Their repeated attempts to get me to reveal who or what a “Pickarese” was and why it inspired in me the compulsion to wear a makeshift-toga and brandish my father’s oversized ring at things while making laser sounds were in vain.
My parents were pretty baffled regarding these episodes, until one morning my mother awoke early at 6am and came downstairs to find me transfixed to the TV watching a cartoon called…”The Mighty Hercules”.
This Hercules lived (as might be expected) in ancient Greece, hung with King Dorian, and dated the fair Helena, a limited animation version of a Vargas girl. Newt (short for Newton), an annoying centaur of variable but always diminutive stature usually accompanied Herc, and failed to endear himself to the audience, largely due to his tendancy to repeat things in a helium-sucking voice. Repeat things in a helium-sucking voice. The cartoon also occasionally featured a satyr named Toot; mute Toot communicated with Herc and Newt by toodling his pipes (ahem...more on that later)
To call this cartoon series 'limited animation' is stretching even that broadly defined term. The animation was only a step above those toy TVs with the record player on top that you slid the filmstrips through. Whole conversations would take place with only three or four frames changing, and it would be the same sequence you saw time and time again. Despite that, the character designs are actually quite nice, done in a stream-lined C.C. Beck-esque style.
Hercules, Last Son of Krypton
Joseph Campbell's concept of the Monomyth is a general framework which provides a description of the significant elements of the world's mythology. His theory is comprehensively described in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, summarised in a single sentence (p30): The hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Campbell gives a more complete summary on p245 with some indication of the many variations around the central theme:
The mythological hero, setting forth from his commonday hut or castle, is lured, carried away, or else voluntarily proceeds, to the threshold of adventure. There he encounters a shadowy presence that guards the passage. The hero may defeat or conciliate this power and go alive into the kingdom of the dark (brother-battle, dragon-battle; offering, charm), or be slain by the Opponent and descend in death (dismemberment, crucifixion). Beyond the threshold, then, the hero journeys through a world of unfamiliar yet strangely intimate forces, some of which severely threaten him (tests), some of which give magical aid (helpers). When he arrives at the nadir of the mythological round, he undergoes a supreme ordeal and gains his reward. The triumph may be represented as the hero's sexual union with the goddess-mother of the world (sacred marriage), his recognition by the father-creator (father atonement), his own divinization (apotheosis), or again - if the powers have remained unfriendly to him - his theft of the boon he came to gain (bride-theft, fire-theft); intrinsically it is an expansion of consciousness and therewith of being (illumination, transfiguration, freedom). The final work is that of the return. If the powers have blessed the hero, he now sets forth under their protection (emissary); if not, he flees and is pursued (transformation flight, obstacle flight). At the return threshold the transcendental powers must remain behind; the hero re-emerges from the kingdom of dread (return, resurrection). The boon that he brings restores the world (elixir). The changes rung on the simple scale of the monomyth defy description. Many tales isolate and greatly enlarge upon one or two of the typical elements of the full cycle (test motif, flight motif, abduction of the bride), others string a number of independent cycles into a single series (as in the Odyssey).
Out of the Aegean Closet
For example, lets start with the Johnny Mathis’ style theme song:
people are safe when near him
only the evil fear him
softness in his eyes
iron in his thighs
virtue in his heart
fire in every part
of the mighty