As we roll into October—the month of rock and roll “monster mashes” and hyperactive children—I think it’s important to take a moment and consider the current state of monster/human interspecies relationships. I’m not the first to say it, but I consider myself in good company when I remind the general populace that our civilization is simply not taking the monster threat seriously enough. Instead of putting our medical research facilities to work on a werewolf vaccine or designing giant, remote-controlled robot monsters to defend us against possible Godzilla attacks, we line up at the box office for the latest tentacle whipping extravaganza, read boy wizard-at-school novels, or sit down for a quick game of Ick, by monster-apologist Michael Slack.
Whether he’s creating fanciful illustrations of Doctor Jekyll or designing collections of crawling creepies, Michael seems bent on making us get all warm and fuzzy for the legions of his fanged, horned, many-limbed shambling monsters. No matter how cute/gross (grute? Can that be a new word?) his creatures are, I can’t help but feel we’re treading on dangerous ground—buttering ourselves up, getting soft under the belly. Will we be prepared when the monsters shuffle their way towards our homes with evil in their eyes (or eye), or, after years of cute monster media exposure, will we extend our hands in friendship, only to have them gleefully chomped off?
Consider the nuts and bolts of Ick: You, the human player, align yourself with a collection of drooling, bug-eyed, gibbering monsters as they race to collect piles and piles of gross stuff, from severed limbs and popped eyeballs to toxic slime and moldy pillows. With plenty of backstabbing and fast-paced turnovers, and the “King Stink” trump card lurking somewhere in the draw pile, fortunes change easily and often—we thus begin to learn the antisocial monster code of “every creature for himself.” Remember it well in the days ahead—they will show you no mercy!
I should note that I was Michael’s editor on this project. And so, should we lose our edge during the coming monster war, I will be partially to blame. If our cities are overrun by all manner of ghoulish beasts and the innocent run for their lives, you may see me on a ruined street corner, pounding my fists and screaming “You maniacs! You finally did it! Damn you!”
Meet the monsters of Ick here. Michael will urge you to consider these creatures your friends. He’ll say they’re gentle as lambs and fun as a barrel of fireworks. Maybe he’s right, but I’m not so sure. Be careful, and happy almost October…