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A gremlin is a fictional mischievous creature. Gremlins are depicted as highly mechanically oriented and extremely devious.

The concept of the Gremlins as responsible for sabotaging aircraft is said to have originated in a tale told among men of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom serving in the Middle East during World War II. The story attempted to explain the accidents which often occurred during their flights.

The Gremlin in Popular Culture

The lore of the gremlin was reportedly told to Roald Dahl by colleagues of his in the 80th squadron of the Royal Air Force during his own service in the Middle East. Dahl had his own experience in an accidental crash-landing in the Libyan Desert. He was believed to have recovered and briefly resumed serving in Greece and Syria but his frequent headaches soon caused him to be relieved of active duty. In January, 1942 he was transferred to Washington, DC as Assistant Air Attache. There he eventually authored his novel "The Gremlins". He showed the finished manuscript to Sidney Bernstein, the head of the British Information Service. Sidney reportedly came up with the idea to send it to Walt Disney.

The manuscript arrived in Disney's hands in July, 1942 and he considered using it as material for a film. The film project never materialised but Disney managed to have the story published in the December, 1942 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. About half a year later a revised version of the story was published in a picture book published by Random House. Thanks mainly to Disney, the story had its share of publishity which helped in introducing the concept to a wider audience. Issues #33-#41 of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories published between June, 1943 and February, 1944 contained a nine-episode series of short silent stories featuring a Gremlin Gus as their star. The first was drawn by Vivie Risto and the rest of them by Walt Kelly. This served as their introduction to the comic book audience.

It was at this point Robert Clampett created his 1943 Bugs Bunny film, "Falling Hare". With Disney's film never materialising this short had the significance of being the first to introduce the concept of the Gremlin to cinema audiences.

Bugs is featured as relaxing at an air field, reading the book "Victory Through Hare Power," while no one else seems to be there. Bugs is amused when his book mentions a creature of World War II folklore, the Gremlin as responsible for "diabolical sabotage" in aircrafts, spreading havoc. But then Bugs hears noises indicating activitie at a near-by bomber plane. When he investigates, he discovers a Gremlin working at sabotaging the airplane. Before he knows it Bugs ends up piloting the plane while the Gremlin continues his work at destroying it.

In 1984 a movie called Gremlins directed by Joe Dante was produced, followed by the sequel Gremlins 2 - The New Batch in 1990.

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