Friday, August 7, 2015

The Ballad of Smiling But Sad Monster Stan

Take a moment and look at that happy fellow up above. You'd never guess that he'd been left to rot his remaining days away on a shelf at the local thrift shop by his creator, Brent.

It's unclear what kind of kid that Brent was back in 1996 when he first gave birth to this beautiful, and beautifully sculpted, monstrosity. Maybe he was an oddball, picked on by his classmates for preferring X-Files to Monday Night Football, picking comic books over kick-ball. Or perhaps he was universally admired for his creativity; spending his days playing bass in a ska band and his nights perfecting his craft creating strange little creatures from clay. Whoever he was back in '96, it doesn't matter, because Brent grew up heartless and cold. More a monster than his forgotten "child" could ever dream to be.

[And if you're curious how I knew that Brent sculpted this nearly two decades ago, well, the bottom of this monster's feet are branded with both details. I am super-observant, yo.] 

I stumbled upon this gnarly purple oddity last night at Savers, and was unsure if I should spend the dollar ninety-nine they were asking for it. It certainly wasn't the price that had me weighing the pros and cons of owning such a majestic piece of pop-art. No, not the price at all. Two bucks was a pretty swell deal for such a unique find. I probably would have paid twice the asking price.

It was the aura of sadness that an item like this carries.

Someone took the time and patience to create it. Regardless the amateurish quality, the inconsistencies and the minor imperfections, Brent was so inspired to let this wild, bizarre thing free from his brain. Maybe it was just some assignment, a grade he had to earn in his sculpture class. I prefer to think that this was a passion project, something he considered fun and cool that he just had to make to get it out of his head. A goofy, ghoulish creature that would have stayed with him forever and ever, unless he made it a real, physical thing.

I imagine that it sat on a shelf in his bedroom all through high school. It could have traveled with him to college, where it would occasionally freak out his roommate in the early morning when he was just waking up. Or the beast may have suffered a fate worse than death. Packed away and forgotten, wasting away in a basement, until the fateful and tragic day came when Brent's dad finally hauled off the box that contained it. Left it with an old stereo and Brent's childhood bicycle at a nearby donation center.

Days would pass, uncertain and terrifying, before this purple wretch would find its way on a shelf at Savers. Where a wandering Trash Man would finally encounter it -- him -- and take him away to a safer place.

Yeah, of course I wasn't going to leave him behind. Despite my initial uncertainty, I knew that I had to give Stanley a better home than others probably would. Even though he isn't a toy, I still had flashes of some parent buying it for their whining child, because the price wasn't too shabby and it would shut them up for a minute. Stanley would be broken within a day or two, swept up and thrown away. I couldn't bear the thought of him destroyed or tossed aside. He deserved to live out the rest of his days amongst other oddities, where he would be appreciated for his uniqueness, quirkiness and kinda' shoddy quality.

Really, he's perfect for me and I hope that I can be perfect for him, too.

[Oh, and for those of you who might be wondering why I named him Stanley, I'll leave you with this random Silver Age comic book cover...]


  1. Is it weird that I kinda hope his creator stumbles across this post and sheds some light on his origin? It looks like a lot of love went into making Stanley, and it seems like a shame to toss him out.

  2. Didn't Kevin Smith revive Stanley and his monster during his Green Arrow run? *checks Google because memory is fading in old age* ah yes, he did. Cool sculpture too!

  3. This is why I adore you. I would have done the same thing and every time I go to a Value Village or other second hand store I look at certain things and wonder what its origin story is and how I can find a way to bring it to a new home. This was just a splendid post and had me grinning from ear to ear. Like Chris Mapp I kinda want Brent or someone who knows Brent to find this post. But at the same time, it can't be any other way. It was meant to be! Hope you are doing well.

  4. Stanley made me remember my Foxy Vaski I have now by my side
    I've donated, given and exchanged a lot of toys in the past, but what mess my mind about Vaski is how she went from Chelsea to La Paz in Bolivia, then bought by me, made all the way from La Paz, to Copacabana, to Puno, to Juliaca, and finally landed in Lima - PerĂº.

    Simply Awesome.

    At first I couldn't stop thinking about the person who stuffed Vaski in 2007, but after a couple of years I feel her so mine that I don't care anymore.

    1. Vaski actually originated in Chelsea, MA..?

      That's pretty awesome, because it's like a half-hour ride from where I found Stanley. I'm gonna imagine now that my pet monster traveled further than a couple towns; that maybe he crossed states or countries to wind up here with me.