Friday, June 25, 2010

Come see me draw at Greenlight Bookstore!

As part of the ongoing Fulton Fab Fest in Brooklyn, this Sunday, June 27th, I'll be hanging out around my friendly neighborhood bookstore Greenlight in Fort Greene Brooklyn, making chalk sidewalk drawings (which may or may not look like my crude Photoshop approximation below), signing books, beating all challengers in thumb-wrestling, and just generally hanging out from about 12 noon onward. If you're going to be in Brooklyn anyway, why not come on by to one of my favorite booksellers and get a signed copy of Olympians or 20?

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: The Gloomy Lord and Dread Queen of Hades

Today's Sketchbook Sneak Peek is a profile of Hades himself, and a portrait of Demeter's daughter Kore, after her transformation into Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. Hope you all likey.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mini-Interview: Fan Jessica Lee asks me some questions about Olympians

Way back in May, I received a very well-thought out letter from a young lady named Jessica Lee which asked me a slew of questions about Olympians. As you will see, she invited me to publish it here on this blog, and after what I deemed to be a suitably long period of where she had the exclusive answers, I did just that. Enjoy!

First, why is Hades's book going to be "The Wealthy One"? When I think Hades, I think "Lord of the Underworld", "King of the Damned", other overly-cliche titles like those. Hades is the God of Wealth, but it's just not the first thing that comes to mind. Think of it this way, if someone who knows NOTHING at all about Greek mythology picks up the Hades book, they might think that it's about some immortalized form of Midas or Scrooge.

Also, this is just my opinion, but I think that "Lord of the Underworld" sounds so much cooler than "The Wealthy One."

ooh, I better not show this to my editor. He's been wanting me to call Hades' book "Lord of the Underworld" for the longest time now. You know Hades is the god of wealth, so you probably also know that "the wealthy one" is a translation of his other name, Pluto. While he wasn't an evil god, the ancients felt it was probably a bad idea to attract the attention of the Lord of the Dead so they created euphemistic nicknames for him, like Pluto. His aspect of wealth is going to be a major component of my telling of his story, but you may be right, I may have to change the title. We've been fighting over the title for Hera's book for months now.(note: At this time, we've settled on Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory)

And I have a question about Hestia. In the book, she's this vaguely humanoid form that's lit on fire...Are you going to include the myth about Poseidon and Apollo fighting for her hand? If you are, then how's that going to work out?

I will be including Poseidon and Apollo's pursuit of Hestia in the final book, number twelve, which she will share with Dionysos. Since you know the story, you also know there's not much written about it-- it's just a mention or two. I will tell it almost as an aside as I explore the character of Hestia. As for how it will work, well, gods are a weird sort who take all sorts of strange forms for their pursuits of one another. Fire can still be very beautiful, after all, and Poseidon has been known to assume the form of a horse or bull for his trysts, so I don't think he'd mind.

Why does Persephone already look...Underworldian? She's still only the Goddess of Spring as of now.

As for Persephone, yes, she's just Kore ("young girl") right now. She's only made two appearances so far that I can think of, as a child both times (unless you count the cover of Hades). I think of her as a seed right now-- she has to go under ground first before she can blossom. I'm still working on her post-underworld Persephone incarnation's design. (Note: It's done now. If you all ask nicely, I may even post a sketch)

Oh, yes, before I forget - in the family tree in the front of the book, why does Dionysus have grapes beside his name? I know that it's because he's the God of Wine, but how come he's the only one who gets a picture?

The designer for the first book, Danica Novgorodoff, came up with the grapes. I had talked about in a meeting of how Dionysos is a bit different and removed from the other Olympians, what with his mortal half, and the outsider quality to his cult. I suggested that maybe he should be marked a little differently than the rest, and that's what she came up with. As the final Olympian, he will close out the series with a big finish.

Alright, I think I'm done with my questions. I'm really looking forward to the next book, about Hera. When I was a little kid, I used to hate her because she just seemed so mean, but now I quite like her. It's not her fault that Zeus has problems with commitment, but I wish that she wouldn't unleash her wrath on the wrong people. And I know that you're planning on making her hair in that little bun, but I personally like it better when you draw her hair down. My favorite pictures of her in your books are the second one last of her in Zeus, where she and Hestia are meeting with the Titanesses, and one of the first in Athena, when she and Demeter are walking by Zeus and Metis. She looks really nice in those panels.

