Today is the 20th anniversary of the Gargoyles television premiere.
It might sound stupid, but Gargoyles has a ton
of importance to me still. When it first came out my parents were a little iffy on us watching it - after all, the gargoyles themselves looked purposefully “demonic”. But the first episode we happened to catch was the episode where Broadway accidentally shoots Elisa. We were stunned. For starters, what a fantastic episode. Secondly, holy shit did they just have an episode about gun safety and a main character got shot
? There was blood, I saw blood!
Right away I was hooked. Obsessed, even. I couldn’t stop thinking about this show. Every time it came on I was glued to the television set. I had entire episodes memorized in no time, and I remembered details about it far better than I remembered those pesky “school” details.
Gargoyles is when I really started to focus on art. Yes I’d been drawing since I could hold a crayon semi-correclty, but Gargoyles REALLY sparked something in me. I couldn’t stop. Suddenly I needed
to learn, I needed
to improve, I needed
my skills to be enough that I could draw and design my own characters for Gargoyles, so I could feel closer to the show that meant so much to a lonely kid. I was obsessed with drawing, I was unstoppable.
I remember worrying that, for some reason, drawing gargoyles was probably bad. I kept it hidden for the longest time. In retrospect I’m not even sure why
. My parents let us watch the show, they even liked it (when Elisa and Goliath kissed, my mom shouted “FINALLY!”), so the logic in my young head didn’t really track. But for months (maybe even years) my closet was stacked high full of my secret gargoyles drawings. I didn’t mind the secret. If anything it made me feel even closer to the show, like my obsession was something special. Again, kid brain and kid logic.
As lonely and maybe sad as it sounds (sometime in this story we moved halfway across the country, so my crippling shyness wasn’t the only thing preventing me from having friends), it’s amazing
what Gargoyles did for me. Where my art had started out just a means to an end to be closer to the show, it became something much more important. Suddenly I was wanting how-to books and really actually
improving and learning.
Then, the internet. Oh my
, the internet. Once my dad figured out that I was getting more serious about my art, he wanted to scan the pictures in and show them off online. We had a cute little family website that was perfect for this. I watched while he showed off my Gargoyles fanart and I wondered what else the internet had to offer for this.
Oh my goodness
, what it had to offer! I was floored. The fanart, the fanfiction (an entirely unexplored thing I’d never even considered - I had all these characters I’d made up, you mean I could write and post stories about them?! Granted I was 12 or so at the time, in retrospect the answer to “I can post my fanfic?” should have been “oh god no please don’t
”)… the fans, meanwhile, were friendly and welcoming people. I was… well, very 12 years old… and made some idiotic comments here and there. Rather than chasing me out, I got PM’d and had things gently explained. Once I figured out kind of how to navigate the fandom, I felt comfortable and welcomed pretty damn quickly.
I’m still friends with many of those people to this day, including some of the more amazing artists and writers that I assumed would always be out of my league. And, well, they kind of still are - but I’m no longer a starry-eyed 12-year-old too afraid to talk with the cool kids. In any case, I found myself carefully studying others’ fanart, learning from them, getting ideas, tentatively showing off my own work (which was well received… I was 13 when I started posting more art and people were impressed at what I could do “for my age”… like the art wasn’t great but since I was 13, that shit was fantas
I don’t quite remember what
I felt when the show ended (which was after season two, we don’t talk about The Goliath Chronicles… even as a kid I knew that show was bullshit)… I was probably upset. For all I know I’ve repressed those memories and I actually spent a week in bed inconsolable and sobbing and holding my action figures close.
But what I DO remember is that the fandom carried the show on. That sense of belonging that a lonely kid found in Gargoyles was continued for real
through the fandom, through these people I’ve kept in touch with and grown with for the last seventeen years of my life.
When Gargoyles came out, it showed me so much
. It gave me a rich and dark and beautiful story, complex characters (hero and villain alike), and a lifelong love of urban fantasy (I maintain it’s no coincidence so many Gargoyles fans love Dresden Files)…. It sparked a passion for art and character design and writing that I’ve kept up with ever since. It gave me a sense of belonging that I craved, even before it introduced me to the fandom and the friends in it that I’ve loved for almost two decades now.
I can say without any hesitation that I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Gargoyles. Yes, I know, it’s just a show. But what that show has created, inspired, and brought together is something that has shaped me as a person in huge ways. I can never, ever express my love for this show enough. And yes, I’ve rewatched it as an adult - it holds up.