Carbuncle (Digital Art and Crayon) Picture

This is the original image used to create the card “Carbuncle” for my special “The Adventures of Meow” Magic the Gathering set/deck.

All of the original images have fading crayon lines and at times vague edges because it was always my intention to crop the pictures to fit them onto the card anyway, and thus the edges of the paper weren’t going to be seen in the final print of the cards.

In “The Adventures of Meow,” Carbuncle is considered a “Soul Guardian,” which is a mythological creature who works with the “Celestial Guardians” To preserve life on their respective worlds. Most have power over a specific element or virtue, and are able to pass these powers onto humans they deem worthy or necessary to preserve the balance of life in their world. Every world has its own set of Soul Guardians, and often the selection of Soul Guardians is similar from world to world. However, in the great war of good versus evil that is fought on every world throughout the universe, the Soul Guardians were one of the first and highly prioritized targets of evil, and most have been either imprisoned or killed throughout the known universe. Earth was no exception to this, which is why in “The Adventures of Meow,” modern Earth no longer has mythical creatures. In the third book of “The Adventures of Meow,” titled “Home, the Place to Be,” Meow and Two travel the Earth looking for a place to belong. In doing so, they inadvertently release and encounter many of the entrapped Soul Guardians of Earth

Carbuncle was difficult for me because of several factors. One of those is that I had written “The Adventures of Meow” in middle school and high school, when I didn’t feel I was going to attempt to make a career out of writing and didn’t think publishing was going to be an issue I needed to concern myself with – and in relation, I didn’t worry so much about copyright infringement either. I simply wrote what I thought would be “cool.” This became very complicated when I began to implement things like Amé and the Soul Guardians – things that a perceptive fan would probably realize were taken almost directly from Final Fantasy. To combat this, I later changed names, functions, appearances of some of these concepts/characters, and only used mythological creatures for Soul Guardians which didn’t exclusively appear in Final Fantasy. For a long time, I had thought that Carbuncle was a Final Fantasy exclusive creature, until I did some research. Convinced that the Final Fantasy Carbuncle was based off of lore and not an invention of Final Fantasy, I kept it.

It turns out, that the Carbuncle I knew comes from Latin American lore. It was supposed to be a green lizard-like creature, small in size with a red gem embedded in its forehead. Interestingly enough, Red cabochon cut gemstones are also sometimes referred to as Carbuncles. It was said that catching a Carbuncle resulted in luck and fortune – in a way it’s the Latin American Leprechaun. The Carbuncle is apparently the lesser known and more overlooked mythology in this region – but not forgotten.

However, most of the time when looking up the word Carbuncle, this definition is not the most commonly used. It more often refers to either the before mentioned gemstone, an eye sore of some sort, or a large abscess – which is equal to a medical eyesore.

Most people wouldn’t recall this – I only did because of research I had done on the Carbuncle just recently with the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” There is a scene where Jack Sparrow wanders into the bowels of the Black Pearl looking for rum, where he encounters Bootstrap Bill for the first time in the series who has come to warn Jack about Davy Jones. One of the most memorable lines from this conversation is when Jack says “And to what do I owe the pleasure of your Carbuncle?” Most specifically, because it seems out of place and there are no context clues to clarify what a Carbuncle is, let alone what Jack means by mentioning it.

This particular quote has confused viewers ever since the movie’s release. Most people attribute the word Carbuncle in this context as the medical term for a huge abscess (a collection of puss and dead tissue that causes the skin to swell and look utterly gross.) While this might make sense for the appearance of Davy Jones’s crew and could be perceived as a joke line, this is actually not only incorrect but it distorts the lore of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The reason for this confusing quote is the loss of context because of a scene shortly before that was removed.

I went to see the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest on the night of its release, and sadly I only saw it once, not thinking that they would remove my favorite scene in all future versions. In the original theatre version, there was a short scene just after the undead monkey rattles the crew near the beginning of the movie. The crew is still uneasy from the Monkey when a small dark green lizard with a jewel on its head briefly appears, running about on two legs seemingly uncatchable and similarly upsets the crew. Not much is said about it other than being declared that it was a Carbuncle and comments being made that Bootstrap Bill once had a Carbuncle. Jack especially seems concerned about the sighting. The scene with Bootstrap bill and the quote in question happens only moments after, giving the quote clear context as well as fitting with the lore of the series better, that mysterious treasures and mythological creatures exist, and that Davy Jones’s crew is changed by their service, not destroyed by it.

