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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gremlin


Gremlin
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This article is about the folkloric creature. For other uses of the name, see Gremlin (disambiguation).

Some of the information in this article or section may not be verified by reliable sources. It should be checked for inaccuracies and modified to cite reliable sources.
A gremlin is a folkloric creature, commonly depicted as mischievous and mechanically oriented with a specific interest in aircraft. Their origin is found in myths among airmen, claiming that the gremlins were responsible for sabotaging aircraft. In later times, different fantastical creatures have been referred to as gremlins, bearing varying degrees of resemblance to the original gremlins.
Contents[hide]
1 The airplane gremlin legend
1.1 Airplane gremlins in film
2 Different varieties of Gremlins
3 References
4 External links
//

[edit] The airplane gremlin legend
The word "gremlin" was a product of the second World War.[1] The concept of gremlins as responsible for sabotaging aircraft is first recorded among airmen of Britain's Royal Air Force during World War II, in particular the men of the high altitude Photographic Reconnaissance Units (PRU) of RAF Benson, RAF Wick and RAF St Eval. The story attempted to explain the accidents which often occurred during their flights.
The first published reference to the Gremlin is in an article by Hubert Griffith in the servicemen's fortnightly Royal Air Force Journal dated April 18, 1942[2] although that article states the stories had been in existence for several years, and there are later recollections of it having been told by Battle of Britain Spitfire pilots as early as 1940.[3] Later sources have sometimes claimed that the concept goes back to World War I, but there is no print evidence of this.[citation needed]
Author Roald Dahl is credited with getting the gremlins known outside of the air force. He would have been familiar with the myth, having carried out his military service in the 80th squadron of the Royal Air Force in the Middle East. Dahl had his own experience in an accidental crash-landing in the Libyan Desert. In January, 1942 he was transferred to Washington, DC as Assistant Air Attaché. There he eventually authored his novel The Gremlins, in which he described baby gremlins as "widgets" and females as "fifinellas". Widgets have no gender until their teens, at which point they become either male or female. Only about one in ten become Fifinellas. Dahl showed the finished manuscript to Sidney Bernstein, the head of the British Information Service. Sidney reportedly came up with the idea to send it to Walt Disney.
The manuscript arrived in Disney's hands in July, 1942 and he considered using it as material for a film. The film project never materialized but Disney managed to have the story published in the December, 1942 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. About half a year later a revised version of the story was published in a picture book published by Random House. The book was republished in 2006 by Dark Horse Comics. Thanks mainly to Disney, the story had its share of publicity which helped in introducing the concept to a wider audience. Issues #33-#41 of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories published between June, 1943 and February, 1944 contained a nine-episode series of short silent stories featuring a Gremlin Gus as their star. The first was drawn by Vivie Risto and the rest of them by Walt Kelly. This served as their introduction to the comic book audience.
While Roald Dahl was famous for making gremlins known world wide, many returning Air Servicemen swear they saw creatures tinkering with their equipment. One crewman swore he saw one before an engine malfunction that caused his B-25 Mitchell bomber to rapidly lose altitude, forcing the aircraft to return to base. Critics of this idea state that the stress of combat and the dizzying heights caused such hallucinations, often believed to be a coping mechanism of the mind to help explain the many problems aircraft faced whilst in combat.

[edit] Airplane gremlins in film

Falling Hare (1943), in which a gremlin torments Bugs Bunny
In 1943 Robert Clampett created his Bugs Bunny film, Falling Hare. With Disney's film being the inspiration, this short has been one of the early Gremlin stories shown to cinema audiences.[4] It features Bugs Bunny in conflict with a gremlin at an airfield. The Bugs Bunny cartoon was followed in 1944 by Russian Rhapsody, another short showing Russian gremlins sabotaging an aircraft piloted by Adolf Hitler.

Nightmare at 20,000 feet (1963)
A 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" directed by Richard Donner, featured a gremlin attacking a plane.[5] This episode was remade as a segment of 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie.[6] In the original television episode, the gremlin appears as an almost ape-like creature which inspects the aircraft's wing with the curiosity of an animal and then proceeds to damage the wing. In the movie segment, the gremlin more resembles a troll or a goblin, with green skin and a frightening grin. This incarnation of the gremlin appears to be more intellectual and menacing, and is also shown to be capable of flying.

[edit] Different varieties of Gremlins
As is not uncommon with folkloric creatures in fiction, the nature of Gremlins differs greatly depending to the setting. Creatures named Gremlins are encountered in various forms of video games, fantasy literature, role playing games etc. Many of these Gremlins encountered in popular culture have little in common with the original critters from the air force legend other than their name.
A famous example is the 1984 movie Gremlins and its 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch. The gremlins in these movies had nothing obvious to do with aircraft in particular, although they were portrayed as adept at subverting or sabotaging mechanical systems; more explicit connections between the films' Gremlins and those of folklore were drawn in the novellizations however.
Gremlins also appear in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game system, as diminuitive humanoid monsters with varying degrees of motivation to cause mayhem and mischief.

A gremlin as seen in the movie Gremlins.

[edit] References
^ Henry Kratz, E. A. S., Clyde T. Hankey. "'Gremlin' Again". American Speech, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Oct., 1965), pp. 224-229. [1]
^ Royal Air Force Journal, April 18, 1942. Number 13. "The Gremlin Question".
^ Do You Believe In Gremlins? Stories of 10 Squadron RAAF in Townsville
^ Merrie Melodies: Falling Hare at Internet Archive Movie Archive (The film is now in public domain)
^ "The Twilight Zone" TV series at the Internet Movie Database
^ "The Twilight Zone" movie at the Internet Movie Database

[edit] External links
A longer article examining the Gremlin's origins
The Inducks' list of Gremlin appearances in Disney comics
More Info on the Dark Horse reprint of Disney and Dahl's Gremlins book
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gremlin"

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