Hera is my favorite goddess (Hermes is my favorite god), and it drives me nuts when people don't like her. I think she's very justified in behaving the way she does! Good attention on the bun-- it's actually a pretty important story element in her book. We even see that same scene you mentioned, of her and Demeter, thru Hera's viewpoint. Her bun is also meant to be evocative of a peacock's head, which is, of course, her sacred bird.

Are you going to include Cupid (Eros) and Psyche in Aphrodite's book? I really do like the story. And are you going to make Aphrodite the Greek Aphrodite, (flighty, flirty, never takes anything seriously) the Roman Aphrodite, (compassionate, actually cares about love) or a combination of both? It annoys me when people write Aphrodite v.1, but it is the "original" version of Aphrodite, so I can see why they write her like that.

I will be including Eros and Psyche in Aphrodite's book (#6), but probably not the whole story, as it's pretty long. I'm still working on that. My Aphrodite will be a combo of both versions you mentioned, as I'm telling both Greek and Roman stories about her in her book. She will definitely be treated with dignity however. In her own way, she can be dangerous to the established order as Ares is, but is also very compassionate at times as well. The gods are very capricious, wouldn't you agree?

Which book are Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Pandora going to be in?

Book 11, Hephaistos, will feature the stories of Pandora and the -metheus brothers.

And I must know - which book is the Trojan War going to be in? Are you going to talk about the Trojan War? I'm assuming that it's going in the last book of the series, but I'm also assuming that the last book is about Dionysus (too much assuming -.-), and Dionysus doesn't really tie in with the Trojan War very well.

The Trojan War will be covered in various books, but primarily in book 7, Ares. It will be my retelling of the Iliad, with a focus on the godly bits (Eric Shanower is doing a very nice version with his Age of Bronze series, but he leaves out all the gods!). You'll also be seeing some of it in book 5, Poseidon. You already know that you guessed correctly that Dionysos (and Hestia) will be closing out the series.

I've actually written my own book about Greek mythology, but it's not a graphic novel. I'm a perfectionist. Can you imagine how long it would take me to complete a single panel, let alone a whole book?

Please, please, please, hurry up with the next book!


P.S. My favorite gods/goddesses are Hades, Hera, Apollo, and Hermes.
P.P.S. You can publish this on your blog, except for the first paragraph :P

Left it out as per your request, Jessica! Looking forward to seeing your book.

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Demeter, in Hades: The Wealthy One

Book 4 of Olympians, Hades: The Wealthy One is a bit more like Zeus in its structure, in that it principally tells one big story (in this case, the abduction of Persephone) rather than a tapestry of interconnected tales, as in Athena.

It may be Hades who gets the title nod, but he really shares the starring role with both Persephone and her mother, Demeter. Of all three main characters, until this point in the series Demeter has gotten the most panel time, as it were, but only as a supporting or background character. As a result, I've spent a lot of time sketching the beautiful Goddess of Grain in a wide variety of moods and poses, as she really gets put through the emotional ringer in this book.

The first step when I'm writing a book is to fill up some sketchbooks with "key Scenes" that may or may not make it into the final version. Here are a few sketches of an enraged and distraught Demeter, including an action shot of her in her role as Demeter Khrysaor, or Demeter of the Golden Blade. Looks like she's pretty miffed at Zeus. I wonder why?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fan Art Forum! A Cyclopean Horde!

Recently I visited my good friends at PS 63 and the Neighborhood School in NYC. I shared some of my drawing secrets with the kids there and this is what they did:

Oh, gods! Run! It's a mob of Cyclopes! Electric Cyclopes, fanged Cyclopes, winged Cyclopes, horned Cyclopes, robo-Cyclopes, armored Cyclopes, Cyclopes with eye-beams, Cyclopes with hand grenades! RUN!

