675- Common Ground Goblin

Common Ground Goblin

Common Ground Goblin (Diabolus vulgaris)
Colored pencil and acryla gouache on Bristol board
Collection of the artist

One of the challenges of the Spiderwick Field Guide was to take these kind of tropey, trite creatures from fairytales that we’ve seen depicted hundreds of times, fairies, goblins, dragons, and trolls, and come up with a unique and fresh new way to depict them that might engage or excite young readers. And I thought if I could crack the goblin then everything else would be easy for me because it was such a common creature that we see so much through stories and video games and movies, et cetera. So growing up in Florida, south Florida, we have these toads down there.

They call them bufo toads. I doubt that’s their actual name, but that’s what everyone, all the locals call them. And these toads are huge. They’re actually really poisonous too. Dogs can’t eat them. It’ll actually kill a dog if you eat them. And all this stuff was in the back of my mind when I was designing the goblins for Spiderwick. All this kind of fascinating information about a real, live animal, which really that philosophy starts to affect every single creature that I designed for the Spiderwick Chronicles. But it started with this goblin, and the idea of this large, toad-ee creature with kind of bird claws I thought was spooky and creepy. But the fact that it knew not only what a scarf was, but how to put a scarf on and tie it around your neck I felt also showed intelligence and a sense of fashion.