You know it’s a tough economy when even helpful garden gnomes are looking for work. At least they’ve got this whole traffic cone thing to fall back on, they’re practically traffic cones already! Unfortunately, it may not be a wise decision to use tiny bearded men to point out road hazards. They might distract people and cause even more accidents…

Hey, our friends the gnomes are back! It’s been so long since they last made an appearance! I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been trying to work them into a strip since the last one. Thanks to Liz, they’re finally here again! Woo!

I talked about gnomes a little bit last time, but didn’t really get too in depth about them. Gnomes were first mentioned by a rather famous Renaissance alchemist, naturalist, and philosopher named Paracelsus and described as diminutive earth spirits that lived below the ground. Paracelsus was also the first to name other elemental spirits such as the undine (water), the salamander (fire), and the sylph (air) all of which have been co-opted in some way by modern fantasy writers and video games of all sorts, though use of these names was traditionally reserved for hermetic and alchemical practices rather than folklore. Within alchemical circles, gnomes, being creatures of a subterranean nature, were associated with ores and gems, not unlike modern fantasy’s take on dwarves.

It was in the late 18th century that “house dwarfs” began their rise to popularity. Brightly painted ceramic constructions, these were the precursors to modern day garden gnomes. In the 1930’s, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs helped to inform the visual style of the massively popular Dutch book series “The Secret Book of Gnomes” by author Wil Huygen and illustrator Rien Poortvliet in the 60’s and 70’s. The duo went on to create a beautifully illustrated book titled “The Gnomes” that features incredible watercolors and a ton of fictitious information about the lifestyle of all sorts of gnomes from a variety of environments, though it is primarily concerned with Forest Gnomes. This book was used as the basis for the childrens’ show “David the Gnome” which aired in America during the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Nowadays, ceramic and plastic gnomes are still a popular icon and can still be found in gardens all around the world, though the supposed flesh and blood creatures they are based on have never been properly identified and subsequently classified by science.

Maybe they’re out there somewhere, hiding out in the forest, taking care of sick birds, helping a couple of bears with their relationship troubles. Or maybe they’ve decided to join the modern work force and give up the life of penniless hippies.

After all, Lil K has the perfect job lined up for them, a career filled with dignity and respect. Who could turn down an offer like that?