An ancient tale lives again with this week’s release of The Iliad, a new graphic novel adaptation of the Homerian myth by cartoonist Gareth Hinds.
The Iliad is the result of two and a half years’ worth of work for Hinds as he translates Homer’s epic poem about the conflict between Achilles and King Agamemnon during the Trojan War into comic-book form. Hinds goes beyond simply creating a comic strip version of the classic tale; he also includes notes, maps and other tools to make the story more easily understandable to modern readers, creating what cartoonist and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang called “a Herculean effort worthy of the original.”
“The Iliad is centuries old, but there’s no question that its themes are still relevant today,” Hinds told THR. “What defines a hero? What is worth fighting for, and what is worth dying for? What makes people behave toward each other in ways that are mutually destructive? How much of human nature has changed since the days of the Ancient Greeks and Trojans? The Iliad asks us to consider these weighty questions and more, but many readers feel challenged by its complexity, its sophistication and its enormous cast of characters. With this adaptation I hope I’ve made it more accessible but retained the essence of the original.“
He continued, “I visit schools frequently to do presentations about my work and to teach workshops in creating comics. Usually I’m working with middle and high school students, but I speak at colleges and universities as well. It’s rewarding for me to meet my readers and hear their questions and comments, and I think meeting the author makes students feel a personal connection with the text, as well as giving them valuable insight into the creative process. Their teachers are telling them about the value of brainstorming, outlining, revision, analyzing a text for themes and key ideas, re-reading, making a schedule and sticking to it…things that students often don’t want to do, but when they hear it from a professional author, it sinks in a little more. Sometimes they ask really great questions, too, that make me think harder about things I might have taken for granted! Hopefully, when I leave, they’re excited to not only read graphic novels but create their own.”
The book, released Tuesday by Candlewick Press, follows Hinds’ previous critically acclaimed adaptations of Beowulf, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.
Ahead of the book’s release, Candlewick Press provided the exclusive preview below.