy location.

Another cool spot is the Place of Refuge or Pu'uhonua o Honaunau. Located in South Kona, this area featured a royal house and a sacred area where anyone could flee for sanctuary. Refuge seekers included non-combatants during battles on the island and those who violated the kapu, forbidden acts that invoked the death penalty. The kahuna pule or priest could absolve someone from the violation and he or she would be free to return home without fear of death.

I was so inspired, I bought a book on Hawaiian Mythology. I'm looking for story ideas in there as well. Mythology and folklore are so interesting; finding new ways to express them or to make them live on or just to retell them would be a fun and worthwhile pursuit.

My vague story idea is that Hellboy, the world's greatest paranormal investigator, unravels an ancient case: Some trickster promised a group of villagers to deliver the umbilical cords of the town's latest arrivals to the petroglyph field (for money of course). Instead of taking the long trip to the volcano field, he sells the cords to a witch who uses them for a potion/spell that is supposed to grant success to one of the Ali'i (chiefs) who is about to go into battle with another Ali'i. The spell requires cords from nobility (there's a whole caste system on the island I didn't describe), so the spell doesn't work and the chief and what's left of his army are sacrificed at the Mo'okini Heiau. The chief or one of his lieutenants makes it to refuge and then goes to kill the witch in vengeance. I'm not sure if the witch doesn't get why the spell didn't work or if she does figure it out and explains it to the warrior. I haven't worked out the details yet. I feel like the good ending is Hellboy finding the trickster's soul trapped in the place of refuge (who hasn't been absolved because the priest is so disgusted with him), he has a big fight and manages to get the soul just outside the limits of protection, where the souls of the villagers, the children, the witch, the chief and his warriors all pounce on the trickster.

Please don't steal my story idea or you may invoke the kapu!

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