Monday, March 19, 2012

Hi, My Name Is Satan 2

What does humanity think of the concept of "the devil," and how do artists and writers use Satan as a character? Last time we checked out South Park's Satan, The Master and Margarita's Woland, The Powerpuff Girls' Him, and the titular Southern tourist in "Devil Went Down to Georgia." In this entry, we meet four more Princes of Darkness.


God, the Devil, and Bob - Matthew Carlson

This tragically short-lived series of (unlucky!) thirteen episodes featured a dream voice cast: along with veterans Nancy Cartwright, Laurie Metcalf, and French Stewart, James Garner voiced God and Alan Cumming voiced the Devil. The premise is that God, discouraged with humanity, decides to give Earth one last chance. One person will be chosen to see if humankind is worth saving...and the Devil gets to choose that person. After the Devil selects Detroit autoworker Bob Alman (Really? Not a Koch brother or DRC warlord?), the battle for Bob's soul is on! Not that it's a terribly harrowing battle. Sporting bleached hair and a leather trench coat, this Devil has vague plans of taking over the world someday, but his villainy is mostly limited to keeping God waiting at a car show and popping children's balloons. The show has been taken on by Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

The Sandman: Season of Mists - Neil Gaiman

You guys, Lucifer is so done with this Hell thing. It was okay for a while, he did it, whatever, but it's been long enough. In volume four of Neil Gaiman's classic Vertigo Sandman graphic novels, a cheeky-but-jaded Lucifer Morningstar decides he's quitting. Doubting he ever had free will at all and disillusioned about the very concept of Hell, Lucifer shuts the place down. After locking the gates and sacrificing his wings, he foists Hell onto protagonist Morpheus, "dream" personified. While various deities vie for ownership of the realm and Morpheus's sister Death deals with Hell's newly released inhabitants, Lucifer decompresses by camping out on the beaches of Perth, Australia. Despite only making a few appearances in the story, Lucifer proved popular and got his own spin-off written by Mike Carey.

Lucifer is befriended by a local at the beach.
The Sandman: Seasons of Mists panel - penciller: Mike Dringenberg; inker: George Pratt; colorist: Daniel Vozzo 

The Garden of Earthly Delights - Hieronymus Bosch

OMGWTF. Hieronymus Bosch, the Dutch painter who lived from 1450-1516, is known most for his extremely detailed, bizarre paintings. The most well known of these is his triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, and the most well known panel of that triptych is the one depicting Hell. Basically anywhere you look on a Bosch is going to have some crazy stuff going on, often something scatological or otherwise ass-related, and nowhere is that more true than this piece. In all the insanity, it's easy to miss the figure in the foreground, generally thought to be the devil/Satan/Prince of Hell. This figure is a scrawny bird-creature with a cauldron for a crown, eating humans and pooping them out. Meanwhile, other crazy shit, like a woman being forced to watch herself being groped by a demon in a mirror implanted in another demon's ass, happens around him. Yes, this is a classic painting and not a porn video Santorum is promising to ban. What's interesting about this portrayal of Satan is that while many artists and writers bestow upon him some power and semblance of his former angelic beauty, Bosch condemns him to the same humiliations and tortures as his subjects. This devil has no wry, bad-boy appeal, only misery.

It's a shame Bosch never got to see Human Centipede.

"Sympathy for the Devil" - The Rolling Stones

In this 1968 Rolling Stones masterpiece, Lucifer is stylish, over-scheduled, and thinks you suck at guessing games. Rather than engaging in fiddle competitions like his "Devil Went Down to Georgia" bumpkin counterpart, this devil involves himself in major political events. Despite the pretty tame "everyone is both good and bad" message, the song fueled late 60s/early 70s "omg rock music is satanism!!!" hysteria.

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