6 illustrations of monsters can teach us a valuable lesson about empathy.

There are two sides to every story. Yep, even in monster movies.

Have you ever stopped to wonder "Why?" Why does the Kraken destroy sea-faring ships? Why does Godzilla lay waste to city after city?

Why doesn't Medusa just get a haircut already?


Artist Teo Zirinis has wondered.

In a hilarious and poignant set of illustrations he calls "Monster Issues," he sets out to give us the answers and show us what it's like to put ourselves in someone else's shoes — no matter how slimy or smelly they might be.

"It all started with Cthulhu," he told me.

Cthulhu, the monstrous creation of H.P. Lovecraft, is said to be part octopus, part man, and part dragon.

"It's a name that's pretty hard to spell. I pictured him trying to write it down and failing miserably every time and thought it would be a fun idea to illustrate."

All images from Teo Zirinis/Hands Off My Dinosaur, used with permission

(No wonder Cthulhu is so grumpy; only a few paragraphs into writing this piece, my spellcheck burst into flames.)

More monsters soon followed.

Like Bigfoot, the hairy, lumbering oaf who just wants someone to believe in him:


Then there's the classic zombie.

Poor guy. We're all so worried about him ripping the flesh from our bodies that we never stop to think that being a zombie must kind of suck.

And Godzilla!

Turns out he's really just an architecture snob. "This skyscraper is so derivative," I imagine him saying as he topples one to the ground.


Finally, there's Nessie, aka the Loch Ness Monster.

She might be the most famous monster on the planet, yet there's not a single good photo of her to be found. How do you think that makes her feel?

"It turns out their lives are harder than they seem," Teo says.

Guess I'd never thought of it that way, but you know what? He's right.

And maybe that's what Teo is really getting at in these illustrations. Yeah, his subjects are monsters, but they could just as easily be the guy who just cut you off in traffic or an anonymous stranger on the sidewalk.

Everyone has a story. If we look closely enough, they might just surprise us.

Teo plans to continue the series — after all, there are so many more monsters to cover, including some of Teo's favorites like the Wolf Man and Frankenstein. (Spoiler alert: Wolf Man must be itchy like all the time.)

Keep up the great work, Teo, and thanks for showing us that things we don't understand aren't always as scary as we imagine.

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