They reveal the mind of an alchemist, someone who uses his imagination as the main element to create dark and sinister fantasies.
–What's that noise?
–It's nothing, my child. Just the wind. The nights here are very different from the nights in the city. There you hear the cars and the trains. Here the houses are old. They grumble, they seem even to speak.
—Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Nobody loves monsters as much as Guillermo del Toro.
H. P. Lovecraft used them to enslave humankind to the power of a group of superior entities and show humans' weaknesses. Edgar Allan Poe put those monsters in their character's minds and souls, and he led us through the darkest labyrinths of madness and melancholy. Richard Matheson and Stephen King put them inside fridges, friendly dogs, cars, supermarkets, and middle-class suburbs to warn us that fear is everywhere, even in the "safety" of everyday life.
Del Toro, in turn, has romanticized them, to the point of poetry. He even has a home, Bleak House, filled to the brim with memorabilia, figurines, books, and horror movies, in a collection that would be the envy of any fan of the supernatural in movies and books. The Mexican filmmaker has devoted his entire life to the creatures that have inhabited his imagination from the time he was a child, and this passion has been behind all the movies, scripts, and novels that have mesmerized millions around the world.
Every idea, no matter how brilliant or dull it is, begins as a vision, which is then set on paper. It is a sketch from a brainstorm, and then, it becomes the germ of a project. Del Toro is a polymath who, like a modern Leonardo da Vinci, puts everything that passes through his inquisitive mind on notebooks, which are the precedent for the final product we later see in his scripts, stories, and movies.
It is in the intimate space inside Bleak House where Del Toro -born in Jalisco, Mexico, on October 9, 1964- does most of the work. Inside this Victorian horror heaven -surrounded by wax figures, ancient literature, anatomy, and biology books–, Del Toro gives free rein to his nightmares: he reads, writes, and draws in his notebooks' pages the seeds from where his next projects will emerge. His films are especially notable for the exquisite care he puts in every scene, every take, and every angle. He is also famous for creating terrifying, dark, and lovable creatures.
He does all this thanks to endless sessions of drawing, writing, and thinking. These secret notebooks reveal the mind of an alchemist, someone who uses his imagination as the main element to create high doses of dark and sinister fantasies. If the whole world ended right now and, centuries from now, a new race of beings found his drawings and books, perhaps they would be as obscure for them as incomprehensible books such as the Codex Gigas -also known as the "Devil's Bible," a mysterious book from the Middle Ages with sinister drawings, such as one where a devil appears apparently out of nowhere, and nobody knows why.
In these sketches, compiled in the book Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions, we will find visual and literary references to movies like Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth or the vampires from his novels Nocturna, Oscura and Eterna, the origin of the series The Strain. These drawings are more than just sketches or plans: each one is proof of the unquestionable talent of a man whose mind is constantly traveling to the wonderfully dangerous territories of horror and fantasy.
Many of the drawings complied in this book tell the story of projects the Mexican director could not finish but that are still waiting for the right moment to be born. A mind so inquisitive is a machine, constantly moving and creating.
There is an interesting anecdote surrounding these drawings: Mariana and Marisa -Del Toro's daughters- find them terrifying, just as Bleak House, his father's lab where he creates his monsters. So, this family man has made this notebook filled with his illustrations and notes not only as a way of giving some order to his ideas, but also as a gift for his daughters.
And that's why we say that nobody loves monsters more than Guillermo del Toro.
As a creator and horror fan, Guillermo del Toro has taught us how monsters are inseparable from fear and imagination in the mind of all human beings. That's why his drawings of fantastic creatures have caught the attention of the world just as much as his movies. He has been able to create a link between horror and tenderness that not many others have done.
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