Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships, Volume 1
For years as a high school librarian, I refused to acquire any "graphic" novels. However, I now have a small number of them. And I finally relented largely because of Eric Shanower's superb "graphic" rendition of Homer's Iliad, Age Of Bronze: A Thousand Ships ( followed by vol. 2: Sacrifice & vol. 3: Betrayal). It is obvious the author had researched his subject and cares about faithfully representing Homer's original epic.
Be apprised, this is no comic book or children's sanitized abridgment or substitute. How many comic books have maps, an afterword, glossary, genealogical chart, and bibliography? Even Archaeology Magazine praised the historical authenticity of the art work. YA attractions such as battle action, heroism, romance and adventure aside, the Iliad with its human themes were not meant for kids -- there is some visual sexuality but nothing inappropriate or explicit. The grownup content and tone of the Age of Bronze do remind us of Homer's influence on serious literature (also see aBookandaHug review of the "graphic" Odyssey).
The author makes a concerted effort to maintain the story's integrity, round out the characters, and effectively communicate the epic's themes with both articulate text and mature, lively, and artistically captivating illustrations. No stiff, cardboard cutouts here. As both author and illustrator, Eric Shanower no doubt had a vision in mind when he began the project. Unlike, in some instances, when author and illustrator are different people, here both words and illustrations unify and reinforce each other. Although I understand there are monetary and artistic considerations, I and YA readers do regret the illustrations not being in color.
Pertaining to graphic novels in a school library, the librarian should think through what is the rationale and desired objective or goal? Just to increase traffic and circulation? How about to stimulate and encourage the reader to progress to the original or non-graphic edition. The graphic version should never be a substitute for the reading experience of the "text" classic! I do try to limit my graphic novels to the critically acclaimed and award winners like the The Bronze Age (Eisner Award). Also, I choose to place my "graphic" books along side their "text" edition in the fiction, 800s, or according to content instead of everything in 741.5.
Yes, like most men, I have dreamed of Helen and imagined the face that launched a thousand ships. And yes, this graphic rendition of Western Civilization's seminal story does prove a picture can be worth a thousand words! 223 pages. All three volumes are recommended. Recommended by Robert L. Hicks, Librarian.