Saturday, April 4, 2009
(You: Is there a way to make this image larger? It is kind of blurry.
Me: Click on it.)
Bizarro is made possible by a grant from The Flying Fat Man Foundation.
The common perception of Atlas holding up the earth is inaccurate–according to Greek myth, Atlas was made to bear the weight of the heavens, not Earth as punishment for wrecking Zeus's car. The heavens were commonly illustrated as a celestial sphere, which is commonly misconstrued as the earth. Yes, this will be on the test.
Still, cartoons are based on common knowledge and cliches, so in drawing a cartoon about Atlas holding up the earth, you're faced with how to draw what Atlas is standing on. Here, I chose to make it a nebulous region of space. The whole concept of the Earth needing to be held up so it doesn't fall is flawed, of course. This first occurred to me when I was a child–where would the Earth fall to? And what would Atlas be standing on?
From an early age I was always trying to make sense of myths and religion (one man's myth is another man's religion and vice versa). As a kid in Catholic school I often asked questions like George Carlin's famous example: If God can do anything, can he make a rock so big that even He can't lift it?
Associating two costumed characters of legendary strength, here I have a luchador holding up the earth for Atlas while he runs and errand. In Greek myth, it was Heracles (Hercules) who took a shift. I like the absurdity of lucha libre costumes and use luchadores in my fine art fairly frequently, too.
Below is a cartoon I did back in the day that addresses the issue of Atlas's position under the Earth. It's one of my favorites from my early career. You may notice that the coloring is much different and a bit primitive. It was done before cartoonists were doing their own coloring on computer, so we had to designate on tracing paper where what colors went, then send them to a company to create film for the color separations. I always just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. This one didn't turn out too badly, but it looks much different than it would today.
All these years later, I still think this is a pretty good gag. As usual, click the image for a clearer view. Of course, this image presents its own logic difficulties: What keeps Atlas's skirt from falling down? (up)