Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stickleback: England's Glory Part 5 References

The underground river Fleet from Stickleback part 5
Stickleback © 2008 Rebellion Developments/2000AD
Stickleback created by Ian Edginton & Me.

The Temple of Mithras
Mithraism was a mystery religion that was practised in the Roman empire from the 1st to the 4th century AD, and was popular among members of the lower nobility and soldiers. Like Druidism, its secrets were not written down, so little is known about it today.
The temple on page 1 has no historical basis; I cobbled it together from a reconstruction of a "temple of apollo" at Stourhead and an image of Mithras from a bas-relief. Since Mithraism was based upon closely-guarded mysteries, it's strongly doubtful that real Mithraic temples would have advertised their contents in this way.
Statues and carvings of Mithras survive to the present day; he is often depicted as a young man wrestling a bull. This representation, called a tauroctony, can be seen at the bottom of page 2 panel 1.

The Library of the Brotherhood of the Book
Created as a repository for all human knowledge following the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, The Library of the Brotherhood of the Book was first introduced to the "Edgiverse" in the 2000AD pirate series Red Seas. At the suggestion of Red Seas artist Steve Yeowell, Ian Edginton made the library a nexus of parallel realities (similar to Terry Pratchett's L-Space concept), so that events occurring here in Stickleback do not necessarily impinge on the continuity of events in Red Seas.
My design for the library was inspired by the circular reading room of the old British Library (in the British Museum). There are two representations of Mithras at the bottom this panel, one tauroctony, where he's wrestling a bull, and one disembodied head. Ian also asked me add references to Thoth-Hermes or "Hermes Trismegistus," (a melding or "syncretism" of Thoth and Hermes, Egyptian and Greek gods of writing and magic. During the middle ages and Renaissance, writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus were popular among alchemists.) I collected reference images of both gods, but only remembered to include statues of Hermes in the strip!
Finally, and completely arbitrarily, a tiny iron mask of Doctor Doom from Marvel Comics' The Fantastic Four can just be seen between the two statues of Mithras.

Orlando D0yle
The deliciously-hissable villain from the first series of Red Seas, Doyle appears here as the the blind Librarian of the Brotherhood of the Book. He is shown as being blind, but granted sight by a magic bandage with an eye drawn upon it that rests over his eyes. The concept of a blind man who has otherwordly knowledge or second sight goes back to the seer Tireseus in ancient Greek literature.

The Judas Silver
Doyle is collecting the 30 pieces of silver with which the apostle Judas Iscariot was paid for betraying Christ to the Romans in the Garden of Gethsemane.

This Is A Box, A Musical Box, Wound Up And Ready To Play
The musical box from the 1966 children's series Camberwick Green, written and produced by Gordon Murray and narrated by Brian Cant. The series was made using stop-motion animation.
The series was set in the small village of Camberwick Green, and followed the daily lives of the inhabitants. Each episode would begin with a musical box playing on a table, over which was heard the narrator:

"Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?"

At this point, the puppet character who was central to the episode would emerge from the musical box. The subsequent story would be about a day in the life of that character, who would return to the box at the end of the episode.

Eastern Potentate
Intended to be reminiscent of Sax Rohmer's eastern über-villain Dr. Fu Manchu.

The One-Eyed Yellow Idol To The North Of Katmandu
From the first line of J. Milton Hayes' famous monologue The Green Eye of the Little yellow God:

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu, There's a little marble cross below the town; There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew, And the Yellow God forever gazes down.

"Mad Carew" also appears in two panels on the same page.

Latin Inscription Below Picture of Dragon
Courtesy of my Latin-teaching belovéd, the erudite Dr.F; Ova draconis, placent aut elixa aut fricta - "Dragon's egg, pleasant boiled or fried."

Resurrection Bullets
The notion of a weapon that can capture the souls of its victims is inspired by the "Children of the Hydra's Teeth" sequence from the 1963 Charles Schneer/Ray Harryhausen film Jason and the Argonauts. In the film, Jason kills the guardian hydra in his quest to capture the Golden Fleece, but King Aeetes tries to foil his escape by extracting the Hydra's teeth and sowing them in the ground. Where the teeth have fallen, skeleton warriors (those once killed by the hydra) spring up to battle Jason.
In the Greek myths, Jason arrives in the land of Colchis to claim the Golden Fleece. King Aeetes of Colchis agrees to let him have the fleece, provided he can complete the following labour; to harness two fire-breathing bulls, plough a vast field, sow the field with dragons teeth, then defeat the army of warriors that spring up. Jason survives the fire-breathing bull thanks to a potion given him by Aeetes' daughter Medea; he defeats the warriors by throwing rocks at them from hiding, causing them to mistakenly attack each each other.
The hydra makes no appearance in the myth; defeating him was one of the labours of Hercules. Harryhausen's film version wasn't faithful to the myth, but made for great cinema: there's a TV mini-series from 2000 that includes the harnessing of the bull, the sowing of the teeth and the warriors, and to be honest, it's a bit dull.


james corcoran said...

Should I feel bad that the Camberwick Green one was about the only one i spotted.Loving the series and thanks again for the Cyberman!!

Anonymous said...

'This Is A Box, A Musical Box, Wound Up And Ready To Play'

Agh, that made me LOL at the memory there by getting some funny looks from workmates!

Thanks again