Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention: Olive and the Underworld Vol. 2

Today we’re talking about a comic book Kickstarter project entitled Olive and the Underworld Vol. 2 Part 1.

This is the second book in a series about a girl named Olive.

Olive is an orphan and finds herself bouncing around foster homes due to her…unique views on life and death.

Naturally, her school and social life isn’t much better.

However, her self imposed hellscape is turned on its head when she and several of he classmates die in a bus crash and are sent to Purgatory.  While her classmates are desperate to move on to the afterlife, Olive discovers that she loves Purgatory.

The second volume picks up where the first book left off and follows Olive’s quest to stay in Purgatory, despite the powers that be insisting that it’s supposed to be temporary.

At the time of writing the project has reached $1,833 of its $2,995 goal and has fifteen days left in its campaign.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1058532910/olive-and-the-underworld-volume-2-part-1

Full disclosure: I actually wrote about the Kickstarter for the first volume of the series a few years ago.  I received no money for that article or this one, but the creators were unbelievably nice and decided to use a quote from my article on the front page of the book’s website and on the back of the first book’s cover.  Also, I got to read the first volume and I can assure you that it’s awesome and well worth your time and money.

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You can read the quote, and buy the first volume, here.

Why I like it.

I like this book for the same reason I liked the first book, it takes a very old and well established story and turns it on its head.

I’m a big fan of ancient history.  More specifically, I’m a big fan of ancient Greek and Norse mythology.

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Now, all three of these cultures may be from different locations, different time periods, and have different cultural norms but their mythologies have certain things in common.  For example, they all have a deity who presides over the after life.  The Norse have Hel,

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The Greeks have Hades.

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Now, this is to be expected.  Death is one of humanity’s universal constants and it would make sense for cultures to develop their own ideas of what happens after we die.  However, the similarities can get a bit spooky.  More specifically both cultures have stories about heroes to travel to the afterlife while they are still alive.

The Greeks have heroes such as Orpheus, who charmed Hades into returning the soul of his wife with his music.

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The Norse have Hermod, a son of Odin who traveled to Hel to beg for the life of Baldur after he had been killed by Loki.

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So Olive’s journey to the afterlife puts her in pretty unique and interesting company,

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but there is one major difference.  In every other story about travelling to the afterlife, the heroes come back.  The land of the dead is a place you’re supposed to be uncomfortable around and a place where you don’t want to stay.  Olive doesn’t just want to stay in Purgatory, she’s genuinely happy to be there.

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I can’ think of a single instance where the hero of a story wants to stay dead, so that makes Olive and the Underworld one of the most unique and interesting stories I’ve ever seen…and I love it.

Why you should donate

Because if our ancestors could create eternal stories about death and the afterlife, why can’t we?

Myths and legends aren’t just stories, they were a way to process emotions and events that human beings could have never understood otherwise.

Stories like the Illiad weren’t just stories about people fighting each other, they were peppered with morals and lessons on how to act and what is proper way to behave in certain situations.  Heroes like Achilles weren’t just bloodthirsty maniacs, they were scholars and noble warriors who embodied traits and emotions that the ancient Greeks thought were important.

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We may think we have grown out of our understanding of the world has progressed, but we still have fantastic beings who embody certain virtues and use their actions to demonstrate proper behavior.

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Myths and legends are still talk about important stuff, they’ve just changed their appearance and what’s important to adapt over the past several thousand years.

We’re in the process of creating a new mythology and Olive and the Underworld is a story that brings a new and different approach to how we view death to this new understanding.  It’s a fun, friendly, and important book and well worth your time and money.

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Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1058532910/olive-and-the-underworld-volume-2-part-1

Golden Age Showcase: Scarab

You know what’s awesome?  Ancient Egypt.

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As one of the world’s oldest civilizations Egypt has held a special place in the hearts of historians and pop culture geeks everywhere.  From the great Nile river,

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to the Pharaoh’s of old,

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to the priceless historical artifacts that have been…”liberated” from their homes and placed in museums around the world.

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Egypt has been a place that has captured the imaginations of generations.

It turns out that comic book creators have a healthy interest in ancient Egypt too.  A lot of superheroes are either from Egypt or use ancient Egyptian magic and imagery.

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Today we’re going to look at one of the earliest heroes from the Golden Age of comics who used ancient Egyptian magic, and another uncomfortable case of 1940’s casual racism and stereotypes.

Today we’re talking about the Scarab.

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Origin and Career:

The Scarab first appeared in Startling Comics #34 in July of 1945.  While the writer is unkown the artist was a man named Ken Battefield…who didn’t go on to do very much or become well known.

In the comic the Scarab was actually a well respected archaeologist named Peter Ward who was visiting his uncle in London for a vacation.

Comic Book Cover For Startling Comics #34

Suddenly, a wounded man stumbles onto his front step and tells Peter to find a scroll in the British Museum that links back to the ancient Egyptian cat god, making this one of the rare occasions where British imperialism was actually helpful.

Comic Book Cover For Startling Comics #34

Unfortunately, the men who stabbed the messenger are on Peter’s trail, looking for the fantastic treasure that is supposedly buried in the cat’s tomb.

Peter travels to Egypt, reinforcing every uncomfortable stereotype the West had about people from the Middle East.

