So last week I’d started talking about the reincarnation upon reincarnation of myth and legend into modern sequential and narrative art- and got some pretty insightful comments on why it persists for millennia (it is said that Euripides adapted the legend of Medea himself in order to make it more relevant to his audience, when writing his tragedy, so it’s definitely not anything new) and will most likely persist well into the future.
On this second part, I’d like to talk about how one can do it, for comics or novels alike.
Sure, there is the easy part- dress them up in modern clothes, shut them up in a ‘special school’ and hey presto! Myth adapted (achievement unlocked).
In my opinion though that’s a very shallow way to do it. As mentioned in part 1, myth and legend allure and charm us so because they tap upon and play with our fears, our hopes and our aspirations. The plots that were born in myth and legend are visceral and applicable in modern day living without needing to regurgitate the entire cast of the original, or the exact circumstances or setting of the myth being adapted.
The movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” is a great example of myth adaptation in that it takes the setup of the Odyssey, and the various situations Odysseus encounters before finally reaching his destination and applies it to pre-war, rural south USA in the midst of the Great Depression’s impact.
Odysseus and his crew are only three convicts (one with the “capacity for abstract thought”- i.e. Ulysses, Odysseus). The trials and tribulations the original Odysseus encountered, are converted into a showcase of the issues and problems relevant to the setting the movie chooses to display and satirize (Sirens are turned into women that drug them and steal their stuff, the Cyclops is Big Dan that robs them as well, with the KKK as his sheep, and so on and so forth).
So what should we consider when going for a myth adaptation consciously?
I’d put the following in my checklist:
1. Make sure the myth’s main conflict is intact (e.g. struggle with mortality, quest for self awareness, revenge for personal tragedy, antagonism between father and son, etc)
2. Choose your setting independently
3. Use this setting’s and world’s rules to create a character able to have such conflict naturally
4. Allow the constellation of characters to be as many or as few as necessary, without feeling bound by the myth’s original cast.
5. Allow for the stakes to become very high, as befits a legend.
So what about you? Ever done such a thing? What else must one keep in mind for such adaptations?
Which myth or legend would you adapt for a webcomic?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Feb. 18, 2017
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Google+