Paging Dr. Swineheart

I’ve been reading some of the earlier volumes in Bill Willingham’s Fables series, and the characters include both ones I’m quite familiar with and ones I hadn’t heard of before. One of the latter is the surgeon Dr. Swineheart, who actually comes from a tale in the Brothers Grimm collection called “The Three Army Surgeons.” This is a short but gruesome story that has three surgeons remove their own body parts to show off to an innkeeper, their plan being to reattach them in the morning with a magic salve. The cat eats the removed body parts during the night, however, and the innkeeper’s servant and her boyfriend have to find replacements. The only problem is that these replacements, when attached, cause strange behavior. The one who cut off his hand receives the hand of an executed thief and becomes a kleptomaniac. One who removed his heart receives that of a pig (obviously he’s the one in Fables), and proceeds to root around in the mud. The third doctor took out his eyes and gets those of the cat that took the original organs, and hence he isn’t able to see properly in the daylight. The three are able to get some money from innkeeper so they no longer have to practice their trade, but they presumably have to keep the strange body parts. This page says that the tale would make a good David Cronenberg film.

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