Comic Book Cover For Startling Comics #34

and after being stranded in the desert he is fortunate enough to be aided by a mysterious cat who guides him to the tomb’s entrance.

Comic Book Cover For Startling Comics #34

In the tomb Peter finds a magic ring and POOF!, he’s instantly transformed into our hero.

Comic Book Cover For Startling Comics #34

The ring gives him a whole host of powers, including the ability to fly and enhanced durability.  This is fortunate because the men who were after him and the treasure catch up to him and try to kill him, only to be foiled by the Scarab.

Comic Book Cover For Startling Comics #34

This ring apparently gives Peter a soul as well, because he demands that the robbers put everything they stole back and refuses to take any of the treasure for himself.

The Scarab would go on to a fairly long stint as a back up character in another Standard Comics title Exciting Comics and spent the rest of his run solving various archaeology related crimes.  There is one particular instance where Ramon Royale, the man who Peter stopped in his first adventure, was employed by the German government in an attempt to destabilize Egypt and turn it against the United Nations.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #43

However, Peter was able to convince the Egyptians that siding with the Unite Nations was a good thing.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #43

The rest of his adventures would follow a pretty straight formula of the Scarab stopping some threat that was looking to steal archaeological treasure that didn’t belong to them.  This would continue into his last story which appeared in The Black Terror #20 in 1947 where he stopped a gang of four Arab thieves bent on robbing a grave for wealth.

In an interesting twist the Arabs were actually immortals who uncovered an immortality serum in a tomb they had discovered by accident.

Comic Book Cover For The Black Terror #20

The Scarab was able to identify a counter to the potion and the four Arabs killed themselves when they realized they were no longer immortal and were unable to fit in with the real world.

Comic Book Cover For The Black Terror #20

So what happened?

The man never got past back up story material and disappeared in 1947.  It makes sense considering that he just wasn’t that well written and superheroes were going out of style in post war America.

He would disappear off of pop culture radar for a while until Alan Moore picked up a lot of Standard’s superheroes for his Tom Strong series.

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The Scarab would be a bit player for most of Alan Moore’s story until a spin off series to Tom Strong called Terra Obscura.

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The Scarab actually played an important part in the story when he bonded with the ancient Egyptian god Thoth in order to stop the villain Mystico, who had bonded with the god Set and threatened to take over the world.

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The Scarab was an unimportant hero who had an uneventful career and did uneventful things.  Still, despite all the old timey racism and stereotyping, I kind of like him.  He wasn’t the first hero to gain his powers through the mysterious and ancient gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, but he embraced his gimmick with gusto and devoted his life to making sure that the artifacts and treasures of history were safe from thieves.

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Eh, close enough.

Crowd funded comics that deserve more attention #2: Devi and Modern Myths

Today, for our second post talking about crowdfunded comics that deserve more attention we are going to talk about a company that is bringing the massive, complex, and epic mythology of the Indian subcontinent to comic books and in order to help they have launched a Patreon campaign to bring one of their creations to life.

Link to the campaign: https://www.patreon.com/Devi?ty=h

What is it?

The company running the Patreon campaign is called Graphic India.  It is a new company dedicated to bringing the history and mythology of India into the mainstream.  To that end they are already well into production of a web series called “18 Days”, a retelling of the great epic the Mahabharata and it is written by none other than Grant Morrison (for those who don’t know Grant Morrison one of the best comic book writers alive today), you can find out about that here.

The Patreon campaign is for Graphic India’s second major undertaking, a weekly motion comic web series called Devi.  Written by film director Shekhar Kapur the story follows the adventures of Devi, a mystical avatar of the Hindu gods as she does battle with an evil demon named Lord Bala.  Devi is set in a futuristic Indian city called Sitapur and looks like this.

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Aside from looking like she can rip any opponent the shreds the story itself looks incredibly promising.  Sitapur is a futuristic Asian city filled with high buildings, low morals, and a blend of magic and technology that creates something new and different.  Also, the trailer is awesome.

Why I like it:

Besides looking amazing and promising a story with the kind of blood and violence I like Devi, and Graphic India’s other projects, is bringing new ideas and new traditions to comic books that make all kinds of excited.

A little bit of history, comic books are known for adapting and reworking existing mythologies and stories into the present day.  Greek and Roman mythology was especially popular in the early days of comic books and DC is known primarily for utilizing it for some of it’s biggest stars.

While Marvel turned to Norse mythology for its mythical heroes and created this guy.

It seems to me that Graphic India is looking to give Indian mythology the same treatment, and when you have stories of monkey kings

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Multi headed demons being defeated by mythical arrows.

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And humans of immense strength battling giants with fallen trees.

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You have the makings of an amazing comic book universe with plenty of amazing and epic stories.

Why you should donate:

Devi is currently being developed as a weekly motion comic series and they’re already six episodes in.  The Patreon campaign was launched to help with the cost of creating the videos and you can contribute on a per creation basis, meaning you pledge for each video produced.  So if you want to expand your horizons with an epic story, awesome characters, and usher in a new mythology into the pantheon of comic book myth, consider donating today.

Devi

Campaign link: https://www.patreon.com/Devi?ty=h