Friday, February 17, 2006

I've been meaning to mention: have you read "The Age of Bronze" (the Iliad rendered as an archeologically-accurate series of 7 graphic novels)? I just finished the first one, "A Thousand Ships" on the recommendation of a friend and found it wildly effective. The artist makes a few decisions I felt a little leery of, such as abandoning the familiar in medias res opening of Achilles & Agamemnon arguing and instead setting it all chronological--so the first scene is Paris farming (or was it hunting?) with his adoptive (though he doesn't know it yet) dad. But after the first twenty pages or so, I found myself really getting drawn in.

Maybe it's because I'm *so* familiar with the characters and the story, but I found seeing the various actions portrayed graphically emotionally gripping. For example, the scene where Odysseus is sowing salt so Agamemnon doesn't draft him off to war. Just seeing Odysseus rendered as a living person, with an expression on his face: thrilling, I was drawn in. It helps that the artist is very able to bring scenes to life, and makes everyone look real, with singular physical characteristics; and while there's an individual personality for each character, there is also a shared personality which exists throughout the line (I suppose one could call that culture if one wanted, or expressive of 'the arranger', the term Joyceans use for the unifying narrative principles of "Ulysses").

When you think about it, these people (Achilles etc) are kind of the earliest recorded (outside of Lascaux, I mean) superheroes; where better to locate them and their dramas than in a comic book? Very well proportioned to the medium; I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

I read Dan Simmon's two-book series Olympos and Ilium, which were grand space operas by a former Nebula/Hugo winner. The entire Greek and Trojan cast comes to life. Good fun, and I'd recommend it for a buff like you.
That's funny, a friend just recommended 'Ilium' to me two days ago, when I mentioned this graphic novel to him. I'll add it to my 'get-around-to' list.
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