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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Friday, March 7, 2014

(MMGM) George O'Connor, author of Aphrodite: Goddess of Love {Review & interview}

I'm thrilled to have George O'Connor stopping by the March MG Madness to talk about the latest edition to his Olympians graphic novel series! Check out our interview and my review below...

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love 
(Olympians #6)
by George O'Connor
First Second 

In volume six of Olympians, graphic novel author/artist George O'Connor turns the spotlight on Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Look for the same thoroughly researched and wonderfully accessible comics storytelling as O'Connor tackles the story of the Aphrodite from her dramatic birth (emerging from sea-foam) to her role in the Trojan War.

O'Connor has outdone himself with this volume: the story is riveting and the artwork is beyond compare. Greek mythology has never been so vivid!

I’m a huge Greek mythology fan, so I was super stoked to dive into George O’Connor’s Olympians- Aphrodite: Goddess of Love, and found myself completely engrossed by O’Connor’s talent and storytelling.

This is the sixth volume in O’Connor’s Olympians graphic novels series, and he explores the enchanting Goddess of Love. From her dramatic sea birth to her part in the Trojan War, O’Connor vividly and expertly brings Aphrodite’s story to life. Readers familiar with this goddess will appreciate the stellar research O’Connor has done, and readers being introduced to her for the first time will learn a great deal.

I’ll admit, Aphrodite has never been my favorite Olympian, but O’Connor has made me view her in a whole new light and with a greater appreciation. Her amazing and captivating life is presented with impressively researched material and in a way that is immensely entertaining and engaging. And the graphics are excellent! Bold, bright colors, strong lines, and wonderful details cover each page. I love how each character is so expressive and given such visual personality. Young readers will be enthralled by Aphrodite’s story, but will also learn a lot. And have fun doing so!

Olympians- Aphrodite: Goddess of Love, and the other Olympians graphic novels, are excellent books to get young readers excited about mythology. And with awesome storytelling and engrossing graphics, even those people not interested in mythology are sure to be entertained!

What three words best describe your graphic novel, Aphrodite: Goddess of Love?
 Misunderstood goddess, understood.
Grab a copy of Aphrodite: Goddess of Love and answer the following:
favorite page/illustration to create? 

My favorite illustration to create was probably the full page illustration where we first meet Aphrodite, immediately after her self-generated birth from the sea foam. It’s a big, beautiful picture, she looks so happy and gorgeous. Really this whole book was a blast to draw. Nothing but pretty ladies!

hardest scene to depict?

I’m tempted to say drawing Aphrodite’s birth from the sea, and because this is an all-ages book I couldn’t show any naughty bits, but really, that was easy to get around. The hardest scene to depict was the whole Judgment of Paris sequence, a beauty contest between the three most powerful goddesses of Olympus—Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. It’s pretty sexist to assume that these three would even care about a competition to see who’s the prettiest. It wasn’t until I realized that the whole thing was really a power struggle, engineered by Zeus, that that scene made sense to me.

favorite Aphrodite centric story depicted?

I was really glad that I was able to include the story of Pygmalion in this book, the story of a sculptor who falls in love with his own statue and prays to Aphrodite to bring the statue to life. It’s a very versatile story that has inspired everything from Frankenstein to the Mannequin movies, and I was glad to be able to contribute my own take.

While researching for this graphic novel, what is your favorite thing or story about Aphrodite you learned? What, to you, sets Aphrodite apart from the other Olympians?

Aphrodite is unique among the Olympians in that she married into the family. The Greek pantheon is a big rambunctious family, as dysfunctional as any grouping of related individuals, except that these individuals are nigh-omnipotent shape-changing lunatics. And poor Aphrodite, mere moments after becoming self aware, was married into this family. She has a unique and interesting status as the outsider amongst the gods as a result. She also retains a flavor of the exotic amongst the Greek gods, due to her Eastern origins, and I reflected that in her appearances by giving her a darker complexion. I wanted her lo look like she came from India, maybe, or Persia.

As someone who writes and illustrates stories for the middle-grade crowd, why do you think middle-grade is so important? What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade?
 I think middle grade is so important because that’s the age I feel we really first start coming into ourselves, where we start forming the personalities that we will be wearing for the rest of our lives. A lot of our likes and dislikes forma at this period, too—this is when I was first introduced to comics and mythology, and man, look at me now. Basically, I’m a 40 year old fourth grader in many ways. I connect with the middle grade audience the most effortlessly because, at heart, I’m one of them.

What is your all time favorite middle-grade book, middle-grade hero, and middle-grade heroine?
Does the His Dark Materials Trilogy count as Middle grade or is that too old? If it counts, Lyra Silvertongue is my favorite heroine, Will Parry is my favorite hero, and that whole series is my favorite book. If not, then let’s go with Harriet the spy as favorite heroine, Taran Wanderer as favorite hero, and Coraline as favorite book.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at _napping__.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that every time I enter into a new location, I immediately appraise the situation for how I’d survive an immediate zombie outbreak. Invariably, the plan I formulate is to lock myself in a closet and hope and pray that the zombies rot very quickly.

The last great book I read was Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron, all about the hacker son of the Brode and Monster of Frankenstein, and a secret society of monsters living beneath Manhattan. Very cool.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Aphrodite: Goddess of Love, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

The goddess Aphrodite is pretty much made up of nothing but sea foam and the power of love. I’d try to reflect that in my Aphrocentric cupcake. It would be a red velvet cake with little bits of those candy hearts you get at Valentines’ Day embedded in it, and the frosting would be a light, foamy aqua marine to reflect her sea-born origins. Unfortunately, I’m not a very skilled baker, so the cupcakes would probably come out all burned and gross tasting, at which point I’d pretend that was my intention all along and call them The Bitter Taste of Heartbreak Cupcakes.

 Thanks so much, George, for stopping by today!

George O'Connor is the author of several picture books, including the New York Times bestseller Kapow!, Kersplash, and Sally and the Some-thing. JOURNEY INTO MOHAWK COUNTRY was his first graphic novel, a long-held dream that weaves together his passion for history and ongoing research into Native American life. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Brenda said...

I'm with you on enjoying Greek Mythology Aeicha, now add in graphic novel even better!

Michael G-G said...

Aeicha, I love Greek mythology too! I have enjoyed all of George's earlier books; his illustrations are fantastic. He really brings the Greek pantheon to life.

Charlotte said...

I thought the book was lovely, but I'm not quite convinced by the cupcake-- aqua marine might be a tricky color to capture in appatazing frosting!

Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

I've been trying to find these books in my library but they are always checked out! Which I guess it s a good thing, lol.

Jillyn said...

Oooh. Being a Classics student, I love all things myth!

Orchid said...

While I've never really been a fan of Aphrodite, I'm now super curious to see how the author re-told her story.