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

At last, the cover for Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head is complete!!

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

Now, for the difficult part–lettering the cover. Creating cover lettering is harder than you might at first think. What looks good, what doesn’t, it’s all very complicated. As The Temple is part of a trilogy, we wanted to keep with the style of the two previous books in terms of font, and general positioning.

The problem with Book V, the title is much longer than the others including spaces and letter kerning it takes up a fair amount of room on the cover. The artwork by Carol Phillips is also the most manic and “In Motion” of the three and we want to be careful not to cover up too much of that beautiful art with words–we certainly can’t cover up the Horned God. Finally, you also have to avoid the gutter and tear-off areas of the perimeter as well, further reducing the usable space to put the letters.

My thought was to place the lettering below the Horned God’s hooves, thereby covering up the mosh pit of worshippers. Carol was appalled and fought to keep them uncovered, besides, the other two books had their lettering in the upper quarter of the cover and Book V needed a similar treatment.

Carol Phillips was able to block-in the lettering at the top of the cover, giving it a similar look to the first two books in the series. The coloration for the lettering should be bold, but not garish–something that pops out but doesn’t detract from the cover. I sort of like the “pop” of the red, but also like the somber black.

As usual, I like to hide my name on the front of the cover–it’s a quirk I have–I hate seeing my name on the cover.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Book V Cover Update

June 29, 2011

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

The Book V cover is coming along and artist Carol Phillips is ready to start painting which is always fun!

We had a number of challenges to address with this particular cover. First of all–how do we convey the sheer size of the place?? The Temple is a mile long and half a mile wide–that’s a rather large area to say the least. It’s also a thousand feet high and filled with over 100,000 bad guys: the Vatican has nothing on the Temple as far as size goes. To tackle this problem, Carol opted to give the place a slightly more confined, penned-in feel while giving clear indications that there is a lot more Temple than what can be seen at a glance. Also, there’s a constant thunderstorm raging inside the temple, which Carol has boiling up in the heights (I always remember my mother saying to come in from the rain where it’s safe–where no harm can come to you. I wanted it storming on the inside of the Temple as if to say: “It’s NOT safe in here!)

More Designs (Carol Phillips)

I entreated Carol to go over the top on this cover–this is the Temple after all we’ve waited two whole books to get to it and I wanted it to be unabashed in its evil.

Pillar detail (Carol Phillips)

There’s certainly nothing subtle about the Temple. I wanted skulls and leering faces and raging mouths everywhere.

As Carahil has been a usual fixture of the past books, he’s present here in this one as well: can you see him???

I’ve always had a love for the work of Keith Parkinson going way back to my unprincipled D&D days in college and I wanted the cover to be as beautifully creepy as his works used to be (Keith Parkinson’s passing was a great loss for us all)

And then there’s Kay hiding behind a pillar, a fly in this evil ointment. Sort of like when the criminologist comes on in Rocky Horror Picture Show and everybody boos, his presence indicates that the party’s over.

copyright 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

There are many Horned Gods spanning the cosmos, some benevolent, some misunderstood, and others are quite horrendous in their evil.

"The Horned God" by Fantasio

The Horned God of Tevlapradah is a self-proclaimed demon and devil; a criminal in the eyes of the Universe. The carnage he demands and receives in abundance goes against the laws of cosmic balance and the gods of the Celestial Arborium have been pursuing him for millennia, hoping to bring him to justice and end his bloody spree of terror. The stately elemental spirit Bathloxi, a being of lightning and giver of laws, has personally sought him out, though the Horned God has, to date, eluded him.

His shadow lingers over the Celestial Arborium, tormenting and laughing at them, daring them to stop him. His lore dictates he rules over a place called Tevlapradah in a Temple of bluestone sunk deep in the ground where the gods cannot see him. He commands an army of dark, four-armed angels who kill and spill blood for him; his angels’ blood lust matches his own. His Temple of the Exploding Head has witnessed ceremony and bloody sacrifice continuously for ages, the drums constantly beating. The Horned God is said to lure victims to Tevlapradah to be preyed upon by his dark angels, dragged into the Temple and then sacrificed before him. It is a game he’s played for time untold and the number of victims meeting their end in his Temple is impossible to count.

His Temple is said to be a place of such sorrow and evil that it has become a tunnel in time, its nightmare heard deep into the past and far into the future.

Recently, Bathloxi has had several promising leads regarding the whereabouts and the identity of the Horned God. At long last he has a name to consider: Carahil.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Fantasio

TOTEH: The Temple

April 2, 2011

"The Horned God" by Fantasio

THE TEMPLE OF THE EXPLODING HEAD is a place of mystery and lore on Kana. It is virtually unknown in League learned circles and is wholly disregarded by the Sisterhood of Light, who believe it to be nothing more than pagan nonsense.

The Monama peoples of the south of Kana know of the temple, have hinted at in their ancient writings and whispered of it in their most private moments. They claim it is a place of bluestone deep in the ground where the Horned God lives. They say all of the demons and haunt their nightmares come from the temple. They say it is a nexus of many places given life by the Horned God who is repaid with fire and blood. The Monamas claim his angels have been engaged in bloody worship and sacrifice in the cavernous belly of the temple continuously, without pause or breath, for thousands of years.

The Temple is a deadly place for both the victims dragged there in chains to be sacrificed, and for the worshippers as well, for death can strike anyone at any given moment.

Of all Elder folk on Kana, the men of Calvert know most of the temple, having heard of it from the Monamas, whom they often hire as seers and prostitutes. Whenever space and sea-faring mariners from Calvert come to harm the old salts by the docks shake their head and proclaim: “Another one for the Horned God.”

The great professor from the Calvert University of Dee, Grand Dame Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EvoR, conducted a seminar on the Temple of the Exploding Head before a gathering of her peers in St. Edmonds, however, she treated the temple as a purely allegorical reference using it to highlight the evils and dangers of sin and unbridled lust. At no time, did the EvoR proclaim the temple as an actual place.

The great Remnath hero, Atrajak of Want, sought out the temple at the behest of his dying wife, Tiverlan of Nebulon, who was a Monama princess. She said all the woe Kana had ever known came from the bloody environs of the temple and she begged him to locate and destroy it. Atrajak searched the whole of Remnath, finding nothing but ghosts and rumors. Eventually, Atrajak came to grips with the Sisterhood of Light at their stronghold of Twilight 4, where he was killed in a terrible battle. His search was the last real effort to locate the temple and discover what is done there.

The Temple of the Exploding Head and the Horned God remain objects of whisper and speculation.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Fantasio