LITERARY ORPHANS ISSUE 31: Letter From the Editor
Dear Orphans & Orphanettes,
We live in a world of heroes and monsters, gods and mortals, giants and mice. Five minutes on Facebook will tell us that. What that five minutes won’t tell us is that beneath the shares, the re-shares, the hot takes, the likes, and the comments lies something magical. A well that has no name — one that we can reach into and conjure up anything our hearts desire. Much like a blank page, an undeveloped roll of film, or an empty canvas, this magic is just waiting to be formed. It’s waiting for one of us to breathe life into it and give it a purpose.
Mention the name Ray Harryhausen around a group of creatives, and you’re likely to hear one of those creatives talk about how the late special effects wizard sparked their imagination. Harryhausen was a creator known for breathing life into works of art. As a stop-motion animator, he took a vague concept of a creature, reached into that ethereal well, and transformed it into a living model, one complete with personality and character traits sometimes more human than the lead actors occupying the same movie. Whether he was creating an abomination for a by-the-numbers creature feature or bringing to life mythological monsters from ancient texts, each one of Harryhausen’s creations felt relatable on some level. These creatures felt pain. They conveyed a sense of logic and reasoning. That’s what made them unique, and that’s why Harryhausen’s name continues to inspire. His creations were more than just puppetry, they were pieces of himself that had been shared with the world, inspiring a generation of audiences to do the same.
I was a very young boy when I first saw the 1963 epic Jason and the Argonauts. It was a sunny weekend afternoon, and I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor of the living room, my face only a few inches from the television screen. From the moment the bombastic score boomed over the opening credits until that final sword fight between the title character and an army of stop-motion-animated skeletons, I couldn’t look away. There was something limitless about Jason and the Argonauts, a feeling that this world and its creator could conjure anything, go anywhere, or do whatever his heart desired. What I saw in that film was more than just an adventure. It was the ability to captivate people and share with them an uninhibited imagination that knew no bounds. To put it simply, Harryhausen’s works made the world bigger and more mystifying. They emphasized the mortals, humanized the monsters, and evened out the playing field between the giants and the mice. They gave children a belief in magic and adults a belief in hope.
In Literary Orphans Issue 31: Ray Harryhausen, we celebrate a man whose capacity for tapping into that well of imagination and conjuring up a menagerie of movie monsters was unparalleled. We celebrate the ability to seize control of the narrative and will something into existence that wasn’t there before. Each of the writers and poets in this issue of Literary Orphans has done just that — reached into that well.