200703150229While everyone is abuzz about the hard fighting Spartans, Eric Shanower is still digging in to the Trojan War in his epic and gorgeous (and meticulously researched) AGE OF BRONZE. This afternoon he even talks about it.

Award-winning cartoonist Eric Shanower will discuss Age of Bronze, his graphic novel retelling of the Trojan War, in his keynote speech for Illinois Wesleyan University’s Greek and Roman Studies Program on March 15 at 4 PM. In words and pictures Shanower will demonstrate how he uses both the literary and archaeological traditions to create a new version of the story for today’s readers.

The continuing graphic novel series, Age of Bronze, encompasses the complete story of the Trojan War, from the abduction of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, through the fall of Troy when the Greeks used the Wooden Horse to gain entrance to the city. Age of Bronze began publication in 1998 from Image Comics, Inc. Since then it has won major comic book industry awards, including the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist in both 2001 and 2003. The second volume of the series, Age of Bronze: Sacrifice, was selected as one of the Best Books of 2004 by the editors of Publishers Weekly. Last year, the Italian edition, titled La Eta del Bronzo, won the Gran Guinigi, the highest Italian comics award.

Shanower draws upon a wide variety of sources for Age of Bronze, to present what he hopes is a definitive version of the Trojan War story. The earliest versions of the Trojan War were The Iliad and The Odyssey, composed by Homer sometime around the 8th century BCE. These two epic poems formed the foundation of Western literature and have been famous for centuries around the world. Many of the greatest writers and artists in history have used Trojan War themes and episodes in their work — fleshing out the story, adding new characters and events, and retelling the ancient story in modern ways. These include the Roman poet Virgil, Chaucer, Shakespeare, James Joyce, and Eugene O’Neill, among many others. All these versions of the Trojan War story provide material for Age of Bronze.

In addition to written and artistic sources, Shanower also delves into the archaeology of Late Bronze Age Greece and the surrounding areas. Of particular interest is the ancient city of Troy itself. In the summer of 2006 Shanower traveled to the archaeological site for the first time. He spent eleven days in Troy and the surrounding area, sketching, photographing, and talking to the archaeologists currently digging at Troy. Says Shanower, “I was grateful for the opportunity to finally visit the place I’d been drawing for so many years. Hiking across the plain where Achilles and Hektor might have battled, standing on the ruins of the walls where Helen may once have stood was inspirational.”

Eric Shanower will be speaking about Troy and Age of Bronze on Thursday, March 15, at 4 PM at Illinois Wesleyan University, 1312 Park Street, Bloomington, IL 61701. The general public is welcome. There is no charge.