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The Winslow is a fictional reptilian creature measuring 66 centimeters in length that plays a prominent role in many of comics artist Phil Foglio's various graphic novels, most notably Buck Godot and MythAdventures (with occasional guest appearances in the Girl Genius strip , , and ).
The Winslow is technically sentient and capable of speech, though rarely says anything more than the informal, colloquial greeting "Hi!", which it often enjoys repeating ad nauseam. Indeed, this diminutive creature would be completely unremarkable save for the fact that it is utterly indestructible and presumably immortal, and figures prominently one way or another into fully three-fourths of the galaxy's known religions.
Despite its religious ubiquity, the true nature and purpose of the Winslow is unknown. Some cultures fear it, some worship it, but nearly everyone wants it for their own purposes and is willing to go to any imaginable lengths to obtain it. There are endless explanations as to why the Winslow is so important, despite the fact that it displays none of the 14 Accepted Signs of Divinity (other than #14, "Be the Winslow"); yet most of these explanations are depressingly circular, e.g. "The Winslow is the exact shape and size of the Perfect Lizard of Love, which, of course, is the Winslow." Despite the fact that it is immortal and indestructible (fairly impressive in and of itself), the Winslow's importance may be due to nothing more than the fact that everyone else seems to think it's Pretty Damn Important (i.e., that it's a MacGuffin).
Buck: What do the Uligb know that the others don't?
Uligb 1: Hard to explain. If you carry something too big, you die, savvy?
Buck: Yes... so?
Uligb 1: The thread that is the Winslow has no beginning!
Uligb 2: It has no end!
Uligb 1: It is too big for any race to carry. You cannot savvy how big.
Uligb 2: Those who try are... bent...
Uligb 1: Strained...
Uligb 2: Unbalanced...
Uligb 1: They cannot see.
Consequently, anyone who ever succeeds in their quest to obtain the Winslow faces the combined zeal of tens of thousands of other cultures and species hell-bent on the same goal. Probably the most effective way to obtain the indestructible Winslow for one's own is to vaporize the current host's home planet and collect it from amongst the remaining debris (as suggested by a tabloid reporter and rejected by her editor). Because of the obvious need to keep the whereabouts of the Winslow hidden, humanity, generally indifferent to the Winslow and its supposed divinity, accepted its secret custodianship from the Prime Mover, a member of a race of omnipotent superbeings whose primary function appears to be keeping all manners of conflicting extraterrestrial cultures, biologies, and religions from annihilating one another. The Prime Movers, however, only exacerbate religious turmoil by continuing to maintain that the Winslow is the single most important being in the history of the universe, yet pointedly refusing to elaborate as to why (though they all say it's not any of the reasons the various other races have come up with so far). This is the sort of enigmatic, condescending and totally useless statement that makes a large majority of the scientists and philosophers of The Gallimaufry yearn to pound The Prime Movers' ever-so-superior heads in with a large cosmic tire iron.
And despite the appearance of being dumber than a sack of bricks, there are times where one has to wonder:
Buck: Ho. I wonder how long this association [Humans and Klegs] will last?
Unknown Voice: Quite awhile, actually. I predict that a Klegdixal/Humanity partnership will produce a unique dynamic, one that to outsiders will appear quite doomed, but it will actually supersede the relationship you have with the pogs.
Buck (to The Winslow): (beat) Was that... ...did you...
14 Accepted Signs of Divinity
The 14 Accepted Signs of Divinity, as seen in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, are partially enumerated in chapter 3 of a body of work entitled The Herodotus Complex, written by one P'Oilgof Livy. They include:
- Vanquish evil
- Provide a code of ethics
- Heal the afflicted
- Blight the crops
- Convert the heathen
- Call down the lightning
- Corrupt the innocent
- Eat the moon
- Answer the phone before it rings
- Be the Winslow
The remaining four are not given. Excerpts from The Herodotus Complex appear in all eight issues of Buck Godot: The Gallimaufry as prefaces.
The Winslow's first published appearance was in a short 3-page illustrated story included at the back of MythAdventures #5, published in 1985, but it was popularized in Buck Godot: Zap Gun For Hire: The Gallimaufry, an eight-issue miniseries published at irregular intervals by Palliard Press (issues 1-6) and Studio Foglio (issues 7 and 8) from July 1993 through March 1998. The most accurate information ever gathered regarding the Winslow was compiled in Chapter 3 of The Herodotus Complex, a sort-of quick reference for this particular futuristic world compiled by one "P'Oilgof Livy" (P. Foglio in reverse) that appears as a preface to issue #3 of this series.
A 3 page illustrated origin titled "Winslow" was published in the URcon IV program book in Sept. 1982. By the University of Rochester Science Fiction Society, Rochester NY.
This pre-dates MythAdventures #5, by 3 years.
Winslow page 1
Winslow page 2
Winslow page 3
The origin of the "real" Winslow was described by Phil Foglio in an interview published in the science-fiction magazine LOW ORBIT in 1992:
...I found Winslow when I was living in Chicago. I just went out to empty the trash one day and I found him in the dumpster. And I was just like, "My god, look at this thing!" And he became the mascot of the Moebius Theatre, which was a science-fiction comedy group I was part of back in Chicago, and well-used... he's been in numerous books and comics, and I try to put him in almost everything I do, somewhere.
The True Winslow has made infrequent appearances with Phil at assorted conventions.
- The Slag-Blah Church of the Winslow
- Studio Foglio
- Picture of the Winslow in Kaja Foglio's LiveJournal.
- Korra'ti, R., interviewing Foglio, P.: "Flying Solo: Interviewing Phil Foglio", LOW ORBIT, Summer 1992, 2(47) 7-12, ISSN 1055-288X.