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Carina's Comic Corner: Mythology and Folklore

After a brief posting hiatus, the Comic Corner is back, this time with an assortment of stories with mythical origins. Comics serve as a solid medium for bringing diverse and legendary stories to the masses, and for many readers, it may be there first time being exposed to some cultural stories. The following titles all fall into the category of myth but come from very different backgrounds and heritages. Read on for an assortment of tales to transport you to mythological realms!

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe (Webtoon)

Greek mythology has always been the darling favorite when it comes to media representations of mythology, and one title that has been having a huge moment the past few years is Rachel Smythe's Lore Olympus. Originally published on Webtoon, the series is a modern retelling of The Abduction of Persephone, perhaps one of the most-oft used Greek myths in the canon. In Smythe's version, though, the relationship between Hades and Persephone is a romance, full of robust real-world issues alongside the mythology. Striking illustrations, bright colors, and stunning backdrops give life to the gritty narrative Smythe has constructed for her cast. Lore Olympus is one of Webtoon's most successful titles with over a billion reads across all chapters (that's right--billion, with a "b"), and it's won a Hugo Award, an Eisner Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award. No wonder it's also won the hearts of readers everywhere, too!

Read Lore Olympus for free on Webtoon or purchase physical copies from the Lore Olympus website.

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen (Penguin Random House)

One of my personal favorite middle grade picks, The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen is a semi-autobiographical tale that draws from folklore as we follow Tien, the son of Vietnamese immigrants who is struggling with his identity. Tien is exposed to three separate folktales during the novel: Tattercoats from England, Tan Cam from Vietnam, and The Little Mermaid from Denmark. Pulling from the varied cultural perspectives highlights Tien's confusion about his culture and sexuality. Paired with some very tender, heart-wrenching scenes with his mother Helen, who uses the stories to connect with her withdrawn child, The Magic Fish is a story of family that at its core is very simple, but when coupled with the rich background of fabled tales, becomes wildly nuanced. We so often are exposed solely to Western iterations of mythology, so to see a Vietnamese folktale retold on the page will open young readers up to a whole new avenue of world literature.

Purchase The Magic Fish here.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (Dark Horse Books)

This graphic novel is unique in that it's an adaptation of an adaptation--Norse Mythology was first published by Neil Gaiman as a novel based on Norse tales in 2017, but it was then adapted by Gaiman and Russell into a comic book a few years later. The comic, like the novel before it, follows the creation of the Nine Worlds and the lives of Thor, Odin, and Loki all the way through their ascent to Ragnarok. The comic version of Norse Mythology draws from a very traditional style of comic illustration, further enhancing the classic, timeless nature of the subject matter. Chronicling dozens of fabled stories straight from the Norse canon, Gaiman and Russell lay the foundation for a story that even novices of Norse myth could get into. Educational and entertaining, Norse Mythology stays true to the tales it is inspired by and lets the reader fall head first into the story.

Purchase The Complete Norse Mythology here, or start out with Volume One.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Image Comics)

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's The Wicked + The Divine is a personal favorite of mine, but it also is one of the most diverse representations of mythology in comics to date. The comic follows Laura, a teenager who is fascinated by a dozen reincarnated gods known as the Pantheon. The gods come through during an event called the Recurrence, which happens every ninety years, and it's suspected that Laura may be the thirteenth member the crew is looking for. While we see some of the more common deities here, like Greek, Norse, and Roman gods, we're also exposed to characters derived of Egyptian, Japanese, Mesopotamian, and Irish myths. Even more interestingly, the creators model each member of the Pantheon after an influential figure from music, giving The Wicked + The Divine a distinct edge in its illustration. This comic is most certainly adults-only, but definitely worth getting your hands on.

Purchase The Wicked + The Divine here, or read the first issue for free on Image Comics' website.

Looking for reviews on upcoming releases? Maybe commentary on a specific title? Just want to find something new to read? Stay tuned for biweekly themed posts, standalone reviews of new titles before they’re published, and more!

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