Why frogs?

Before I get started on this topic, I feel I must apologize for the delay since my last blog entry. As has already been stated in a previous entry, I had to have a cat put to sleep recently. In addition, I’ve been having some severe financial problems. The combination of these factors made it hard for me to write anything. But it’s been over a month now, and I’m going to try getting back to creating entries for this blog.

Sometimes, it will just occur to me to commission an idea of a transformation. As I write this, I’m having the urge to have art done of a particular super-heroine done as a morph between girl and frog.

Why are frogs so popular as creatures for people to be turned into? I did some research online and discovered that frog transformation stories go back at least to Roman times. (It was the Romans, via Aesop, who also came up with the idea of the frogs who wished for a king. Look it up if you aren’t familiar with it.) I posted the basic question on my deviantART website here: https://www.deviantart.com/fmtfluver And I got this answer from chained knee: “Because they are usually considered ugly critters?  So it would be a punishment for someone who is vain or a test of someone who loved the TFed?”

That could be part of it, though it depends greatly on the frog. A bullfrog can be repulsive to human eyes, unless you’re a herpetologist. But there are many breeds of frog (over 7,000 different kinds altogether) with colors that make them quite beautiful. (Beware, though: Some of the most colorful frogs are also quite poisonous.) It is the frog cousin, the toad, which tends to be more unattractive to us.

There is a difference in size. The largest frog known is the goliath frog, the body of which by itself can be over 12.5 inches long and weigh in excess of seven pounds. That would certainly give pause to anyone who encountered it.

There is the frog diet. Going from human food to bugs (and other frogs as well) would certainly be unpleasant to any part of the brain that was still human. And having to spend your life in a pond wouldn’t be much fun. (Let’s assume that our turned-into-a-frog subject still mostly has a human mind for the rest of this little essay.) And it’s terrifying for the frog to ponder how it’s on the menu for a lot of other creatures in the wild, including people. I’ve eaten frog legs once in my life. Among other things, I had a problem with felling the frog’s knees as I nibbled on the bones.

In fact, I think one reason people like to imagine transformation into a frog is that the frog body is similar to a human’s. You still have arms and legs with joints, eyes and mouth roughly where they are on a human face. True, you get where you need to go by hopping or swimming, but movement is basically achieved without too much adjustment.

There are differences. I learned that the tongues of most (all?) frogs are attached to the front of the roof of the mouth. When the tongue is used to catch prey, it flips out backwards. And there’s a stickiness that aids in the snatching. (I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be hearing from several frog fans about what I’ve gotten wrong.)

I’ve had many frog-women done over the years, and nearly every one of them is busy with her tongue. (Many of these are from my dART gallery.)

I just learned that you still have your tonsils!

I wish I hadn’t taken THAT phone call!
Evil little rascal.
Yes, this artist probably WAS too young to draw this picture@!

These last two pictures were some of the earliest transformation art I ever commissioned. With the one just above, which I called “Begging frog,” I learned artists don’t necessarily have references for animals, nor do they have the initiative to go out and find references. Among other things, the artist who drew this only gave her half of a frog’s legs. As I’ve already said, frog legs aren’t that different from human legs. They have knees and can elongate the legs to achieve hopping. And, while I asked for the clothing to include shoes, I don’t know why the artist seemed to think the footwear should look like a cross between high-button and sensible shoes.

But I digress.

Thirty-two years ago, I got it in my head to do a modern day telling of a frog-princess story as a comic-book script. I finished the story, but it was never published. I posted it to my deviant art website here: https://www.deviantart.com/fmtfluver/art/The-Year-of-the-Frog-444925525 And I learned a lot while researching this story. For example, if a frog were kissed, its reaction would probably be to pee on whoever was kissing it. This is a frog defense mechanism, something that keeps the frog from being eaten by making itself taste bad.

I also must share this piece from another dART artist, TKDoherty. This is part of a sequence where a princess kisses a frog to find it’s really another princess. But then the former frog demonstrates why Princess 1 isn’t that bad off:

There are stories and essays about frogs somehow representing sexual organs. Why this is so, I don’t know. Frogs are asexual. The female secretes eggs, the male fertilizes them. That’s it.

Year ago, I wrote a short story in which the lustful Princess Madonna decides to find out what it feels like when other species have sex. She gained the power to change into whatever animal she mentions, and then change back by having the animal make its sound three times. (Yes, I used the same basic idea in my story “The Mouse Queen.”) But, eventually, she changes herself into a frog, but it’s a species which has no vocal chords. So she’s screwed. Or not, as the case may be.

Then, there are frogs that, when they stop being tadpoles, shed their skin and eat it. That might be a way of getting yourself fresh, clear skin after changing back.

While I’m at it, there are two young adult books I must mention. One is Confessions of a Teenage Frog. This is one of the best novels dealing with transformation I’ve ever read. It is the second in a four-book series about Samantha Slade, a girl who babysits for two children from an Addams-like family. In this book, Samantha is talked into taking a potion for greatness. But, instead, whenever she tries to be great, she turns into a frog. Yes, she goes back and forth several times from human to frog in the book. (She’s running for class president.) She has her human mind the entire time. And how she deals with the situation is fascinating.

The other is actually a series of books, The Frog Princess books by Ed Baker. These were the basis for The Princess and the Frog, though they were thoroughly Disney-ized for the movie.

I have also, several times, run across an animated version of the folk tale “The Frog Princess.” I think it was done in Europe, but I’m not sure. One scene in this does an excellent job of showing the Princess’ face going from human to frog. Maybe someday I can add the scene to the blog.

We’ve gotten a start, but there’s a lot more to discuss on THIS subject. As always, I look forward to hearing from all of you in response to this post.

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