Oh, but wait! We have an army of Athenas to defend us! Sure, she's outnumbered, but she is a warrior goddess. I suppose we're in good hands. In fact, I feel pretty bad for that one lonely Cyclops sharing the page with all these Athenas. Good thing it has wings ;)

A special thanks to everyone at PS 63 and the Neighborhood School who drew a Cyclops or an Athena, and thanks for letting me post them up here. Special thanks to super-librarian Cheryl Wolf (and her assistants) for scanning these for me.

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Hades

For the past few weeks I've been hard at work on Olympians Book 4: Hades (tentatively subtitled The Wealthy One) so lately I've been logging a lot of sketchbook time trying to cement the look of the titular bad boy himself, Hades. I've drawn him before of course-- he plays a fairly prominent role in Zeus: King of the Gods, for instance-- but this is his first time stepping into a starring role, and as a result he has to look just right. Here are a few of my more recent, more successful depictions of the gloomy god of the Underworld.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cut off a head, two more take its place!

Another preview page from Olympians Book #3: Hera. Heracles learns a little something about the Hydra. This is not quite finished color, but its close enough that you should all get the idea.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Profile of a Fellow Mythophile: The Mysterious Man Known as Jakob Dailes

So if you've spent any amount of time poking around this blog's comments sections you've likely run across the name Jakob Dailes once or twice. Jakob has been one of this site staunchest supporters since it began. As I've gotten to know him, I've discovered he's also one of the most knowledgeable people I've encountered, online or off, on the subject of Greek mythology. In fact, Jakob runs a blog, The Classical Club with his own spotlights and ruminations on all things classical. Please check it out:

As you can see from the above picture, the illustrious Mr. Dailes is also quite the artist ( I especially dig his Sphinx, and what I assume to be his self portrait. We've never met in the flesh, so it's hard to be sure;) It was in this capacity, as an illustrator, that I asked him to contribute a piece to the Guest Artist Gallery of the Gods. However, when the time came, a mere Guest Artist Gallery spot didn't seem to properly convey the full scope of Jakob's zest for mythology. This wasn't just a guy who was rattling off a drawing of a character they half-remembered from grade school. THIS WAS HIS PASSION! When you've been a mythophile as long as I have, you can recognize the signs in another person. Hence, I decided to create the heretofore unseen new category, FELLOW MYTHOPHILE PROFILE. It even kind of rhymes!

Without further ado, here's the piece Jakob contributed:

Here's what the man sometimes known as Jakob Dailes has to say:
Here's my pic. It's of Eros and Psykhe.
Psykhe is definitely one of my favorite Greek mythological figures (next to Apollo and Perseus). The ancient Greeks weren't exactly feminists, so the rare female heroine is intriguing to me. Psykhe was ready to risk it all to either get Eros back or break his heart, and was determined not to be broken by Aphrodite. In a way, the scene of the Lamp is the climax of the story, since mostly everything afterward couldn't possibly happen if not for it.

Lucas Haight (turns out Jakob Dailes is a screen name! Trickster!) was born in Atlanta, Ga. but now resides in Panama City Beach, Florida. He is alleged to be a high school student, but as established already, he is tricksy and anything he says should be taken with a grain of salt of two. His hobbies include creating art, writing, reading, and laying around doing nothing (his words!). Whoever he is, he's currently working on a book called LEGENDARY: QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN FLEECE (if you wanna know more on that just send him an email at His Top Ten Myth figures are: Apollo, Athene, Perseus, Psykhe, Herakles, Theseus, Medousa, Poseidon, Dionysos, Aphrodite. You'll notice that he uses different spellings than I do for many of the characters that appear in Greek Myth, and one day, if I ever meet him in person, I will challenge him to a thumb wrestling competition to see whose spellings are better.

I'm ba-a-a-a-ack...

It's been awhile--over a month I see-- since I last posted. rest assured, it was for an excellent reason: i was putting the finishing touches on Olympians Book 3: Hera. It's my favorite one in the series so far, and I thought I'd share a peak of what's in store. From the wedding of Zeus and Hera:

I'm already hard at work on Olympians Book 4: Hades. Things are going well with that, with about half the book laid out already. Watch for sketches to appear soon.