Dave Sim’s Cerebus in Hell? (2017)

“The first new Cerebus comic since 2004! Where has Cerebus been since he died twelve years ago? Is he in hell? Purgatory? Limbo?”    — Rich Johnston, Bleeding Cool, June 22, 2016

Check out Dave Sim’s Doré-inspired 2017 Cerebus in Hell? here.

To read about the controversy surrounding the title (“Cerebus” vs. “Cerberus”), see Rich Johnston’s blogposts here and here.

Visions of Hell: Dark Souls cultural heritage

“It’s hard to place a finger on the most recognizable reference to Gustave Doré’s incredible illustrations in the Dark Souls series. The artist, who in a short 50 year life span produced over 100,000 pieces, and illustrated many of the great works of world literature, haunts many a crooked corner of Lordran, Drangleic, and Lothric. Flicking through his illustrations for Dante Alighieri’s great masterwork The Divine Comedy (1320), it is impossible not to be reminded of the landscapes and demons of Dark Souls. On top of a sheer rock wall we see a clutch of figures, huddled like the Deacons of the Dark. In a shallow pool lie piles of corpses, twisted into an inseparable mess, like the horrible sights that await in the drained ruins of New Londo. The great king Nimrod chained, now a giant and no longer a man, echoes the lost ruler of Drangleic. It is no surprise that it is the first book of The Divine Comedy, Inferno, depicting Dante’s journey through hell, that brings us these images. Doré’s bleak, stony, and understated depictions of Satan’s kingdom so strongly contrasted with decades of medieval hellfire that had gone before. They are powerfully mythic images, ones that have been reached for again and again by artists in search of the power of the dark.

“Though iconic now, the success of Inferno was never assured. Many of Doré’s supporters called it too ambitious and too expensive a project, and so, in 1861, driven by his passion for the source material he funded its publication himself. His risk paid off, and the volume and its subsequent sister volumes Purgatorio and Paradiso, depicting purgatory and Heaven respectively, became his most notable works. A critic at the time of its publication wrote that the illustrations were so powerful that both Dante and Doré must have been ‘communicating by occult and solemn conversations the secret of this Hell plowed by their souls, traveled, explored by them in every sense.’ This plumbing of the depths of despair in search of beauty is the true thematic link between these illustrations and Dark Souls art. Like the monsters of Kuniyoshi, in Doré we don’t just see the aesthetic roots of Dark Souls, we see its themes—the concepts of loss, despair, and the allure of the occult sketched out in chiaroscuro black-and-white.” [. . .]    –Gareth Damian Martin, Kill Screen, May 11, 2016.

Extracts from Alasdair Gray’s New Translation of Dante

“DANTE writes that at the age of 35, exactly half way through the 70 years the Bible tells us is the span of human life, he found himself lost in a dark wood, and that his way out was barred by three fierce animals – a leopard, a lion and a wolf. The wood is a symbol for the state of sin in which Dante believed himself to have fallen, and the animals may be specific sins – lust, arrogance and avarice, although the meanings are disputed.

“As Dante flounders about, he is approached by a shadow who turns out to be Virgil, the great poet of ancient Rome, who tells him he has been dispatched by saints in heaven to aid him. Virgil will be Dante’s ‘Guide, Lord and Master,’ as Alasdair Gray puts it. The only passable route will take him through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, where he will end up before the throne of God.” […]    –Alasdair Gray and Joseph Farrell, The National, October 7, 2018

Os Mutantes, A Divina Comédia (ou Ando Meio Desligado) (Polydor, 1970)

os-mutantes-a-divina-comedia-ou-ando-meio-desligado“Along with the fascinating cover art — which finds the middle ground between the lurid, low-budget, exploitation cinema of filmmakers like Jean Rollin or Mario Bava, with the higher aspirations of gothic literature, à la Edgar Allen Poe — the literal English translation of the title suggests further hints towards the notions behind the album, with A Divina Comédia (ou Ando Meio Desligado) interpreted as The Divine Comedy (or I Walk a Bit Disconnected), with the reference to walking disconnected pointing towards 1960’s stoner culture and the various preoccupations with the living dead (once again, check out the Gustave Doré referencing cover art for more…). It sums up the spirit of the album perfectly, with continual references to Dante’s eponymous collection, religious cults, black mass, Satanism and the teachings of Aleister Crowley. It’s all a bit more tongue-in-cheek than the influences would suggest, with the band famously making loving pastiche and parody of the California rock scene, as well as including a straight-as-straight-can-get version of a doo-wop song that ties in nicely with similar tracks that Frank Zappa was creating for the first Mothers of Invention album, Freak Out! (1966), in particular the likes ‘Go Cry on Somebody Else’s Shoulder’ and ‘How Could I Be Such a Fool’?” — Robin Tripp, Review for Head Heritage, June 19, 2007

