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TurnerMohan's avatar


In middle-earth, as in greek mythology, the doors to Hell are guarded by a canine; Carcharoth, "the red maw" is the biggest and baddest of the wolves of Draugluin's brood, fed on living flesh by Morgoth's own hand and grown to immense size, he sits ever-watchful at the gate of Thangorodrim, and is eventually taken out, as per the prophecy, by Huan the Wolfhound.

Really I've never thought you need any kind of extensively anthropomorphic design for the evil "wolves" of middle-earth like Carcharoth; he's just this vicious, demonic, princess mononoke-sized wolf, more visibly malevolent than a real life wolf I suppose, but generally I don't see wolves in mythology (including tolkien's) as needing to be elaborately designed movie creations. Humanity's been afraid of good-old-fashioned wolves since day one, and we have a thousands-of-years-old tradition of portraying them as ravenous villains, from Fenrir the wolf-monster of norse mythology (who bites off Tyr's hand, a scene to which the scene with Carcharoth is an obvious nod) to the cunning beast in "the three little pigs". They are man's enemy, representing in our myths the unrestrained, predatory id. for this reason they are frequently painted in our stories as sexual aggressors (ala "little red riding hood," "dracula" or the titular "wolfman") and there are, whether by Tolkien's intention or not, significant shades of sexual aggression in the tale of Beren and Luthein, who in their quest to earn and consumate their right to their pure, perfect love, are (and specifically Luthien) constantly on the recieving end of advances, attempted seductions and abductions by Sauron's wolves, the sons of Feanor, and Morgoth himself. She is beset by "wolves" on all sides (they are a prevailing visual motif of the tale) and is protected by the competent, near-parental figure of Huan, a dog - the civilized version of a wolf - and slayer of wolves. (the common presentation of the emnity between wolves and dogs; closely related to eachother but one being man's enemy and the other man's best friend, speaks to what I believe is this ancient, common - and, though unfashionable in the postmodernist era, to some degree ongoing - notion that the natural world on it's own (including the "natural man") is evil, but if domesticated you can harness it's best elements (strength, courage, group loyalty) but improve them with the tempering effect of civilization and morality (Tolkien, despite an evident respect for the wild, natural world, seems to have held atleast in part with this opinion))

As a last note, I really see the tale of Beren and Luthien as being Luthien's story more than Beren's; she does almost everything important (beren just kind of passes out alot) and there's something snarky, almost Shrek-like even, about how beren's attempts to take charge and and engage in macho heroics tend to end in epic fail (nowhere moreso than in the moment depicted above ;))

part of the weekly tolkien sketchblog
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This has similar vibe than The Big Bad Wolf, AKA Bigby Wolf has in Wolf Among Us - it is a wolf. Large enough to rip humans apart like dog rips rats apart. It is as smart as human is. It hates you. Personally. And you are face-to-face with it.

Of course their roles in story are completely different, but just taking the horrifying traits of mythical wolves and amplifying them to nth degree makes sufficiently scary monster.

Ah, the Ancalagon of werewolves. Very nice what you've done here, simple and non-Hollywood yet very realistic, supernatural and terrifying! Those glinting eyes, the snarl and fangs and hair and claws, and the way Carcharoth is in the darkness surrounding Beren and Luthien, lurking in the shadows as they're beaten back just a couple metres by the Silmaril's light.

Also, your interpretation and beliefs on Tolkien's views of wolves and nature are interesting. That view, the human arrogance that nature is encompassed by us and not the other way round, as a wise Godzilla film character once said; is probably one of the reasons why Harry Potter wa smy true heart of childhood literature and not J.R.R. Tolkien's works.
Eamane99's avatar
One of the better depictions of Carcharoth I've seen, well done, but you've drawn Beren holding up the wrong hand. 
evilcatlord's avatar
This looks amazing and extremly haunting!
It gives me chills to imagine an encounter with such a fearsome creature.
All yours drawings are a truly inspiration, keep up the good work ;)
Really hope to become as good as you someday :p
kimberly80's avatar
Karharot this, it's just great, so black darkness and light absorbing element admire ...
DOTB18's avatar
What would you say differentiates a "wolf" like Carcharoth from a warg?
TurnerMohan's avatar
nothing really. tolkien (like much of the ancient legends and sagas that he drew inspiration from) doesnt seem to be as concerned with fantasy taxonomy as your average D&D fan; he freely uses the words "dragon" "drake" and "worm" interchangeably to refer to any kind of dragon, whether flying or grounded, fire-breathing or not (which is what really pisses me off about all these idiotic "movie-smaug-is-not-a-dragon" people) so I tend to think that "wolves" (at least of the evil variety, though as far as I know it's unspecified whether there are any wolves in middle-earth that are not evil) and "wargs" are more or less interchangeable, both are fell spirits inhabiting wolf-bodies (or the descendents thereof). maybe "were-wolves" are something different, but tolkien never specifies whether "were-wolves" means that they can transform into something other than a wolf or not, and even at taur-ingaurhoth, the "isle of werewolves" it seems that only wolves are mentioned. maybe Were-wolves are maiar spirits who can appear as wolves, like the plain old "wolves" drauglin and carcharoth, but are capable of shifting into something else, like vampires, as sauron does.
Ragnarok6664's avatar
Fenrir on my mind..
Artigas's avatar
Your compositions reminds me of master Frazetta. Simple yet powerfull. It is not anyone who could do that.
Libra1010's avatar
 While I suspect that my ongoing investigation to discover the perfect canine model for The Hound of Valinor can best be described as amusing or a nuisance rather than interesting I must say that I've discovered a particularly strong candidate:-

