One of my favorite books is John Gardner’s 1971 novel Grendel, a reimagining of part of the epic poem “Beowulf” told from the perspective of its antagonist, the monster of the title. From the beginning Grendel comes off as sort of a petulent teenager who—when not attacking King Hrothgar’s mead hall (where he kills and eats men, occasionally bringing one home for his mother’s meal), chatting with a dragon about existential nihilism, or kidnapping Queen Wealtheow (whom he has something of a crush on)—explores the nature of good and evil and otherwise tries to find some meaning in the world. All before, of course, having a fatal wrestling match with the hero Beowulf. By turns philosophical, morose, and funny, Grendel is not exactly the horrific creature we’ve come to know from the poem they taught us in English Literature Class (well, ok, actually he is still pretty horrific) or through all the great artwork that’s featured him over the years.

There have been a number of movies based on the story…none of which I particularly liked. But recently the Jim Henson Company announced they’re working on a live-action film adaptation starring Jeff Bridges as the monster and Dave Bautista as the hero and I have to say I’m cautiously optimistic. So since it’ll be awhile until the new movie is done and in the theaters, I thought I’d take a few minutes this morning to post some of my favorite Grendel/Beowulf art—beginning with Rockwell Kent’s depiction of the victorious warrior and his trophy above.

Above: Michael Leonard’s cover for the Ballantine paperback.

Above: Mark Penberthy’s cover for a 1988 edition from Vintage.

Above: I shared Justen Gerard‘s painting in a post back in 2015. I loved it then, I love it just as much now and have to show it again.

Above: A stunning interpretation of the penultimate battle by the inimitable Paul Bonner.

Above: A decidedly different—and beautiful—interpretation of Beowulf’s fight with Grendel by the wonderful Yoann Lossel.

Above: A moody Grendel approaching the mead hall by Johan Egerkrans. Johan wrote that he was partly inspired by Frank Frazetta’s “Night Stalker” painting for his interpretation.

Above: A haunting but sadly unfinished student film adaptation by E Lo.

Above: An excerpt from the 1981 Australian animated film designed and directed by Alexander Stitt, Grendel Grendel Grendel. Peter Ustinov provides the monster’s voice.