The Horned God

December 12, 2011

The Main bad Guy of the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy is the diabolical Horned God. Although his role in the story has changed much since the first draft, his appearance has always been firm in my mind: A gigantic half man/half deer monster full of lust and fury.

"Kay Faces the Horned God" by Carol Phillips

I always remember being somewhat frightened by deer as a kid. My folks used to leave me at a sitter every morning. The Sitter, in turn, would throw me into her child-proof rec room and turn on the TV (the ultimate baby-sitter). Mounted on the wall over the TV was a stag’s head, antlers and all. In my child’s mind, I remember the head talking to me, looking at me as I watched “Romper Room”.

And then, came 1977 (I think). There was this book at the Hallmark store of all places, sitting on the spinner that I wanted desperately but my folks wouldn’t buy me. I washed cars, mowed lawns, did dishes until I had enough to buy it. The book was the first edition AD&D Monster Manual. I swear I read it cover to cover a dozen times (it’s still sitting in my bookcase to this day).

The scariest monster in the book for me, was the Peryton, a harpy-like monster sporting a stag’s head with a particular taste for human flesh. An amazing thing: though it was a winged, deer-headed monster, it cast the shadow of a man. I thought that was really cool and creepy.


Another powerful image for me was a crumpled-up comic book I read at a friend’s house. It was an issue of The Defenders, an eclectic ensemble of heroes in the Marvel Universe. The bad guys in the comic were a bizarre group of thugs called The Headmen, each member having a funky, disjointed head of some sort. As I recall (or possibly not) one of the Headmen was a mad scientist who transferred his mind into that of an innocent fawn. The fawn, controlled by the baddie, had a very angry expression, one that I never forgot.

When I began the process of envisioning the Horned God, he came together in my mind in two basic forms, one a stag with a towering set of antlers and as a Pan-like hoofed man with an angry deer’s head.

I’m not sure which one give me more shivers.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

3 Responses to “The Horned God”

  1. More people in the US are killed by deer than by mountain lions, bears or crocodiles.

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