twisted myths

The Fisher King slaughters people to use as components in a psionic transmitter, intending to reach out to its compatriots adrift in the solar system.  It is defeated by the Doctor through the use of a stasis chamber and a time paradox.

This glorious costume prosthetic was created for the BBC by a guy called Dave Bonneywell.  I drew it at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, a museum and apocalyptic narrative which I highly recommend.  This was one of the few places I felt at home with people coming up to me to watch me draw.   There too I sketched one of many iterations of cybermen, the arch-foe of my childhood.


We had gone as a family to Wales to see the exhibition of paintings by Rose Davis called The Hunt. She joined archaeologist Dewi Bowen and film maker Melvyn Williams as they tracked ancient paths through the wilderness used by megafauna, stock and people, marked physically by megaliths and mythically through the rampages of the wild boar y Twrch Trwyth and his seven scions hunted by questing hero Culhwch, King Arthur and his knights.  Over this year I have enjoyed the abstract representations of each standing stone as Rose posted these here on WordPress.


I had heard the name “Fisher King” before but could not place it.  A bit of research revealed the name to have been borrowed from a myth set which twists through time.  In the Christianised version, the Fisher King is wounded in the lower body, perhaps crippled, perhaps emasculated, unable to rule but only to fish, but serves as the last guardian of the Grail which has healing powers.  This story harks back to earlier narratives including that of the heroic English king Bran who owns a magic cauldron which restores slain warriors to battle fitness.  In battle, he receives a mortal poisoned wound to his foot.  On his instructions, his men take only his head (which continues to talk) back to the fortress of LLyr (Llyr’s dun) where it is buried on the White Hill by the Thames.  From there he protects England until much later Arthur, in hubris, discards the head to his cost.

This story comes from Welsh oral tradition, written down around the 12th century and later translated to English as the Mabinogion.  This is the same body of myth from which comes the story of Culhwch’s labours to win the hand of Olwen, including hunt for the great boar, Twrch Trwyth.

10 responses to “twisted myths

  1. Wasn’t there a Robin Williams film the Fisher King? That is the sum total of my knowledge. The Mabinogion has been on my bookshelf for a number of years perhaps I will reach for it next, off to Cardiff myself soon. Am reading Daphne du Maurier short stories including the Birds – still terrifying!

  2. We went there on New Years Day. My granddaughter aged 10 was terrified at the weeping statues bit. Not a declared fan but I found it fascinating. Great drawings – adds to the weirdness!

  3. I missed the Fisher King episodes, but did enjoy the Robin Williams movie of the same name. Ohhh Cybermen! I was a more devoted fan in my youth. Fantastic that uou went to Rosie’s show, not to mention getting into those cakes!

    • I grew up with Dr Who of course but lost interest in my teens. However, the series across the last decade have been so good I am a fan again.
      Rosie’s show was very good. We are glad we went and I think we’ll go to more shows by people I know through the blog.

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