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Merchandising the Monster

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 21st, 2006

Maine Mystery Beast

Artist: Roland LaVallee, Crow Track Gallery, Eastport, Maine. Used with permission.

Lewiston reporter and Cryptomundo associate these days, Mark Laflamme takes some moments on Monday, August 21, 2006, to look at “Merchandising the beast?” in the Sun Journal.

Maine Mystery Beast

Please click on image for full-size version

Photograph by Michelle O’Donnell. Used by permission.

Laflamme speaking to a local central Maine readership, first and foremost, observes:

Admit it. All week, you’ve been calling friends around the country to brag about the mystery creature stalking the Maine woods. You love that dead, unidentified beast and you want a way to celebrate it. Put away those thoughts of getting a tattoo, friend. There’s an easier way.

A graphic artist in Ventura, Calif., has designed a logo in honor of the “Maine Mutant” after following the story from across the country. Now, you can proudly display your adoration for the infamous critter. You can get his drooling, tongue hanging, eye-popping image on a coffee mug or on a T-shirt in a variety of colors.

Maine Mystery Beast

The “Maine Mutant” by Mike Lemos first popped up at Cryptomundo.

Artist Mike Lemos said he was inspired to come up with a depiction of the creature after learning about it through a cryptozoology Web site. Order one now for friends and family and get your Christmas shopping done early. Few things will delight that special someone in your life like the face of a snarling beast.

- Mark Laflamme

Last we heard from Lemos, out of some 250 hits to his website, only seven people had bought tee-shirts. Despite the sun, with the Red Sox on the ropes, it is getting colder in Maine. Maybe people want the long-sleeved variety?

The merchandising seems far from over. Under Laflamme’s notes, there’s a small piece by reporter Eileen Adams on a new poem about the “Devil Dog.” Called “Turner Nights,” it’s author has big plans.

[Larry] Bisbee, operator and promoter of Countryfolk Music Theatre in East Dixfield, has even greater plans for his 13-stanza poem. He hopes to set it to music to the tune of, or close to, “The Werewolves of London.”

Part of the poem by Larry Bisbee goes like this:

“With claws like ‘Horns of the Devil’
eyes with a burning glow
when you’re traveling down to Turner boys,
you’d better not go slow…
Yes, kids are locking doors
Curling up with fright
‘Cause vicious eyes are glowing
During Turner nights…
‘Cause there’s a momma and a poppa
maybe even more
Still crossin’ there at twilight
Right there on Ol’ Route 4….

Others have tried to capture these precious Maine Mutant moments and make a little from the visual Mystery Beast memories.

Take the guy selling the carving on eBay. Or sadly ponder Ms. Michelle O’Donnell, who might feel like she thought too late to charge for her images after they were on over 500 Associated Press online sites and published in newspapers around the world. However, if O’Donnell had withheld the pictures at the beginning, there never would have been this Maine Mutant event, in the first place. Without the photos up front the little story from Turner, which would have hardly moved across state borders, wouldn’t have become the monster it did.

After the fact, I totally understand people want to capture these precious Maine Mutant moments rushing by, but timing is everything. The newspaper sold a few papers, a dozen tee-shirts might sell, some Monster burgers were purchased.

There is, however, the Catch-22 of Mystery Beast photos. In cryptozoology in general, one actually ends up running the risk of killing a story, making it go cold, if one thinks the media can be manipulated and will be more interested by withholding something. The press may just move on to the next three-day wonder and your motives will be called into question. In the end, for example in this case, O’Donnell did the right thing, in her openness regarding the photos and her recent reconsideration of her temporary weekend feelings of withdrawal.

All folks have to do is compare how “anticipated photos” were handled in Malaysia to see what sometimes happens when “merchandising” is put in front of “sharing” the monster* first.

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[*Hint: I am not using the word "monster" here in exchange for "cryptid."]

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


4 Responses to “Merchandising the Monster”

  1. Pvolitans responds:

    Sensationalism, hype, capitalism. Somehow I’m not quite in favour with how the furor has made a mountain out of a molehill. The dead canid was an unusual find, and it was a good exercise of fieldwork and matter-of-fact reporting by Loren and the team to ascertain the creature’s identity.

    There is nothing otherworldly about dewclaws. Bluish lip/tongue colouration is common in many known breeds. A goat/dog hybrid is ludicrous. Bulging eyes in dogs are not uncommon. A short muzzle is not uncommon (ever seen a Pekingese?). Pupil dilation in death (and thus giving its eyes that bizarre appearance) is not uncommon.

    And could we really accuse it of causing the death/injury of our family pets without any supporting evidence? Sounds like a witch-hunt to me.

    Pvolitans – amused by the irrationality of it all.

  2. dewhurst responds:

    Let the poor mutt rest in piece. I’m still sure that the dog is Shar Pei cross and about as mysterious as apple pie.

  3. Ranatemporaria responds:

    Its a great point and goes someway to answer the question of why the media seem to run and run with some stories and ignore others. If there are numerous free images, with no copyright then thats a sure fire page filler, even if the pictures are of nothing much really. Unfortunately those incidents with few or no protected pics may be overlooked.

  4. twblack responds:

    Yeah let him rest. He deserves to be left alone.



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