I have always felt some sympathy towards Hades. He had to contend with this upstart little brother in Zeus who gets everything he wants his own way. Then – having assisted baby brother and other brother Poseidon in the defeat of their child-munching father Cronus – the victors draw lots for dominions and he ends up with the Underworld. Ruling the sky and the sea sounds like pretty sweet jobs to me whereas ruling the Underworld is pretty much the minimum wage call centre job of Greek Mythology. And Hades was immortal so he got to manage endless dead folk relentlessly for all eternity. And as if that was not dire enough, managing the Underworld also meant keeping control of the prison population of Tartarus, a group of hard-core ne’er-do-wells guilty of maximum security crimes which included the Titans. Do you think Hades could have been happy in his work?
Of course, my cup of sympathy runs dry when it comes to his tyranny over his employees and his creative and imaginative methods of punishing certain residents of the Underworld. Then there is the whole abduction of Persephone thing.
In my mind’s eye, therefore, Hades was grim-faced and weary, worn down and bitter. This was helpful as it assisted me in avoiding coming under the influence of the depiction of Hades in the Disney movie ‘Hercules’. That might be the most underrated Disney movie ever. I think it is stellar and I actually don’t think James Woods has done anything better in his lengthy career than his vocal performance of Hades, all snarl, snark and sneer. The Gerald Scarfe influenced character design is also sheer perfection, particularly the flaming hair that ignites in anger. Thankfully that brashly confident, speed-talking version of Hades did not conform to the way I wished to represent him so I could produce a sketch that did not look Disney-esque.
I actually found Hades really easy to draw and my sketch version and final version are almost identical. I gave him the hollow cheekbones to suggest someone perhaps moribund having spent too much time among the deceased, heavily lidded eyes and a solid brow to suggest weariness but the sharp nose and pointed beard as signifiers of his harsh qualities. The skull-adorned head gear is supposed to be the Helm of Darkness, though of course it has not rendered the wearer invisible – though that would have been much easier to draw. I added skull and crossbones embellishments to his clothing for good measure. And because I like drawing skulls.
I am sure it is wrong and probably egotistical to have favourites among your drawings but until today Medusa had been my favourite drawing from this 40 Drawings in 40 Days challenge; now, however, I think Medusa has been usurped by Hades in my affections.