#26 – The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp

Every fucker and his dog (particularly his dog actually, given the creature’s apparent tendency to kill them all the time) has heard of Bigfoot in one form or another. Giant man-monsters from the woods are our own bestial natures given physical form – they’re a projection of the human psyche at its most primal, which is why Bigfoot has taken his giant fuzzy hand, captured the public imagination by the balls and refused to let go. We love the idea of some massive evolutionary offshoot primate rampaging around the dark and unfamiliar woods that surround us. But what if the seven-foot monster that lurks in the wild isn’t related to us at all, but has instead evolved from a totally different family tree? That would certainly seem to be the case for the monster from South Carolina’s Scape Ore Swamp, as it sure as sugared shit isn’t a typical Bigfoot:

You want to get some Sudocrem on that.

You want to get some Sudocrem on that.

I mean, just look at that magnificent bastard. The Lizard Man is almost certainly complete and utter bollocks, but that’s part of the joy of cryptozoology – pretty much every animal I’ve looked at is almost entirely hypothetical, and since I’m a comic and not a scientist, I don’t have to make sensible decisions about which ones are the best career choices to write about. I don’t make a living as a zoologist lecturing on the behavioural adaptations of migratory birds – I make one artlessly belming rude jokes into the confused faces of tipsy people. As such, I can talk about this sexy manguana as much as I like, and noone gets to call me a wank-frothed nutjob and revoke my tenure at the university. In your face, academia.

The Lizard Man is said to have first reared his scaly head on June 29th, 1988. 17-year old Christopher Davis had just finished replacing a blown tyre on his car not far outside the village of Bishopville in Lee County. As he was putting the jack back in the boot, he heard a series of thumping noises behind him. As it was 2am and Chris was a kid very much alone in the unwiped arsehole of absolute nowhere, he was brave to turn around in the first place – when he did, he saw something massive sprinting towards him on two legs in a nearby field. It was very much time to make like a banana and shit your pants in terror:

“It was about 25 yards away and I saw red eyes glowing. I ran into the car and as I locked it, the thing grabbed the door handle. I could see him from the neck down – the three big fingers, long black nails and green rough skin. It was strong and angry. I looked in my mirror and saw a blur of green running. I could see his toes and then he jumped on the roof of my car. I thought I heard a grunt and then I could see his fingers through the front windshield, where they curled around on the roof. I sped up and swerved to shake the creature off.”

Probably not the best picture if we're aiming for the "believable intellectual" look.

Probably not the best picture if we’re aiming for the “believable intellectual” look.

Chris managed to pull a Marlon King and bounce the Lizard Man off the roof of his car without injury, but his vehicle wasn’t so lucky. The roof bore a series of long scratches and the wing mirror the monster had first grabbed at was severely twisted. The teenager was apparently shaken up enough to be taken seriously, and pretty soon he wasn’t the only one reporting strange encounters around the Bishopville area. Over the summer of 1988 damage to several cars parked in the vicinity was reported, often with bite marks and long gouges in the bodywork. Two other men claimed to have been chased away from the shore of the swamp by the same seven-foot lizard, and in July a series of large three-toed prints were found in the surrounding marshland. They were considered unclassifiable as any known animal but were never sent to the FBI for analysis and were generally considered to be the work of hoaxers.

Backwater America is probably terrifying enough – we’ve all seen Deliverance – but what’s more surprising than moonshine stills and the occasional unwarranted banjo-accompanied hillbilly bumming is that the Scape Ore Lizard Man isn’t even unique. The more famous Honey Island Swamp Monster, often described as more traditionally Bigfoot-like, is sometimes said to leave the same distinct three-toed tracks as its scaly contemporary. On top of that, Thetis Lake in British Columbia also has its own komando dragon (BOOM! Lizard pun #2):

Which is apparently also a Doctor Who villain from the seventies.

Which is apparently also a Doctor Who villain from the seventies.

The initial hysteria over the Scape Ore monster lasted over the summer of 1988 but eventually fizzled out. In August Kenneth Orr, an airman stationed at the nearby Shaw Air Force base, claimed to have shot at and wounded the creature. Worrying that some boozed-up idiot had done a Dick Cheney and shot an innocent hunter in the face, the police soon figured out that he had no right to be carrying a gun in the first place and called him up on it. In spectacular backpedalling fashion he rather hastily panicked like a moron and admitted he’d made the whole thing up. These days the Scape Ore monster is used as a merchandising gimmick in the Lee County area and is confined to the still-occasional report of something big and weird chewing on cars.

CHAMANLEON. That’s it, I’m out, you’re welcome.

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One thought on “#26 – The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp

  1. Well, that first picture was terrifying, glad I don’t live in Lee County.

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