Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
I'll begin by saying, this is my first graphic novel I've ever read. So it's kind of a big deal.
Yes, I've tried to pick up a comic book or manga to see what the hype was all about. I even own a few manga that I don't read -- they're more for memorabilia's sake of an anime. However I could never get over a few facts: first, I've openly admitted to being OCD. The fact that the boxes in comics aren't the same sizes, and I'm not always sure which box to read next -- has always bothered me. Second, the art style of jagged sharp lines has never appealed to me. Honestly comics would always give me headaches when I'd attempt to read them. Third, I'd think, why let an artist depict the world and characters that I'm reading, when I prefer to do that in my own head? I'm definite that I don't have to elaborate on how many times a movie-book has been released, that didn't quite fulfill the readers' imaginations.
These have been my reasons. And now, I've come across a graphic novel that has eradicated all of my previous beliefs and assumptions.
Here's the difference. For one, Lore Olympus is a vertical graphic novel. Sure, now and then it splits between frames like a typical comic, but usually it's pretty easy to follow. And yes, I'm sure if it were ever in print instead of online -- that would change. But for now, the OCD has been catered to. Also, the artistry is completely different from any comic I've seen. The colors alone are brilliant. The author, Smythe, has commented on how she uses specific colors for certain characters. For example, in a Q&A with Smythe, she eludes to the allurement of a bright pink Persephone in a dark Underworld, and likewise with a blue Hades in Olympus.
The characters intentionally pop out in their environments, and also -- it helps us readers keep track of all the different gods and goddesses, with their unique color schemes.
Because let's be honest, how many of us were lost reading Game of Thrones, with it's vast amount of characters.
And the artistry brings me around to my main argument. Why could it be better to allow an author to control the visual of a world and it's characters? Sure, every author includes adjectives and descriptions of the environment and persons. But I've always argued that a world imagined by the reader will always be more personal and valuable, than one simply given to them. Again, how many book-movies have disappointed thousands of fans because it didn't look the way they had imagined.
Allow me to rabbit-trail for just a moment, because this is one of my favorite love-hate topics. Examples include:
The Twilight Series (just to reiterate, I am a HUGE twihard).
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
The Time Traveler's Wife
And I'm sure I could include more. To be honest, I spend much more time reading than watching movies. But to get back on topic -- this particular graphic novel has every reason to be illustrated, instead of imagined. Because a huge part of the Olympic gods and goddesses' essence is their appearance, allure and grandeur. This is why historically, mortals would cower and obey them, because of their awe of presence. Men would instantly fall in love with Aphrodite because of her beauty. Hades struck fear in the hearts of humans. Persephone's quintessence is that of spring. Honestly, a god or goddess is just incomplete without a clear and awe-inspiring sense of grandeur. And this epiphany is why I have come to accept graphic novels.
Now, let's get to the fun part -- breaking down Lore Olympus.
The author, Rachel Smythe hasn't completed the series. Or if she has, she hasn't released it entirely on the app that I've been using, WebToon. But I can give you a glimpse into what I've gathered so far.
Lore Olympus is a romantic, chic flick style graphic novel. Traditionally I'd say it appeals to the female audience (yes, I'm aware we all choose our genders nowadays). Smythe takes a modern twist on historical deities, and personally I'm loving the vibe. The characters still attain their historical grandeur, but the personalities are instantly relatable. We follow Persephone and Hades' love story, drawn out slowly (like all good ones), while exploring the worlds they live in with them. Yes, one could say it's a cheap, overused dime store romance. A young inexperienced girl falls in love with a much older man, and bam! Sex, love, etc ensues. Well here's my two cents into why I think it works, aka why it's not so creepy. To be honest, if this were Hugh Hefner and his playboy bunnies -- yeah, that's kind of disturbing. However some of the bonus perks of being a god is that Hades does not physically age. This rule could also be applied for a certain vampire love story we all know and love.
Also, Hades is a very relatable character. He's got his insecurities, pressures of family and societal expectations, and a bit of an identity crisis.
All in all, we're playing the rules of Olympia, so you know -- when in Rome.
And we see while Persephone is young, even naive and sheltered, she's still had her own battles to fight; specifically, her mother. Demeter reaches a whole new level in helicopter parenting, according to Smythe. The goddess locks Persephone in a greenhouse, pressures her into joining a virgin maidenhood and alienates her daughter from all internet and technology.