Tag Archives: Midgard Serpent

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Sea Serpent

In an earlier post from this category of Mythological Beasts and Spirits, I mentioned that the Lindorm was sometimes described as a sea serpent, sometimes not. Sea serpents appear in multiple myths and legends. The Midgard Serpent in Norse mythology might be regarded as a sea serpent since Thor went fishing for it in one account within The Prose Edda. This concept for a monster is evidently very resonant in the human mind, and I wanted to develop it for my fabricated myth, The Fear of a Farmer.

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From The Fear of a Farmer (Copyright: 2017 Robert Lambert Jones III).

The following image is apparently taken from a book, and its caption indicates that this sketch by W. D. Munro was of an alleged sea serpent that washed ashore in Hungary Bay, Bermuda, in 1860. From the appearance of the creature, it is obviously an oarfish.

sea serpent 1

The following illustration is by Tamplier Painter and takes an approach common to modern fantasy art: the employment of frills and fins. The profile of the head resembles that of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

sea serpent 3

Older illustrations often did little more than depict sea serpents as over-sized snakes with minimal embellishment.

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Sea_serpent_Cape_Ann

For the picture at the top of this post, I chose to use a similar approach by eliminating fins and other appendages. That made coming up with an interesting head shape important. You’ll be the judge as to whether or not I succeeded. I combined the features of a T. rex (mainly the line of the upper jaw), an alligator (eyes, ┬ásnout, and hinge of lower jaw), certain snakes ( body and enlarged ear opening), and some lizards (dewlap or throat pouch). To these, I added a bulging pate and rather prominent ridges above the eyes, ears, and nostrils. I’m a biologist as well as a monster aficionado from way back, so this was a fun project for my inner ten-year-old. Below is the initial profile of the head on which I have based all of my other drawings of the sea serpent in my story.

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From The Fear of a Farmer (Copyright: 2017 Robert Lambert Jones III).

I’ll end this with a painting by Edward Burne-Jones depicting a story from Greek mythology. It shows Perseus rescuing Andromeda from Cetus, the sea serpent to which she was being sacrificed… by her parents!

Perseus-Slaying-Dragon-L
The Doom Fulfilled by Edward Burne-Jones

Next week, I will cover one more creature whose description defies illustration. Nonetheless, that has not dissuaded some artists (or me) from trying.

Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (3)

Thor

He is the god of thunder, lightning, and strength, etc. Odin and Freya are his parents. His attributes make for some impressive imagery. As examples, consider the following paintings.

Thor's Battle Against the Jotnar (1872) by Marten Eskil Winge
Thor’s Battle Against the Jotnar (1872) by Marten Eskil Winge

Thor and the Midgard Serpent (1905) by Emil Doepler
Thor and the Midgard Serpent (1905) by Emil Doepler

Thor is only one of the Norse gods which Marvel Comics has borrowed. He first landed in August of 1962.

Jim083

As is often the case, the artwork grew more sophisticated over the years. I must confess, however, that I have developed a real appreciation and enjoyment of the artwork of the Silver Age of Comics. It is the style I grew up with.

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

How can I resist showing this representation by Alex Ross?

thor_alex_ross

The Disney Marvel franchise has produced some interesting refinements for application to the big screen. In so doing, they have produced some truly iconic imagery for their characters, including Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth). Some fans have complained that the movies have changed the way that these characters are drawn and described in the comics. One additional thing that I like about the Thor movies I have seen is how they mix Norse mythology with science fiction.

Picture credit: Disney Marvel
Picture credit: Disney Marvel

One of my favorite visual sequences was of Thor summoning lightning from atop the Chrysler Building in New York during the great battle with alien invaders in the first Avengers movie. That’s all for now. Next time, another week, another god.