No Sympathies: Lucifer Picture

"...Satan, alarmed,
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,
Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:
His stature reached the sky, and on his crest
Sat Horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp
What seemed both spear and shield."
~ Paradise Lost

~ ~ ~

So this is a thing I guess.

After drawing Cthulhu I had a sudden urge to continue drawing a more scary breed of monster than I usually illustrate. At first I tried to draw the Slender Man, but a different idea took hold of me instead. One could say I was possessed with the desire to draw some....


Some of you might find this and the next few deviations a tad familiar if you've watched my scraps. For those who haven't, here's a bit of a summary:

I've been growing more fond of demons as monsters with the past few years. Devils are like the Bounty Hunters in Star Wars: they're really interesting villains that seen just enough times in the original text to leave a huge impression, but aren't really explored in great depth in the original text. Most of what the average person knows about demons actually comes from non-canonical texts.

Or, to extend the Star Wars metaphor: The Bible is the original trilogy (and maybe the prequels if you want to make the comparison unfavorable). Demons are the bounty hunters. And the plays, poems, folk tales, and religious texts written by religious men that AREN'T included in the Bible are the equivalent of the cartoons, comics, novels, video games, etc. that expand the universe of the Star Wars movies.

Like the bounty hunters, most of what we know about demon mythology comes from those expanded universe texts. And what wonderful texts they are!

There is a lot of interesting stuff in demon folklore. Sometimes it's weird, sometimes it's silly, sometimes it's horrifying, but it's always interesting! There are so many good stories to mine from this folklore - and if you know me, you know I love mining myths for stories.

There are a few demon myths that have particularly captivated my interests. These include:

- The organizational structure of Hell. From the circles in Dante's Inferno, to the chain of command in Paradise Lost, to the folkloric idea of there being Seven Demon Princes, one for each deadly sin.
- Demons as characters. Various folktales give demons a lot of quirky personality traits, with some devils coming off more as buffoonish clowns than BWAHAHA PURE EVIL. Milton also gave his devils a great deal of depth, and various playwrites have made quite a few interesting demons that are more three dimensional than you might think.
- Rueful or regretful devils. I REALLY like this idea. I heard about it at a Medieval Studies Congress at my college in May. In some stories - particularly ones from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance - demons aren't pure evil so much as just corrupted and fallible. The rueful devil is a pretty old archetype, and is used to either A. have a character who can help humanity redeem themselves by relating their own experiences of falling from grace or B. satirize humanity's corruption by having the poor devil be shocked at how depraved we can be. It casts devils as sort of the disgraced older sibling to humanity who begrudgingly help us better ourselves in an attempt to in turn better themselves.

Soon these ideas began to swirl in my head, and a story began to form, as stories are wont to do. And yes, I can hear you groaning already - I have too many stories to write as it is. You can rest assured that this one isn't too high on my priorities. In fact it will probably never come to anything - other than inspiring some drawings of some devils.

Here's the pitch: What if this classical, medieval concept of Hell was invaded by a more contemporary version?

I said above that what we know of demons comes from that extended universe of the Bible. But Extended Universe don't have rules set in stone, particularly when they're from a public domain work like, well, religion. Modern works tend to simplify demons a lot in terms of their personality and society. Modern demons live in a fiery place and are evil. That's kind of it. They're super evil, though. Like, unreasonably evil. They do things like impale 10000 babies make people tear off their own flesh and feed it to baby demons or some horsecrap. We've replaced the personality and moral complexity of the past with the most extreme vileness we can think of.

Modern demons are also able to look like absolutely anything, though that usually translates to "beefy guys with sharp teeth and messed up faces" or "tentacled things with sharp teeth and messed up faces." We get some freaky designs that are really awesome to look at out of this and, because we know more about biology nowadays, there's a greater potential for variety in modern demons than older ones (that isn't to say folkloric demons don't have a variety of shapes to assume).

There's nothing bad about the modern approach, necessarily. I just don't find it as interesting as the medieval take.

So in this story that's bubbling in my head, I see a classic hell populated by medieval demons getting invaded by the more eldritch and irredeemable modern set. The older demons are forced to take arms to defend their home from the invaders - an act of self preservation that eventually forces them to practice heroism. Can the classic demons overcome their own glaring personality defects to save what little freedom they have left, or will they be consumed by these fresh upstarts?

Whew, that was a long explanation of the story concept. Onto a (hopefully shorter) explanation of this particular design!

This is the first of the seven princes of Hell in my little story - Lucifer, the Prince of Pride. Lucifer was the first angel to rebel, leading all the others in his mad war against heaven. When his army was cast down, Lucifer was quick to rally the troops. At first he attempted to make Hell a new Heaven, but internal squabbling and resentment kept his army from reaching this goal. Worse, Lucifer's own pettiness drove him to aid humanity's corruption, and as a result he and the other fallen angels were cursed with monstrous forms. This broke the army, and soon all the demons split into seven factions. Crippled by their infighting, the fallen angels were left with seemingly no escape from their prison, and quickly let their goals devolve from "regain heaven" to "torment everyone around me out of spite."

Lucifer lays in the deepest section of the pit that is Hell - the city of Cocytus. All the devils are imprisoned by their own vices, and this is best illustrated by Lucifer. In his pride he continues to beat his wings in hopes of being able to fly back to heaven and continue his war. However, the dreaded winds kicked up by this action freezes the water around him. If he would admit his own fallibility for just a moment, the ice would thaw and he could be free - but that asks too much from the Prince of Pride.

Lucifer's punishment (and the idea that the punishments from Hell are actually self inflicted) comes from Dante's Inferno (technically Dante's The Divine Comedy, but most people don't know there's more than the Inferno). His design and backstory is inspired by Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, wherein Lucifer and the other devils are turned into "serpents" (which at the time was a catch all term for all reptiles and, given the other descriptive words in that passage, probably means "dragons" in context) because Lucifer possessed a serpent to tempt Eve. All of my devils have some draconic elements because of this. The fact that I love drawing dragons also helps.

Lucifer's weapon of choice in Paradise Lost is a lance, and since his name means "Light Bringer" I decided to give him a sort of twisted Knight in Shining Armor look. I also made his wings look like a dark twist on the typical angel wing. He has six, like a seraphim, and he uses the smallest and lowest pair to hide the fact that his lower body is that of a serpent instead of the legs he used to own. He covers his body in the twisted but still shining armor he used in his war against heaven. As a prideful being, he still revels in his (former) glory, even if he has to overlook the various defects he has acquired from his various sins.
No Sympathies: Lucifer
Fantasy at DragonCon 2009
Unknown Villain 23 Feb 2010