 The 'Anatolian Shepherd Dog' which seems to combine imposing size with a fairly athletic, reassuring 'Dog' look (rather like a labrador bred to chase down and kill predators, if you know what I mean): please take a look at the other end of this link to see what I mean.…

 Unless I'm much mistaken it's the same breed that Ms. Catherine Karina Chmiel seems to have used as a model for her own depiction of Huan, Captain of Hounds.…
TurnerMohan's avatar
I should have posted this earlier, as i see you've asked me my opinion about huan before, but one of the reasons why i've never touched huan (and probably dont intend to, unless it's to use him in a composed "scene" with other characters) is that, for my money, the more or less perfect image of him already exists Huan. Losgar.

i lean toward wolfhound in my conception of the character (and mostly have to thank that illustration for solidifying that in my mind) they have a very authentically ancient but surprisingly civilized and 'bred' look to them, less 'wild and free', but also a lot less goofy, than how so many artists depict him as basically a horse sized wolf (it's amazing how many depictions of luthien and huan end up looking like something out of the twilight saga) huan, like real life dogs (especially wolfhounds) is a canine (or atleast a maiar in canine form) and so you might say he shares "blood", the way wolves and dogs, with the maiar-inhabited drauglin and his ilk, but he is not a wolf, but a dog, a friend of man instead of it's enemy. a slayer of wolves. he is a civilized thing. I think tolkien, for all his problems with industrial society, was very pro-civilization (in that antique, religiously influenced sense, whereby the natural, barbaric world on it's own, both human and animal, is kind of an evil thing, or at best posesed of an inherent morality that makes it ready to recieve the Knowledge, and the civilizing effect that comes with it) and indeed a dichotomy where wolves, these wild, feral, ravenous things, are the villains, and the dog protects the hero, seems very much in keeping with tolkien's larger aesthetic (this was shared by cs lewis, a fellow serious christian, who cast the wolves as the servants of evil, and then (predictably) given a post-modern, post-christian makeover by george rr martin, who recast wolves, like the 'first men' starks who they represent, as these wild and free underdog heroes, while recasting the dog as the collared protector not of man, but of tyrranical little pukes like joffery)
Libra1010's avatar
 The which is an insult to Man's Best Friend! (or to the Hound, for that matter).

 I admit that I admire that image for the weight of knowledge and even self-knowledge the artist invests Huan with, but I'm still not quite certain I see The Captain of Dogs as a Irish Wolfhound in my mind's eye (I'm very happy to see him depicted as such, but am not sure that if called upon to describe him for an artist I would use that particular breed as a model - if only so I can consider myself at least a LITTLE distinctive - hence my ongoing quest to work out just how I see him).

 I must admit that my habitual description of Huan as the 'Liam Neeson of Wonder Dogs' is grounded in part on that very image and that movie 'The Grey' which I believe has been mentioned at some point in my nattering (it's not that I see Huan as very similar to The Great Lion - I see The Hound of Valinor as a bit more rough-and-ready, a bit more avuncular than he is paternal and more to the point much less subtle, given that his day-job is tearing into wolves and not the Salvation of whichever poor fools find themselves beset by the powers of EVIL today).

