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Friday, December 20, 2013

New George O'Connor Graphic Novel! Aphrodite!

O'Connor, George (2014) Aphrodite: Goddess of Love.  New York: First Second.

There are some books that you are delighted to find when you stumble into them.  There are some books (usually by certain authors) that, when you see them, you grab them without even checking the back of the book for the story because you know this is going to be good. 

And then there are books you actively wait for. 

For me, that would be pretty much anything George O'Connor does -- and especially each new installment in his Olympians series.

And here is why:  George O'Connor does thorough research (in this book, his author's note identifies the source for a six-panel sequence at the back of the book in which Eros is stung by a bee and is convinced he is dying as a lyric poem called The Anacreontea -- which I have never even heard of).  And yet, O'Connor doesn't let the research usurp the story.  He does the research to find the pathways the story can move through, then selects the best story he can come up with.  In this case, we follow Aphrodite from her arrival on the shore of the sea, through Zeus's hasty marriage of her to Hephaistos, and then to the story of the golden apple, which seems to be leading up the Trojan War (I am guessing the next book will be Ares).  And without taking anything away from Rick Riordan, O'Connor doesn't need to update the old stories to give them extra zip -- instead he just tells the stories so well that they will absolutely grab you. 

And the art!  It is clear and dramatic and emotional and intellectual and absolutely right.  Before I read O'Connor, I thought of Zeus as having a big red beard (that's how Marvel Comics shows him).  O'Connor reasons that, since Zeus is a shapeshifter, he would pick a form more suited to wooing -- and his confident but dashing depiction seems perfect.  I like Hephaistos's boxy but earnest appearance and although I think a beardless eight inch mustache would look ridiculous on anybody who doesn't live in the water, it is perfect on Poseidon.  And O'Connor knows how to use panels to tell the story.  They are never cluttered but always detailed and I find with each reading I spot more than I did before. And O'Connor is able to draw people standing around in a way that seems filled with action (and when there really is action, the story sours).

Finally, somehow O'Connor is able to write an entire book about the goddess of love and neither shy away from the nature of her powers and interests, nor draw anything objectionable.  . 

I managed to wrangle and early copy and so I am not exactly sure when this book hits bookstore and library shelves, but you should pre-order or get in line or whatever you have to do because this is a great graphic novel.

Now I have to wait for the next one.  Sigh.

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