It can only be described as binge reading. In one afternoon, I read through the seven books that I had my hands on in George O’Connor’s Olympians graphic novel series. I’m one short, with Apollo having come out in January, yet it’s not in our collection yet (oh, it will be). The next one scheduled is for 2017.
In order, the series showcases thus far
- Zeus: King of the Gods (2010)
- Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess (2010)
- Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory (2011)
- Hades: Lord of the Dead (2012)
- Poseidon: Earth Shaker (2013)
- Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (2014)
- Ares: Bringer of War (2015)
But, because O’Connor is dynamic, the books focus on the central figure while introducing readers to others, both god and mortal along with the world in which they inhabit or fight for. The stories are concise and focused with beautiful images, simple text, and a story arch. But as an adult reader and high school librarian, I find the additional information after the story to rival the actual graphic novel. There are profiles of some of the main characters that could literally be posters hung on a wall (hint, hint :01 First Second). Then there are “Geek notes” that add the R above “geek” for a dash of humor, additional resources, discussion questions, and if that wasn’t enough, an author note which allows a glimpse into O’Connor’s world: his favorite gods and goddesses, the writing and illustrating process, and embarking on this monumental task. It’s a lesson in passion and perseverance. He serves the middle grade/YA reader along with the librarians and teachers who could use his content. As a package, it shows his mission is not to simply tell a good story, but to serve a larger purpose and that’s to educate kids about these mythical people and creatures with respect and research.
Memorable character: Without having read Apollo yet, the most memorable character was Persephone, highlighted in Hades’ story. Her transformation is like any teenager who fights with her mother and tries on many identities until she comes into her own. Having been whisked away by dark horses to the underworld, her reluctance is turned into acceptance as she creates an image and a name for herself (literally as her name was Kore until she named herself Persephone) as Hades’s wife. I’m also a fan of Demeter’s story in mythology anyway, so knowing that the focus of Hades’ story is almost about everyone else except him demonstrates that most do not know Hades because he chooses to remain elusive. He seems to prefer to be misunderstood.
Memorable scene: Like the Robert Frost poem in which “two roads diverged in a yellow wood”, Heracles had a decision to make, take the harder and more dangerous path with a woman waiting cloaked in darkness or the easier one with a beautiful woman standing bathed in sunlight. Heracles chose the darker path, on a road to become a god, but having to complete twelve labors before coming close enough. The language and imagery was among my most memorable thus far.
Memorable quote: In Aphrodite’s story, she brings to life Pygmalion’s statue named Galatea whom he created in Aphrodite’s likeness but who fell in love with his ivory statue and instead of offering it to her at her temple, asked that she may live. And Aphrodite willed it and attended his wedding to Galatea where she was cloaked. When he stopped at her feet with his new wife, Galatea felt compelled to thank her and her reply was “There is nothing to thank me for. Love like your husband has is love that must be shared. Be happy together. You were made for each other.” Oh how true that was!
I advise that everyone include this series on their shelves, whether it’s in mythology or graphic novels. It should make a rotation on end caps, in booklists, and book trailers. I’m glad I came to the party a bit late on these ones as I don’t think I could have waited each year for a new one to come out (like I’ll have to for the last ones in the series), but good things come to those who wait.