cover image The Odyssey

The Odyssey

Homer, adapted by Seymour Chwast. Bloomsbury, $20 (128p) ISBN 978-1-60819-486-5

The latest in an unofficial series of graphic novels based on the classics (The Canterbury Tales; The Divine Comedy), veteran illustrator and graphic designer Chwast interprets the Greek epic in straightforward but whimsical line drawings that invest the familiar tale with droll energy. Plot and language are simplified, but this is a funny and engaging take on the story of Odysseus’s return from the siege at Troy. Our hero is cast as a Buck Rogers–like space traveler, bouncing from planet to planet (instead of island to island) in Deco-inspired rocket ships. Dynamic page layouts (no two spreads are alike) and helpful chapter headings and text labels help keep the story moving with the energy of a Saturday matinee serial directed by Michel Gondry. Chwast’s charming line drawings are deceptively simple. Scenery evokes the aerodynamic lines of the ‘20s and ’30s, while character designs emerge from the classical ideal of beauty. With its rich cast of characters and wealth of dramatic incident, it’s a wonder that The Odyssey hasn’t seen more visual interpretations; Chwast’s is enjoyable, if lightweight. Illustrations are printed in two colors; reviewed from a black-and-white galley. (Sept.)