When it comes to how we choose the films we watch, the books or comics we read, and what t-shirts we wear, there is an assumption we’ll pick what we “like” and that we’re motivated to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. The fact that millions engage in experiences known to elicit fear (such as horror movies & books) gave rise to the term “horror paradox”. However, studies such as one by Eduardo Andrade (University of California, Berkeley) and Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida) suggest that we can in fact experience both negative & positive emotions at the same time. Andrade and Cohen state that “the most pleasant moments of a particular event may also be the most fearful.”

Other social scientists such as Jeffrey Goldstein (author of “Why We Watch: The Attractions of Violent Entertainment”) suggest that individuals will engage in horror/fear for many different reasons including “enjoying the adrenaline rush, being distracted from mundane life, vicariously thumbing our noses at social norms, and enjoying a voyeuristic glimpse of the horrific from a safe distance”. In relation to media, these encounters turn on our imaginations and can provide a means to envision what we may indeed do in the frightening situations presented.

“Monsters” are not only used as a means of thinking about our own responses to menace, they can stand as symbols of human vulnerability. After Freud’s theories circulated, monsters often symbolised cathartic journeys into one’s unconscious – and that everyone contains a Mr Hyde. While some of Freud’s peers denounced this model of the psyche, the artist H. R. Giger did not (had he done so, we may never have been privy to his amazing imagination in the film Alien!). Giger tested Freud’s theories for himself and started a dream diary which he’d then analyse according to Freud’s theories.

Long before we had “psychology”, the Romans saw monsters (giants & mythical creatures) as prodigies (or omens); with the word ‘monster’ coming from the Latin ‘monstrum’, meaning a sign of future events. They’d use the word to refer to strange events such as the birth of a two-headed calf, and believed these ‘monsters’ were warnings of impending loss, distress, or disaster. I think I prefer our more modern “pop culture” monster concepts such as zombies, which not only serve as great entertainment but are great reminders of our own humanity. Zombie stories and other good monster stories such as Frankenstein, can transmit moral truths to us by showing us examples of dignity and depravity.

Whilst all of this exploration of the “fearful” may be great for switching on the imagination of a teenager or adult, it can be detrimental to children – wish someone told my babysitting older brother that (before he showed six year old me The Evil Dead!). Child psychologists have stated that during the ages of 3 to 6 a child’s ability to use their imagination is developing at an exponential rate – possessing the ability to imagine a new and scary monster daily. A recommendation to overcome fear of monsters is to teach children that monsters don’t have to be scary. They can be funny and silly, and even sad. This lesson, passed down generation to generation, help bore the “cute” monster which is enjoyed in today’s animated films and children’s books.

Now, let’s get our monster on…!

Fistful Apparel

Left to right: Monster Slaughter; Il retorno di teschio di morto; and Pheyaos Man.

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Matthew Dunn Art • Follow Matt on Twitter (@matthewdunnart)

Left to right: Oceanic Menace; The Zombie Mime!; and Zombie Munchies!

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Tilteed • Follow Tilteed on Twitter (@tilteed)

Left to right: The Great Imoto (by theJCW); Joy Ride (by Greg Abbott); and The Inner Workings of a Maniac (by Craig Watkins).

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Damien Mason • Follow Damien on Twitter (@chimpocalypse)

Left to right: A Boy and His Monster; Monster Love; and Sasquatch Knows his Manners.

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Labyrinth Clothing • Follow Labyrinth Clothing on Twitter (@labyrinth_tees)

Left to right: Furry Little Monster; Seasons; and Dinos!

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Jesse E. Larson • Follow Jesse on Twitter (@Innspectre)

Left to right: The Goggled Gentleman; Bigfoot the Subtle Cryptid; and The Jabberwocky Again.

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Cheerful Madness • Follow Cheerful Madness on Twitter (@cheerfulmadness)

Left to right: Cute Cartoon Yellow Monster; Cute Cartoon Pink Monster; and Cute Cartoon Green Monster.

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Draw Ltd • Follow Draw Limited on Twitter (@drawlimited)

Left to right: Franklin Stein (by Jarrod Gecek); Edwin Turnity (by Jordan Buckley); and Dwayne Dwagon (by Mark Rossi).

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Assault Shirts • Follow Assault Shirts on Twitter (@assault)

Left to right: Brains for Bait Zombies; Death Star; and Chainsaw Killer Bunny.

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Yema Yema • Follow YemaYema on Twitter (@YemaYema)

Left to right: Yema Yeti; Nito; and Wotto-Yema.

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Ben FellowesContact Ben on Facebook

Left to right: Sea Sickness; Yorkshire Monster; and Sick Infinity.

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Fright Rags • Follow Fright Rags on Twitter (@frightrags)

Left to right: The Legend of Boggy Creek; Zombie Vs. Shark; and Brain Damage.

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Electric Zombie (Kyle Crawford) • Follow Kyle on Twitter (@kyleisez)

Left to right: Socket; Bandaid Breath; and McNasty 2.

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Recycled Wax (Maxim Cyr) • Follow Recycled Wax on Twitter (@Recycledwax)

Left to right: In The Dark (Collaboration with Lawrence Villanueva); Scary 3D Movie; and Floating Crystal.

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Akumu Ink • Follow Akumu Ink on Twitter (@akumuink)

Left to right: Of Horror II; Tokyo Revenge; and The Gargoyle.

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GritFX T-Shirts • Follow GritFX on Twitter (@GritFX)

Left to right: Nessie Lives; Captain Howdy; and Get Kraken.

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Ditch the Kitsch (Denis Marsili) • Follow Denis on Twitter (@ditchkitsch)

Left to right: I’m Looking at YOU; Spirits…; and My Own Mythology.

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Blonde GrizzlyContact Blonde Grizzly on Facebook

Left to right: The Sharkasus (by Alex Pardee); Purple Lazyface (by Alex Pardee); and Waterman Sucks! (by Greg “Craola” Simkins).

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Tides of Virtue • Follow Tides of Virtue on Twitter (@tidesofvirtue)

Designs by Ash Jordan Design
Left to right: The Hideous Abyss; Kraken; and The Ferryman.

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T-Shirt Bordello • Follow T-Shirt Bordello on Twitter (@tshirtbordello)

Left to right: Zombie Pirate Ninja; I Believe; and Cthulhu.

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Chris BearsJoin Chris on Facebook

Left to right: Monster Tee 1; Monster Tee 2; and Monster Tee 3.

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Ross Zietz • Follow Ross on Twitter (@arzie)

Left to right: Loch Ness Imposter; Fred and the Giant Eel; and Peanut Butter & Jelly Fish.

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Chris WhalContact Chris on Facebook

Left to right: The Damned; Beware the Werebear; and Psycho.

Manz
Cat lovin' graphic designer for GritFX T-Shirts.

4 Comments

    1. thanks marta, think manz got the list down to a brilliant selection. Can’t argue with any of them!

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