Several months ago, I wrote a blog post discussing the ubiquitous references to Norse mythology in modern day pop culture, but Scandinavian folklore certainly does not have the market cornered. The wise King Solomon once said, “There is nothing new under the sun,” and it certainly seems that way sometimes in media and entertainment. Tired rom-com plot lines are trotted out every year—sometimes with the same dialogue—and Adam Sandler doesn’t seem to be able to create an original story to save his life. However, Greek myths have a life all their own, and when incorporated correctly, they appeal to an ancient tradition that really enhances the story.
In comics, as with most entertainment, there are two ways to incorporate myths: either the artist can harken directly back to Greek stories by incorporating members of the pantheon directly into the cast of characters. Examples of this are Hades from the Lady Pendragon comics, various appearances of Artemis and Aphrodite in all manner of comics, or even Hercules as a member of the Marvel Avengers team. Alternatively, comic creators can sneakily refer to Greek myths or just steal inspiration without giving direct credit. A good example is in Aquaman, the not-quite-Poseidon character about whom Marvel is in the process of creating a movie.
Jason Momoa as Aquaman in the upcoming film.
I lived a very sheltered childhood, and so books have been the staple influence in my life. My mom read to me when I was very small (we started the Little House on the Prairie series with her reading to me, and ended them with me reading to her). I was off and running into the wild world of books that ended up taking me all over the world and beyond it. Some of the authors and books that have influenced me (and this is only a partial list) are below.
- As a girl, I was obsessed with horses, and thoroughly enjoyed Marguerite Henry’s White Stallion of Lipizza and of course, Misty of Chincoteague, as well as Cinnabar, the One O’clock Fox (although this one was more about the fox than the horses). I preferred the less well-known books. White Stallion of Lipizza had me sitting backward on kitchen chairs for months, because that was how the Lipizzaner trainers would stretch the inside of their thighs to fit over the extra wide barrel of those gorgeous horses.
- The Colored Fairy Books were another huge influence on me. Andrew Lang took me all over the world, from the snowy, troll infested forests of Germany to the oyster beds off the coast of Polynesia. I can’t wait to introduce my nephews to this series.
- C.S. Lewis was a huge influence on me very early on in my life. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so early that I cannot remember reading it for the first time. I lost count of my rereads at number nineteen. I also read and enjoyed the space trilogy. Perelandra was a beautiful picture of an idyllic world that made me ache for a place I had never been. That Hideous Strength was a book that I read long before I was ready. It was terrifying, but beautifully written. Till We Have Faces was amazing and profound.
- I was also really interested in all of the classic authors; Dickens, Austen, and the Bronte sisters were high on my list. Unfortunately, thanks to the Great Illustrated Classics, abridged books for children, many of these books were ruined for me. I couldn’t even get through David Copperfield until I was in my late teens. That abridged series taught me to loathe spoilers. I guess the children’s versions had some influence on me as well as the original versions.
- I continued to read books that I could technically comprehend, but was not old enough to properly digest. I read Jane Eyre when I was fourteen, and I was not particularly impressed. I felt that Charlotte Bronte got lost on her way to the conclusion. On the other hand, after I read Wuthering Heights, I wandered around the house in a funk for a couple of days.
- One of the greatest influences on my life was a series called The Young Underground, by Robert Elmer. These books were about a young brother and sister, Peter and Elise Anderson, who smuggle underground newspapers, and later humans, in Nazi occupied Denmark. These books influenced me, not because of their content, but because my mom used to read them to my siblings and me to keep us close as a family after she had to go back to work.
This can only be a partial list (it’s not even CLOSE to a full one), because there were so very many books that influenced me growing up. I am happy to say that I continue to find books that change the way I see the world, so the list continues to grow. -t