Contributed by Pearl Nelson-Greene (University of Kansas, 2020)

Cartoonist Steve Bell’s “Brexit Hell”

Steve-Bell-Brexit-Hell-Cartoons-TreacheryIn early December 2018 British cartoonist Steve Bell published a series of Dante-inspired images in his If… cartoon strip. Adapting Doré’s illustrations of Cocytus (with one addition from the Malebolge), Bell’s cartoons comment on the Parliamentary Debate over Brexit. Contributor Nick Havely glosses, “[the cartoons] depict Theresa May’s journey through ‘Brexit Hell’ accompanied by Arlene Foster (leader of the N. Ireland ultra-Protestant DUP on whom May is dependent for her majority). The Dantean sequence began on 29 November and seems to have culminated last Thursday [6 December] in an encounter with Trump as Lucifer.”

The If… cartoons can be viewed on The Guardian‘s website at the following links: Nov 29, Dec 3, Dec 4, Dec 5, and Dec 6.

Contributed by Nick Havely

Vittorio Tranini Fresco, Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Lugano)

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Photo credit Giacomo Berchi (6/13/2016)

Fresco of Dante by Vittorio Tranini, Basilica del Sacro Cuore, Lugano, Switzerland. Contributor Giacomo Berchi gives the following description: “A small frame in the right transept of the Basilica, under the mosaic of St. Francis. In it there are a portrait of Dante, deliberately inspired by Doré’s one, into which there is the capital letter ‘N’ of the quote from Par. XI, 106-08: ‘Nel crudo sasso intra Tevere ed Arno / da Cristo prese l’ultimo sigillo / che le sue membra du’anni portarno’. Frescos painted by Vittorio Tranini between 1934 and 1954.”

Contributed by Giacomo Berchi (Istituto di Studi Italiani, USI, Lugano, CH)

Dante’s Inferno Bicycle Playing Card Deck

Bicycle Dante's Inferno“The Inferno is a customized 56 card black and metallic ink playing card deck printed by USPCC and inspired by Dante Alighieri’s literary classic The Divine Comedy.

“Three months in the making, each of the Jacks, Queens, and Kings represents a major figure from The Inferno.

“Each completely original character was designed as a modern interpretation that is true to the text and framed after the most famous ‘Inferno’ Illustrations created by renowned artist Gustave Dore in the 19th Century.  Staying true to that vision, we have created images utilizing he original Dore plates for our backgrounds.”    —Bicycle Inferno Kickstarter

View images of some of the cards here.

Contributed by Iris McComb (Bowdoin College ’14)

Engraved Wall Murals and Sculpture Garden at Casa Galiano, NJ

engraved-wall-murals-casa-galiano“Now on exhibit is an engraved marble wall mural of Dante Alighieri’s INFERNO based on 70 images by nineteenth century French engraver Gustave Doré. Accompanying each scene is a corresponding verse and title in Italian with English translation. The pictorial images and lettering were burnt into the surface of black marble tiles using a laser engraving machine. The mural covers 205 square feet , the main section being 8′-6″ high by 22′-0″ long and consists of marble tiles mounted on sixteen removable wood panels. Located at Casa Galiano (the artist’s residence in East Brunswick, NJ) the mural hangs on the east wall of an art gallery addition. Each image has a specific verse chosen to best describe the scene. The mural is presented in chronological order from left to right so that the viewer can follow Dante’s journey from the dark wood to the frozen Satan. It is the artist’s intention to showcase the imagination, language and poetry of Dante’s INFERNO fused with the dramatic visual detailed artwork of Gustave Doré.”    –Dino Galiano

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“A sculpture garden features high relief marble carvings depicting scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy. The centerpiece is a solid marble sculpture entitled, The Commedia Block, which is carved on all four sides showing the divisions of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso as well as portraits of Dante, Virgil and Beatrice.”    —Casa Galiano

See Casa Galiano to learn more and see additional photos.

Purgatorio-canto-32-dante-mural

Contributed by Dino Galiano

Dante’s Inferno Razor

dantes-inferno-razor“This is a job from a couple months ago. This was one of the most intense themes I have done. Tons of details in very small places. The theme was Dante’s Inferno and the images are based on Dore’s illustrations for the book. The toughest part was that I had to alter the images to make them fit the format of the windows. I had to make the altered images still recognizable as the classic Dore illustrations.
The ‘frames’ are sculpted and the images are bulino engraved. The scenes on the hidden panels were also bulino engraved. The knife was made by Joe Kious of Kerrville, TX.”    —Straight Razor Place, December 14, 2011

Contributed by David Israel

Dante Keyring

dante-keyring
“2.75inch x 2 inch (7.5cm x 5cm) Keyring Gustave Doré Dante 002 Frontispiece.”    –Danetre Gifts, Amazon

Contributed by Patrick Molloy