The Grim Reaper
Written by AL J. Vermette
Artwork By Sam Wallace
He is feared all over the world and comes in many, many forms to his various
victims. Some see him as human, sometimes someone they may know. Some see
him in the form of a great black crow or other such bird. Others see a tall demonic
figure cloaked in black robes welding a sharp sickle with a skull face. No matter his
form or how you leave his world he is the last thing that you will see. He is death
itself immortalized as an iconic figure of the ages. He is The Grim Reaper, the taker
of souls from this world to the next. He is good nor evil but just something that is,
always laying in wait for us all.
Along with the Witch, the Jack-O-Lantern and The Ghost no other Halloween
holiday icon has become more often then not recognizable then that of the Grim
Reaper. Almost always shown with his dark hooded cape or robe, skeleton body
and skull face holding his famous bladed sickle, the image of this creature has
become forever burned into the holiday Halloween, horror movies, fiction and myth.
For this writer the image of The Grim Reaper holds dear to my heart you could
say. As a life long fan (no pun intended here) I have always found his image
alluring. Being myself a fan of skulls and skeletons he was the supreme of all
skeletons and the coolest of the bad guys outside of Darth Vader.
Although the image of a Death as a figure head is seen throughout the world as
though death needed a face the best known image is that of The Grim Reaper.
Almost always covered in black or dark wraps but could be seen in a more burial
white shroud of garb and sometimes with dark bat or bird like wings hence he being
The Angel of Death. But most often he is depicted as a skeletal figure wielding his
farmers like sickle or scythe in which he reaps his souls. Sometimes his boney face
can be seen or other times his hood conceals his true nature. No one can place
the birth of his image to a time, date nor source, but still he has become the image
of Death that has become most well known throughout the ages. The soul taker
who transports us to the nether world.
His very look, dress and weaponry most likely was a combined melding of sources.
His skeletal features coming from his title Death of that of a man worn to the born
over time. His long black robes come from the ones worn by religious monks of the
time. His means of harvesting his souls comes from the way farmers reaped their
lands hence the use of the sickle. There was also an overlap of him and the
character Father Time who would hold in one hand a scythe and in the other an
In other lands Deaths mythology takes on other tales such as in Hindu where Death
rides a black buffalo and replaces his scythe for a rope lasso to drag his victims
away. In Japanese lore Death is female and lives in an underworld called Yomi.
The Greeks have Death as an older man with wings and also as a boy. Some tales
speak of Death as a ferryman who brings the departed to hell or Hades after taking
payment. He then escorted the soul over the river Lethe to the Land of The Dead.
This image of Death is much closer to the American Grim Reaper then other tales
of the taker of souls.
In The Bible Death is called The Fourth Horseman of Revelation from The Four
Horseman of The Apocalypse. He rides his mighty black stead from the gate ways
of the underworld followed by Hades (The Devil) in this case as they leave
destruction in their wake. In Paganism Death is said to be an old monster like
woman with a long poisonous tongue. In Christianity Death is seen as the helper of
the evil angel Samael (Satan) and was there waiting to lay claim to the soul of Jesus
as he hung upon the cross.
The icon of The Grim Reaper is not only left in mythology but has like all creatures
of legend made his way to Hollywood. Endless films, books and TV shows have
used his dark nature to spawn tales of terror and even comedy. The Immoral
classic “A Christmas Carol” has as its ghost of Christmas Future depicted as a Grim
Reaper like specter who’s face is hidden away under his hooded robe. The movie
“Meet Joe Black” shows the Reaper as a man in human form and even the funny
movie “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” shows him being somewhat human with a
face white skin and bald head. For the 1996 film “The Frighteners The Reaper is
able to fly and chase people as so it seemed but for in the end the movie showed
the dark one to be nothing more then a pissed off ghost using The Reapers image
as his means to murder.
Again a more funny showing of Death came in the 1983 film “Monty Python’s The
Meaning of Life” showed again a hooded creature hoping to take the souls of
people at a dinner party. Most recent on the TV series “Reaper” Death is played
by the likes of a 21 year old slacker who hunts down evil souls who busted free
from Hell and now he works for the Devil. Death has even made it into the comic
book world with such books as the “Lady Death,” , a series of books called “Death”
and my own 2000 graphic novel “Come The Reaper” which predates “Blood Moon
Rising” by a good six months from Sapphire Publications. The Grim Reaper has
even done TV adds for burger joint White Castle among other. Hell Death even
has his very own rock song “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by the Blue Oyster Cult. Not
too many monsters get that honor for sure.
As one of Halloweens icons, The Grim Reaper shows up on spooky music CDs and
on all kinds of Scary holiday fun. He was the poster model for the once now sadly
gone haunted attraction “Spooky World” and his face, blade and robes can be
seen in most Halloween spook houses around the world. There are Grim Reaper
toys, collectibles (Like that ones that dwell within my own great collection) models,
action figures, and animated figures that do everything from sing, dance and
scream. Each Halloween you can pick out all the Grim Reaper cool costumes both
store and homemade. I myself must say that I have played The Grim Reaper on
Halloween night giving out candy to kids who were brave enough to enter my lair
since 1987. Yeah that’s how much I dig The Reaper. Over the years this fan has
worked at creating the sickest looking depictions of The Reaper to the point that I
even found and now own a real steel bladed Sickle that I found on a trip to
Kentucky at a roadside country store years ago, Like I said.... I Dig The Reaper.