Monsters in Charleston – and that includes James Island!

by Sandra Stringer

Monsters in Charleston recently arrived in my mailbox, and I sat myself down with a mug of hot tea and read it from cover to cover. If I was a child, would it have scared me? It gave me a bit of a shiver as an adult, but I’m a renowned scaredy-cat, and I have a fantastically over-active imagination.

I originally read about this book in the City Paper, and then went to the site of Timothy Banks, the artist, where I was told to:

“Be afraid, be very afraid…to not own a copy of the most frightening event in Charleston since Hurricane Matthew. For the first time in a single edition, 12 of the Lowcountry’s most reviled creatures can be found squished together in ghoulishly vivid color. Tour the old town through monstrous new eyes as these (sometime slimy) visitors stomp, slide and rip their way through famous sites such as: The Battery, Folly Beach and A Swamp!”

It’s a children’s book, but for me it’s a collection of great art, and so I’m sharing it with you here. But (spoiler alert) I warn you James Island parents who have arachnophobic children, the James Island page features a spider that will make you look at our traffic problems in a whole new way and may give your children some concerns about the spider population around here. Just sayin’.

Anyway, I emailed Mr. Banks some questions, and he answered. After I finished squealing with delight (I still do that on occasion. Don’t judge.), I read his responses, and here they are!

SS: What was the inspiration for the book?

TB: I created the cover for the “Monsters” issue for Paste Magazine’s October edition and that picture really inspired me to create a monster or two in a Lowcountry setting–which grew to several monsters and then finally a book.

SS: What did your kids think of it?

TB: They loved it.  My oldest (5 yrs) loves creating characters, so she actually started creating her own monsters with their own stories.  My other two are in pre-school and the book’s been a big hit there, which is funny b/c I didn’t intend for the book to necessarily be for children–so it’s cool to see it transcend for so many age groups.

SS: What sort of materials do you use for your paintings?

TB: This book was completely digital.  Although, keeping with the “Monster” theme, I am currently working on an acrylic/watercolor series of lowcountry themed monstrous fauna, and I’ll be sure to post pics of those as they’re finished on my site, timothybanks.com.

SS: Do you have another book project in the works? If so, can you tell me about it?

TB: On the drawing board right now is a book idea that my wife and I are developing about Pirate dogs that come to attack Charleston but keep getting foiled by cats in the Holy City.  Specifically it’s for children, but again I’m hoping it will be a book that’s appropriate for all ages.

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So, there you have it. If you are interested in getting your own copy, you can get it here. And step lightly – there be monsters afoot!

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