 One thing I do feel rather strongly about concerning Huan is that he should seem a NATURAL giant, so far as pony-sized pooches go; like my mental image of Horses in Rohan, he's treated well and works hard for his living rather than looking like a pampered pet (believe it or not I've actually done my best to work out which horse-breeds might be the best source of inspiration for Rohirrim horse-stock: if you're interested please ask me for further information by all means, but if you are not then I'll confine myself to saying that I looked primarily at Hungarian breeds by virtue of the Hungarian Plain being roughly comparable to The Mark of Rohan, not to mention Hungary being founded by nomads turned knights of the plains) - Huan is BIG, but not ridiculously outsized like Morgoth's steroid-abusing attack wolf old Red-Jaws (I'd call him the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Wolves, since it seems appropriate - over muscled, but with a cunning gleam in his eye).
Libra1010's avatar
 If anyone reading through Master Mohan's remarks above STILL requires proof that wolves are SCAREY please watch 'The Grey' but do remember to keep the lights on when doing so … 
Libra1010's avatar
 Hmmm … further research has led me to some images of Irish Wolfhound/Great Dane crosses; I'm STILL not sure they look precisely the way Huan OUGHT to look (wolf-dog or wolf-hound?!?), but they're not a bad start in my opinion.

 Please be careful; the website at the other end of the following link may contain puppies.…
Libra1010's avatar
As per your request Master Mohan, I have moved my discussion of Werewolves to here from beneath your Ancalagon - thank you for answering my query by the way, although it may irk you to know that I have another; just how would you distinguish Draugluin from his Brobdingnagian descendant Carcharoth? (per your thoughts on the character as a peer of Huan who chose the other side, it might be interesting to depict him as a guard-dog gone feral, big-boned but gaunt like a well-nourished beast obliged to fend for itself in an unkind world).

 While on the subject of Wolves and Luthien, it occurs to me to bring before you my great dilemma regarding Huan, Captain of Hounds: I can never quite decide if I see him as more Hound-like (with floppy ears and a blunter muzzle) or more like a loyal wolf-dog (in effect the very model which Carcharoth is created in distortion and mockery of, as the Orcs were created as a mockery of elves); about the only thing that fixed in my mind concerning Huan's appearance is size (not QUITE horse-sized but bigger even than a Great Dane - perhaps about the size of a working pony so that Luthien riding him looks peculiar rather than natural).

 I must admit that quite recently I saw a depiction of an Irish wolfhound golden-furred which I rather liked; a nice contrast to the presumably iron-grey fur of Carcharoth and wolves in general (it also plays into my mental image of Huan as the Liam Neeson of dogs!).
 In all honesty I'm not sure that last mental image doesn't settle my difficulty in imagining Huan as more wolfhound than wolf-dog once and for all! (still, I would be interested in hearing your opinion).:) (Smile)…
Libra1010's avatar
 THE Big Bad Wolf of Middle Earth, in all his glory and terror!Oh Noes!

 It actually struck me today that The Lay of Luthien and the story of her love for Luthien actually maps rather beautifully to the present Disney vogue for go-getter princesses; heck, it even has musical sequences and a talking animal!

My only reservations are that any animated adaption would have to be genuinely All Ages rather than 'Adults Only' or 'For Kids' (it should, of course, be fit for all children aged between eight and eighty-eight - and Up!); also that classical animation is the only way to go for Tolkien. 
jayden444's avatar
YES YES YES Do more of these!! :]]]]]]]
TurnerMohan's avatar
NordicLynx's avatar
Very nicely drawn! :)
Lt-Snuggs's avatar
You're so amazing. *Bows respectfully
MerryMohProductions's avatar
That's another problem I tend to have with Tolkien's Mumakil and Fell Beasts; which were just "mammoth-elephants" and pterosaurs.

With the eagles, they didn't look like Kaiju birds, they were friggin Eagles. So what only animals on the protagonist's side look normal.
TurnerMohan's avatar
I think with the animals in the movies (and actually this is much more true of the races of people) while the good ones were just basically creatures from the real world (or cultures, like the deliberately anglo-saxon rohirrim or the very Italic gondorians) whereas the evil ones were film creations, because, whereas in the past it was popularly believed that wolves are evil (or arabics for that matter) now that we've all been raised with Zoobooks and a more empathetic perspective on other creatures (either other people or animals) we don't generally think of any animals or other cultures as being evil, so to make "evil" beasts or "evil" men, the filmmakers kind of had to step outside of real-life examples like wolves or elephants or arabic/hunnic people, and create more original and monstrous adversaries that the audience would be less inclined to sympathy for.

I myself was trying with this drawing to sort of go "back in time" so to speak (in popular imagination) and do a wolf-monster as one might be imagined by, say, people from a thousand years ago, who would have had no difficulty believing in the evil nature of real life wolves.
Iglybo's avatar
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