In post no. 34, “Wot the Hell,” ‘way back on October 8, 2018, I showed a page I called “Random Portraits of Imaginary Demons from Mythical Hell Realms.” This is actually an early finished page from my work in progress, Pause & Reflect Comics.
Here it is again:
It was easy to come up with 15 demons. Add some horns and pointy ears and most humans are easily demonized. The ease of it suggests something about human nature, doesn’t it? “Don’t underestimate the power of the Dark Side,” as the saying goes. I deliberately kept away from the really creepy stuff, rejecting a number of scarier images, but it was a relatively easy and fun task.
It only seemed fair to do a page of Devas as well. In Buddhist mythology, Devas are inhabitants of the Heaven realms. They seem to be a lot like angels from Christian religion, but Devas are reborn humans who’ve lucked out and hit the jackpot. They enjoy extremely long lives of wholesome pleasure in paradise. The Devas liked to hear the Buddha talk up the dharma. Here’s an image I found on the web, supposedly a Thai painting of Devas hanging out in a cloudy heaven realm:
The pointy hats are cute if a little uncomfortable-looking, but are those pink tentacles poking out behind those golden clothes?
Anyway, I naturally had to do my own cartoon take on Devas, using my own picture vocabulary. But I found it to be a considerably more difficult business. My toons don’t seem to bend that way. Silly, goofy, grotesque even, but looking through piles of sketchbooks and doodles, there wasn’t a lot that came up. It’s not like I haven’t had some experience of the Deva-ness of my fellow humans. Many years ago, I was on a Washington, D.C. Metro train that went over the Potomac as the sun was setting. The passengers were all struck by the golden light and I was suddenly seized with a sense of non ordinary perception. Everyone for a moment seemed the embodiment of perfection. It was just one of those fleeting moments of grace, whatever that is, that comes and goes.
But how do you put that in a cartoon? I’ve been struggling with this for many months and this is what I finally came up with:
Yeah, I know. Some of these guys could probably double as demons, right? Some are more like rejects from a Saturday morning cartoon show. And then there are the critters –a blue bird, a flying dog, a one-eyed turtle-thing, a gorilla-thing, and a duck-billed whatsis. And who’s the weirdo with the impossible orange hair and the red shorts? Well, for now, I’m sticking with it. I do reserve the right to make changes. I’ve got so much work to do on this screwy comic that who knows if I’ll ever revise this?
I hasten to add that I’ve always been skeptical about supernatural beings, extraterrestrials (even though Edzl, a Nebboid from the Vague Nebula is one of my main comic characters), and other celestial or hellish realms. You certainly don’t have to buy in to any of this stuff to benefit from the Buddha’s teachings. The best I can do is admit that this cosmos is mysterious and I sure don’t know what all it includes.
And if I needed any extra convincing of how weird this existence is, physicist Paul Davies is the perfect fellow to provide it. His book, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is This Universe Just Right for Life? is a marvelous, nontechnical description of all the bizarre theories astronomers and physicists have devised and also a cogent explanation of the knowns that form the basis of the young science of cosmology –no longer the exclusive territory of theologians and philosophers. Originally published in 2008, it is still pertinent today. Davies discusses ancient philosophers, quantum multiverses, string theory multiverses, and even “Matrix”-type virtual reality scenarios until I was dizzy with wonder and awe. By the time I’d finished the book, the possibility of heaven and hell realms seemed tame compared to some of the quirks real scientists are considering. Another good review of Davies book is by Columbia Mathematician Peter Woit.
I’m also reading a great follow up book: We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe, by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson (2017). Daniel Whiteson is a professor of experimental particle physics at the University of California, Irvine and gets to play with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Jorge Cham has a PhD in robotics, but is best-know for his…webcomic! His comic is called “Piled Higher and Deeper,” or PHD Comics, for short.
Did you know that of all the stuff in the universe only 5% is ordinary matter, that we know something about, 27% is about dark matter, that we know very little about, and 68% is dark energy, about which, as the authors say, we have “no clue?”
Speaking of “no clue,” I have no idea about when my next Chimera Spoor post will be or what in this goofy universe (or multiverse) it will be about. Happy trails until then!
Multiverse Comics and Stories, 106 pages, full color, is available from Amazon in Kindle and hardcopy formats.
Asteroid Stu and the Mind-Duel, 54 pages, black and white interior, is also available in Kindle and hardcopy formats from Amazon. Both comics include Edzl, the Nebboid from the Vague Nebula, who will be the lead character in a running feature story, “Edzl’s Awakening: Or, Yes We Have Some Nibbanas.”