I look forward to coming back to this image one day and congratulating myself for how far I’ve come. Still, I have to say, despite noseless Odysseus and alien baby Telemachos and any of the other flaws, I liked thinking about how to put this together. Let’s break this down a little.
First panel: “Your father never wanted to go.” Close-up on Telemachos, as he looks down over the island. When I’m a better artist, he’ll have a much more emotive face. He’s frustrated, bitter and resigned to doing nothing about the suitors overrunning his home and courting his unwilling mother. He’s certain his father is dead, and the rest of his family has given up too. His grandfather, Laertes, a king himself, spends his days ragged and sad on his farm, far away from everything. His grandmother, Anticleia, died of grief while her son was away. His mother, Penelope, spends her days in her room, sleeping, crying or weaving. Telemachos lives his life bullied, thinking he deserves better but without the confidence to make that happen himself.
Second panel: “But he did.” A view of the empty harbor. That blotch to the left is supposed to be the town. Ithaka is a society with virtually no men of age left. All the able fighters left with Odysseus for Troy, and are lost. All the nobles of the area are laying siege to Penelope’s bower, and are young themselves. I’m still trying to decide who is narrating these panels, whether it’s Penelope, who may blame her son, just a little, for their circumstance, or Eurykleia, Telemachos’ nursemaid, a slave who basically reared him and loves him dearly.
Third panel: “Great Agamemnon came for him himself. You were just a boy.” Flashback to Odysseus atop the same hill, spotting the black ships of Agamemnon, High King of Mycenae and brother to Menelaus, Helen’s cuckolded husband.
Fourth panel: “Your father wanted nothing to do with that war.” Baby Telemachos cradled in a woman’s arms. He looks like a prop from The X-Files; sorry about that. I had already inked it before I thought of a way to represent him as a toddler (holding onto a woman’s skirts, or leaning against a woman’s legs), which is, from what I remember, more approximately the age he is when Odysseus leaves.
Last summer I took a trip to the Mediterranean. We didn’t get to Greece, sadly, though we did fly over it (I saw the Acropolis from the air!). One of the highlights of the trip, and, if I’m honest, of my life so far, was hiking the trails through Cinque Terre, a series of cliffside villages in the Liguria region of northwest Italy. It’s not an exact match for Ithaka, but as I think on it now, some of the essentials are there.
This post brought to you from my very serious business work space and incredibly highbrow new Domo-kun notebook. It is a response to This item will give you talent! Now you see why I’m craving (though needlessly) a drafting table.