Wives n’ Trolls

If you’re old enough, you might just remember when trolls were not miserable, wretched bullies on the internet.
A troll was a large, scary person with a bad temper, and an irregular lifestyle. In the Ladybird book of Three billy Goats Gruff, the troll lived actually underneath the bridge which he haunted. This led to much pondering on my part about his sleeping arrangements, furniture and general comfort.

Sometimes, as in The Hobbit, trolls can be conveniently turned to stone by daylight, but I wouldn’t rely on that.
Should you decide on some troll spotting, you will find yourself heading north, into the dramatic, misty mountains & stunning fjords of Scandinavian folklore, which is where they begin. Not far at all from frost giants, rainbow bridges and that lot we call the Vikings.
A troll is very definitely a northern European citizen. There are no olive skinned, beach loving equivalents in Mediterranean or African folklore. Which may indeed be the most fascinating fact about trolls of all, but that must be left for another tale.
I’m fond of trolls, partly because they feature in one of my favourite tales. Its a true tale, of course, with proof, though you do have to go and check out the completely verifiable facts for yourself afterwards.

troll-wife-2-by-jim-kavanaghThus I have recently pondered what a troll should look like, or rather she, as this is a lady troll – described in the tale as a “troll wife”.  Sadly, even in the mists of northern European mythology, it seems a woman’s status in life is defined by her relationship to some bloke. Same old, same old…
So here I explore two approaches to depicting these lovely specimens.
The first is the more usual style I would work with, straightforward line drawing with colour added. The average client prefers that sort of look to this second one:

troll-wife-by-jim-kavanagh
Here, I “grew” the drawing in a sketchy, exploratory way – lots of fine lines, building up a form without a clear, predetermined plan.  And the colours are more subservient to the line drawing.  After all, who knows what a troll would really look like, so perhaps its best to begin with a misty scribble, and hope those deeply buried, ancestral memories will add some ingredients.
Which do you think was more fun to do…. or perhaps I have just made that pathetically clear…

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