Greek myths are, as many readers know, hot this year, driven in part by the fact that Percy Jackson’s page-bound popularity has transferred to his on-screen adventures. Graphic novel creators have celebrated their love for the gods and goddesses in works such as Michael Townsend’s Amazing Greek Myths of Wonders and Blunders (published by Dial) and George O’Connor’s The Olympians series (published by First Second). Joining those releases are two new works that retell Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, the account of Odysseus’ disastrous journey home from the Trojan War.
Both adaptations take Homer’s work seriously, highlighting the capricious nature of the gods, the frustrations of Odysseus and his crew, and the dangers of their voyage. Both works also feature fantastic art, drawings which suck readers into the story and use the comic medium’s unique blend of words and art to the best of their abilities. That said, both works also assume a basic knowledge of who Odysseus is, what the Trojan War was, and who the Greek gods are. Without that the tales are still interesting, but not as easy to follow.
Hinds’ adaptation takes the more direct route, starting where Homer’s poem started and moving straight through without cutting out elements, other than when he substitutes action drawings for words. This can lead to confusion for new readers who might wonder why Odysseus doesn’t show up until about fifty pages into his own story, but, as with the original work, it does allow the elements of the story to come together smoothly in the end with Odysseus’ son Telemachus bookending the tale. Because Hinds chose to make his story as close an adaptation as possible, even down to researching various translations of the work, his graphic novel is a good companion to a classroom or book club study of the original poem, though Hinds does not have his characters speak in poetic form. Candlewick has an online teacher’s guide to assist with classroom use of Hinds’ adaptation.