This scene was ingrained in my head because of having been familiar with the mythological Carbuncle and having been upset that it was never mentioned in pop culture until that moment. I was thrilled to see a Carbuncle portrayed on screen in its originally conceived form rather than the cutely modified Final Fantasy version, and I couldn’t wait to discuss it with someone. However, no one else I knew either went to the theatre to watch it, or knew what a Carbuncle was. Upon the DVD release of this movie, I even had a bunch of friends over to watch it, and I was eager to point out this scene which never took place. I was deeply upset over it. Worse, is that most people whom I have spoken to about the movie never remember this scene. Of course, how could they? Most everyone who saw the movie that first night probably didn’t pay the scene any mind since the Carbuncle seemed out of context (which it truly wasn’t, which is why I was so thrilled about it) simply because they were oblivious to the creature itself and its lore. They probably figured it to be some kind of made up creature or plot device whose only purpose was to foreshadow the arrival of Bootstrap Bill – and the scenes right before and after made much more sense to them and were certainly more memorable.

I don’t know why this scene was removed, why it is never spoken of or referred to since even on the internet, and never added to the deleted scenes feature of the DVDs or Blu-Rays. But I feel that without it, it leaves the audience who are curious enough to look up the definition of the word that seems so out of context in Jack’s quote to Bootstrap Bill with the wrong impression about Davy Jones’s crew as well as taking away yet another curious and mysterious legend of that world. My best guess for this might be some kind of copyright infringement, as I can’t seem to find any mention of the mythological Carbuncle anymore except in a Portuguese book of lore which contains a combination of known mythological creatures as well as ones made up for the purpose of the book. But I also find this unlikely as Final Fantasy to my knowledge not seen any repercussions. In fact, the mythological Carbuncle seems to have disappeared from the internet altogether except in Final Fantasy fan art.

Back onto the topic of my Carbuncle, I had the chore of deciding which version of Carbuncle to draw. I had first learned about Carbuncle from Final Fantasy, and that was the image I was used to dealing with in my mind. But I didn’t want to rip an image directly from Final Fantasy either. I liked the idea of drawing the Carbuncle in its intended image as more of a lizard than the cat-like Final Fantasy version. But beings how this project was meant to be nostalgic and to pay homage to the original “The Adventures of Meow” without necessarily addressing these issues, I decided to go in-between. The Carbuncle I came up with is still as cute and fuzzy as my original painting which tried to depict the Final Fantasy Carbuncle even more cat-like. However, its overall form is more lizard-like. I personally feel like this is the best depiction of Carbuncle I have seen.

I decided to pair Carbuncle’s image with the image of the Ruby Amé. This was done for four reasons. One, fewer background to draw as I was running out of time. Two, it helped to establish the size scale of both Carbuncle and the Amé. Three, Carbuncles having red gems on their forehead seems to me to establish a relationship with gems – particularly rubies. Four, I wanted the Ruby Amé image to somehow depict its relationship to the Soul Guardians. This seemed like the perfect way to cover all of these points.

The Background is much more complex than I had originally envisioned. I had originally intended for the view to be looking into the bookshelf, giving you a flat, wooden background; bland, but fast. But then I realized that I had drawn the book backwards – people typically don’t put the spines of the books against the back of the bookshelf because the spines show the title, you want that where you can read it so you can find the book among all the others. So I realized I would have to turn the point of view 180 degrees because I nether could nor wanted to change the orientation of the book. I think this worked out for the best though, because looking into the study proved to have a much more interesting background and helped to further establish the scale, which was really important to me.

One of the main reasons I didn’t want to change the book was because I had hidden a cameo on it. While it would be difficult to rationalize given what little shows of the book on the image, the author of the book in question is T.S. Eliot; which would mean nothing to the casual observer. However, fans of “The Adventures of Meow” might recognize T.S. Eliot’s most famous book, (Not the sci-fi writer, mind you, a different Eliot) “The Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” This book was the source material of the famous Broadway Musical “Cats,” which is the origin of many of the characters in the first “The Adventures of Meow” book - given that the first book was not written with copyright in mind and the goal of this project is nostalgia, not reworking the source material.

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