BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Publisher Profile: Campfire Graphic Novels

World mythology is a rich resource for comic book and graphic novel creators. Characters as varied as Marvel's Thor, Hellboy from Dark Horse, Image Comic's Age of Bronze, and Wildstorm's Promethea -- to name just a few -- draw on the spiritual, mythological, magical and occult traditions of the world.

The newest publisher to join their ranks is Campfire Graphic Novels. Inspired by the age-old image of family and friends gathered around a fire to share tales of adventure, danger and virtue, Campfire has launched four distinct lines of graphic novels: Classics (adaptations of great novels and plays), Mythology (to date, Greek and Hindu stories), Biography (inspiring leaders, scientists, authors, and philosophers of the past), and Original (new stories).

While all of these lines may be of interest to Pagans (such as the adaptation of Shakespeare's Tempest and the original story The Treasured Thief), the focus here will be on the Mythology line. Campfire's focus so far has been on Greek and Hindu mythology -- which is terrific, considering how difficult it can be to find anything on Hindu mythology outside of a university library or a very well-stocked bookstore. And sequential art adaptations of Hindu tales? While the Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Picture Stories) line was immensely popular in India, I have never been able to find any copies stateside. And Virgin Comics' India Authentic line of 2006 was ... um ... let's just say the art and storytelling were subpar, and leave it at that. 

So, I was very excited when I first found the listing for Campfire's Hindu books. So far, the publisher has released Ravana: Roar of the Demon King, Sita: Daughter of the Earth, and The Offering: The Story of Ekalavya and Dronacharya. Krishna: Defender of Dharma is due in September, with Draupadi: The Fire-Born Princess to follow in October 2012. The artwork in each is stunning (check out the scenes in which Sita performs puja for the goddess Bhudevi). The stories are tightly-crafted and reverent in tone; there is none of that "isn't this a funny old tale that primitive people used to believe?" undertone in Campfire's productions. These are the kinds of graphic novels you leave piled around the living room or on the kids' nightstands so that they can be picked up at any time and enjoyed.

The tales related in Campfire's Greek mythology adaptations will no doubt be slightly more familiar to a Western audience -- especially a Pagan audience -- than the Hindu stories. They do have an interesting and welcome twist to them, though. Each of the Greek books is framed by a sequence set in an ancient city in which the woman philosopher/teacher Demiarties uses a myth to instruct her male and female students on the importance of honor, integrity and bravery. So far, she has drawn upon Jason and the Argonauts, Heracles (Legend), Perseus (Destiny's Call), and Eros and Psyche (Stolen Hearts). Zeus and the Rise of the Olympians is set for release in August, and you can preview some of the art on Campfire's homepage; it is really quite drool-worthy.

Campfire's Mythology line is a welcome addition to the ranks of comics and graphic novels inspired by world mythology. I will be keeping an eager eye out for future books. If they are taking suggestions ... ahem ... Theseus and Ariadne, the life of Mirabai, the life of Hypatia of Alexandria, anything involving Ganesh, anything with Hermes, Atalanta, Bellerophon, The Muses ... um, yeah, okay, I'll stop there.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.

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