You know, as a person who's been obsessed with anthropology for a very long time, I have read a LOT of myths and creation stories and studied a LOT of different religions. But let me tell you... when it comes to whacked-out, bizarro, effed-up belief systems, NOBODY beats the Aztecs. Mesoamerican cosmology in general is pretty much one big giant peyote trip (like seriously - these people were ingesting all sorts of mind-altering substances), but the Aztecs brought a level of insanity and bloodlust to the equation that is just top notch. If you ever wanna have some fun, go read about the creation of the fifth sun, or the birth of Huitzilopochtli, or the annual festival of Xipe Totec. That shit'll blow your mind.

Anyway, out of all the crazy gods in the Aztec pantheon, Tezcatlipoca is my favorite. He's a fascinating, mercurial figure, as likely to harm as to help - he can tempt humans into self-destruction, but he can also cleanse them of contamination, absolve them of guilt, and help them overcome fate. What makes him decide whether he's going to save your ass or throw you to the dogs? Who the fuck knows. His name is usually translated as "Smoking Mirror", and he's considered to be the embodiment of change through conflict. He is associated with a variety of different concepts, including the night sky, nighttime winds, obsidian, enmity, discord, sorcery, temptation, mystery, and beauty, and he is the traditional rival (and occasional ally) of the cultural hero of the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl. Tezcatlipoca is basically the original Chaotic Neutral character - as evidenced by his awesome epithet, Necocyaotl - "The Enemy of Both Sides".

I decided to draw a modernized version of Tezcatlipoca, complete with a lit-up (kinda apocalyptic?) view of Mexico City, in place of the ancient capitol of Tenochtitlán. Tezcatlipoca is traditionally depicted with a black and yellow stripe across his cheeks and chin, and black paint over the rest of his body. I stayed true to his design in that respect, but updated his other features to look more modern. He's usually drawn with a smoking obsidian mirror in place of his right foot, but that gives off too much of a peg-leg vibe, so I gave him some obsidian-plated boots instead (we can just assume he's wearing a prosthetic under his boot). I also made the smoke plumes come from his entire body because, um, it looks freaking cool. Tezcatlipoca's animal counterpart is the Jaguar (Tez is a huge fan of shapeshifting, and the Jaguar is his go-to form), so I added some spots on the jacket. I made him super-sexy-fly because 1) I am the artist and thus have the power to draw hot guys, and 2) Tezcatlipoca was apparently such a fine piece of ass that he was able to seduce a number of different goddesses, so yeah. He's a babe. It's canon.

Tezcatlipoca © The Aztecs, who actually called themselves the Mexica, but whatever
Pic © Me
Continue Reading: