Nir Levie (Outskirts of Vision, Mycelium Seep), the 2023 Inkwell Awards ALL-IN-ONE winner (“Bio Ripple”/Heavy Metal), has unveiled his latest masterpiece: Age of Canaan. This 160-page graphic novel immerses readers in the epic of the gods of Canaan as they navigate celestial warfare and grapple with profound moral dilemmas. It is crowdfunding through March 28 on Zoop

Levie spoke to The Beat about what inspired him to create his graphic novel Age of Canaan, how it differs from other comics based on ancient myths, and more.

DIEGO HIGUERA: What inspired you to create the Age of Canaan?

NIR LEVIE: The Age of Canaan began as a curious exploration into lesser-known narratives from my Jewish heritage. These stories, often overshadowed by more prominent tales, intrigued me with their themes of resilience and identity. As I delved deeper, I felt a growing connection to these narratives, not only as a storyteller but also as someone eager to share them with a wider audience.

HIGUERA: How do you describe the book’s storytelling vision?

LEVIE: The vision for Age of Canaan‘s storytelling is to reimagine ancient myths through a modern lens. It’s about taking these timeless tales and presenting them in a visually captivating format that resonates with contemporary audiences. By infusing these stories with fresh perspectives and modern sensibilities, I aim to highlight their universal themes and show how they still hold relevance and meaning today.

In essence, Age of Canaan celebrates the enduring power of myth and storytelling. It’s a journey into a world where the past and present intertwine, where ancient stories are revitalized for a new generation. Through this project, I hope to entertain readers and inspire them to explore their cultural heritage and the timeless stories that connect us all.

Pink Goat, with text that reads "Age of Canaan"
Photo: Nir Levie

HIGUERA: What separates the characters in this story from other mythological stories?

LEVIE: The characters in Age of Canaan differ from those in other mythological stories by being portrayed in a more nuanced and negative light. While traditional mythological heroes are often depicted as positive figures, my approach is to present them in a more complex and morally ambiguous way.

In many ancient myths, heroes are typically described as great strength, courage, and virtue figures. They are often kings or rulers, gods or demigods, who embark on epic quests or journeys to achieve greatness or overcome adversity. These stories, such as those found in the Iliad, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Bible, have been passed down through generations and are deeply connected in their essence, often reflecting the hero’s journey archetype.

However, I believe that behind the façade of these heroic figures lies a darker truth. I see these stories as a way for rulers to establish their strength and ensure their legacy. They may have been written or embellished by the rulers, portraying them as virtuous and heroic to secure their place in history. In reality, no one with such power is innocent; they are likely to be egoistic individuals with a strong desire to rule, willing to do dark things to maintain their power.

In Age of Canaan, I depicted these characters in a more negative light, offering a modern interpretation of these ancient myths. I also chose to highlight a minor character as the story’s true hero, revealing their importance subtly and understatedly. This approach allows me to explore the complexities of power, legacy, and heroism in a way that is both engaging and thought-provoking.

Pink and yellow hawk face with black beak, in the eyes, there is a man

HIGUERA: How do your drawing style, influences, and techniques contribute to the storytelling?

LEVIE: In crafting Age of Canaan, my artistic aim is to immerse readers in a world steeped in ancient mythology and historical authenticity. To achieve this, I draw upon the techniques of artists renowned for conveying deep emotion and narrative complexity.

For instance, I traveled to Greece to study the intricate black figures on pottery, using this historical research to infuse my work with realism. Additionally, I found inspiration in the art of E.M. Lilien, a Jewish illustrator from the art nouveau movement, whose work helped me bring a unique depth to the characters and settings of Age of Canaan.

While creating the graphic novel, I also explored new avenues of storytelling by writing a short story for Humanoids. This led me to discover the work of R.S. Sherriffs, a caricaturist and cartoonist whose style profoundly impacted my storytelling approach. This newfound influence subtly shifted my artistic style, adding a layer of complexity to the pages of Age of Canaan.

I believe the creative process should be evident in the final work, and I embrace the evolution of my style throughout the graphic novel. By using composition, lighting, and color to enhance the mood and atmosphere of the story, I aim to draw readers further into the world of Age of Canaan, creating a visually and emotionally resonant storytelling experience that is both captivating and meaningful.

HIGUERA: What were your insights into the creative process behind the Age of Canaan?

LEVIE: Through the creative process of Age of Canaan, I gained valuable insights into storytelling techniques that have enhanced my approach to adapting existing stories into comics. One key lesson was learning to pace my story more effectively, ensuring that each scene and narrative beat flowed naturally and kept readers engaged.

Another important insight was transitioning from epic storytelling to more mundane, intimate moments. This involved finding the right balance between grand, sweeping narratives and quiet, personal moments to create a story that feels both epic in scope and deeply human in its portrayal of characters and emotions.

Additionally, I learned the importance of effectively describing and conveying these intimate moments in storytelling. This meant focusing on the subtle details of character interactions, body language, and facial expressions to convey emotions and relationships in an authentic and impactful way.

Furthermore, I developed a method to write complexity into my scripts, delving deeper into the themes and meaning of the story while crafting a core plot, worldbuilding, and character backstories. I learned to do this in a way that stays true to the framework of the original text, adding layers of depth and richness to the narrative. Overall, the creative process behind Age of Canaan has taught me valuable lessons in storytelling that have deepened my understanding of the craft and improved my ability to tell compelling stories in comic form.

Two page spread from Age of Canaan

HIGUERA: What message or takeaway do you hope readers will get from Age of Canaan?

LEVIE: Age of Canaan delves into the dynamics of rulership, contrasting empathetic governance with self-serving rule, a theme that echoes today’s political landscape. It reflects the timeless struggle between leaders prioritizing their people’s well-being and those pursuing personal gain and power. This narrative resonates with contemporary politics, providing insight into the complexities of leadership and governance.

Additionally, the graphic novel underscores the profound connection between humanity and nature. It portrays the Canaanite society’s deep respect for the natural world, incorporating elements like farming, animals, and seasonal changes. This portrayal serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of environmental preservation, particularly relevant in today’s world where conservation and sustainability are pressing issues.

Age of Canaan explores the human experience, blending mythological themes with poignant reflections on passion, fertility, and moral dilemmas. Through celestial warfare and ancient moral quandaries, the graphic novel delves into the complexities of human emotion and the eternal struggle between opposing forces in life. It serves as a reminder of the enduring relevance of ancient stories in understanding the intricacies of the human condition and the timeless battles we face within ourselves.

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