My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Gareth Hinds’ adaptation of The Odyssey into graphic novel form is a stunning achievement. I grew up on these stories (seriously, I love a good bit of derring-do) and I admire his work here. Adapting The Odyssey can’t be easy. He does well in selecting ‘highlights’ and creating a continuous narrative that drives itself steadily throughout the book. The only areas where it faltered a little for me were at the start as we had a lot of exposition to get through.
However, if you persevere through these opening chapters, you’re rewarded with a richly coloured tapestry of stories. I love the colour palette that Hind’s chosen to work with; warm, sun-bleached colours of blues and greens and yellows. It’s intensely Mediterranean and also very classical.
I think if this book struggles anywhere it’s in the use of lettering . Speech and captions throughout tend to default to a sort of left-justified Times New Roman esque font. You can see an example of it in the image below. What’s particularly galling is that this page also possesses one of the most stunning panels in the entire book. The speech bubble where the Bard recounts the fall of Troy is superb. Utterly utterly superb.
This use of lettering remains steady regardless of the shape of the speech bubbles or the interaction throughout the scene. So we regularly see lovely, fluid, interlocking speech bubbles in a conversation (as above) but then they’re filled with this kind of rigorously standardized font which can’t help but feel disjointed. Lettering everything in this manner also doesn’t help to distinguish characters or captions – it borders on being typographical white noise. It’s a shame as well because there are points where the lettering (sound effects etc) is superbly done and shows what this book is capable of.
It’s a shame that the lettering doesn’t match the quality of the artwork. Some of Hinds’ strongest panels are wordless and some moved me to tears. The visual storytelling on display here is, at points, outstanding. The below image for example silently tells us that these characters are connected, despite distance and divide, they remain irrevocably connected. It’s brilliant.