Monica Gallagher is an Austin-based cartoonist:
“I do a lot of romance comics, slice of life comics, whole gamut. And recently I got into cryptids.”
Gallagher blames her listening habits for her recent interest.
“I listen to a lot of really nerdy podcasts about ghosts and cryptids, so I think that was kind of a gateway drug,” she says. “And Bigfoot, I’ve always loved Bigfoot. And then I didn’t realize that there were so many regional cryptids everywhere.”
She began to uncover them – starting with Texas.
“I love the idea that we had a lot of Bigfoot sightings, especially in Piney Woods in East Texas,” Gallagher says. “And then Chupacabra is the most famous for Texas. But then there’s a bunch of, like, werewolves, like the Beast of Bear Creek and the Ozark Howler kind of crosses over. So does the Wampus Cat, which is a big mascot for a lot of high schools in the South. So yeah, they just ranged from really cute, fun ones to really terrifying ones like the Skinwalker and really tragic stories like the Donkey Lady of San Antonio. So there’s a whole bunch.”
Besides Bigfoot, she says her favorite might be the Lake Worth Monster.
“Because he kind of looks like a sheep,” Gallagher says. “He’s kind of like a goat man. He looks like a sheep. And he’s real fuzzy. And his first encounter, when people saw him, he threw tires at them – just like, not having it. He didn’t want people to, like, find him. So I was sold.”
Soon, she took her cryptid art on the road.
“I was doing them for every state I was visiting,” Gallagher says. “And then I started putting polls on my Instagram for which I should do next. And people argue about it and it’s amazing. Or they tell me when I’m wrong. They tell me when they’re like, ‘Well, actually that cryptid is from Georgia. It’s not from Tennessee,’ which always makes me laugh, but they’re very possessive of their cryptids.”
She says while it’s a lot of fun, she also tries to be cognizant of the complicated history behind some of the stories – which may be racist or appropriate stories from Indigenous cultures.
Gallagher’s next endeavor is a comic about Bigfoot – called “The Biggest Bigfoot.”
“Because it’s Texas, so he has to be the biggest one,” she says. “And it’s kind of a road trip story about him going and meeting all the other Texas cryptids.”
As for her own belief in Bigfoot? She’s open to different explanations.
“Bigfoot sightings are in every state except for Hawaii, so I believe we all have a regional species,” she says. “Unless, if you want to get really nerdy about it, some people think they’re mystical when they disappear, and that’s why we can’t find them and kind of walk in between worlds.”
But she also thinks we may have to let them find us.
“There’s so many, like, TV shows where people are searching desperately for Bigfoot, and never find him. So I think they’re a little too eager. Like, he plays hard to get,” Gallagher says.