Monster: The Wendigo
Appearance: "Light of the Wicked" Xombi Hanukkah Special #1. 1996. Unpublished.
"Be Prepared" The X-Files #25 and #26, January & February 1997.
Guy Davis: Artist, Noelle Giddings: Painted Color, Agnes Pinaha: Letterer, Dwayne McDuffie & Jacqueline Ching: Editors
Gordon Purcell: Penciller, Josef Rubinstein: Inker, John Workman: Letterer, Lisa Slykerman: Color Design, Digital Chameleos: Color Rendering, Jim Salicrup & Dwight Jon Zimmerman: Editors, Miran Kim: Cover Artist
The wendigo, windigo, witigo, or other various spellings, was something of a giant cannibal spirit in the folklore of the Algonquin tribes along the northeastern United States and Canada. There are various descriptions and forms it can take, but it's often said to appear as a skeletal, emaciated person with gray skin and deep set eyes, somewhat like a resurrected corpse, whose appetite could never be sated, and whose diet was human beings. The wendigo could also be transformed from a human being who had eaten human flesh, making the creature a cautionary tale against cannibalism. I could spend a lot of time describing all of the varying attributes, but the real purpose here is to discuss how the wendigo became part of my own stories.
The wendigo has long been one of my favorite monsters of folklore. I don't remember when I first encountered it, but I've been fascinated with it ever since.
In the Xombi Hanukkah Special, the characters David Kim and Rabbi Sinnowitz are trapped in a car after crashing off the road during a blizzard (if David Kim looks a bit fat compared to what you are used to it's because the nanites in his body did that to him to insulate him against the cold) on their way to Midnight, Massachusetts.
Guy Davis decided to depict the wendigos as something like a monstrous cross between a bear and a human. As you can see, they are intelligent, capable of speech, wear moccasins and belt pouches which they've crafted themselves. We even see them providing medicinal plants and speaking Ojibway. Like the monsters in Midnight, Mass., I wanted the wendigos to be depicted as a people with their own culture and not simply mindless monsters. Of course, for all of their ability to reason and discuss, they are predators and people are their food of choice, which makes David Kim and rabbi Sinnowitz menu items and not friends, so the sense of the wendigoes being a constant threat is there from even before their first appearance and you never forget for a moment that they are indeed monsters.
The X-Files also featured a wendigo. Because of the structural needs of telling an X-Files story there was a supernatural possibility for what was going on as well as a rational real world explanation. The story here centers on a Boy Scout troop winter camping. One of the scout masters is attacked by some kind of creature and may be preying on the boys in his troop as well as park rangers and so on.
The wendigo which appears in this story (perhaps as an illusion, perhaps real) was given a more animal like appearance. It was humanoid with animal-like features including an elongated snout, claws and fur as well as a wild mane of hair. This would have been the kind of wendigo that is a spirit creature that is capable of transforming a human being into a cannibal.