Why you should drop everything and start reading ‘Lore Olympus’

You don't have to be a fan of Greek mythology to enjoy 'Lore Olympus.' (But if you are, it's a bonus.)

Feb 26, 2020, 10:13 am*

Internet Culture

Nahila Bonfiglio 

Nahila Bonfiglio

Lore Olympus

Rachel Smythe/Lore Olympus

There are a lot of great webcomics out there.

I’ve written an entire article on them, in fact.

But that article was polished off and published mere weeks before I began Rachel Smythe‘s captivating Lore Olympus. Published on Webtoon—one of the internet’s largest webcomic publishing portals—the series has rocketed to massive popularity over its nearly two-year run on the service. An absolute gem of a series, Lore Olympus is a deconstruction of the classic Greek myth, ‘The Abduction of Persephone.”

This engrossing love story is retold with a delightful modern twist. It is all the more stunning for its stellar art style, engaging characters, and enchanting romance. If you aren’t already reading it, you should be.

What is Lore Olympus?

Launched in March 2018 on Webtoon, Lore Olympus is a creative and fresh approach to the classic Greek myth. Rachel Smythe, the artist and author behind the series, deconstructed the original tale and reshaped it into something sexy, contemporary and enchanting. The story takes a much harsher and more problematic story, sometimes referred to as “The Rape of Persephone,” and makes it into something entirely new. Hades is reimagined as a suave, damaged businessman whose familial struggles and dog obsession will entice most any reader. Persephone, on the other hand, is a naive, warmhearted newcomer to the busy Olympian life, caught up in the search for her independence. The story follows the duo and their bewitching love story. It completely reimagines the original myth with the added complications of politics, status, and a lingering secret.

Lore Olympus - Perse and Minthe Rachel Smythe/Lore Olympus

There are many reasons to read Lore Olympus, but the simplest is to see Smythe’s brilliant take on the myth. Her story is flawlessly enthralling, heartwarming, and painful. The characters confront timeless issues through a modern lens, breaking down the romanticization of rape and abduction with grace and intrigue. Smythe updates the series every Sunday, and new readers will find themselves awaiting that notification with bated breath.

The characters

You don’t have to be a fan of Greek mythology to enjoy Lore Olympus. In fact, you don’t need to know anything about the original story—or the characters—to understand Smythe’s take on the tale. (Though readers with a solid background in the original myths will have a leg-up on newcomers.) While Persephone and Hades are the linchpins of the story, there are loads of other mythological powerhouses sprinkled throughout.

Lore Olympus - Zeus, Poseidon and Hades Rachel Smythe/Lore Olympus

Hades’ brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, are always a delight when they grace a comic with their presence. Smythe’s characterization of Zeus as an excessive but painfully recognizable adulterer will hit home for many viewers. Poseidon’s goofy, background role paints the character in a whole new light. The same can be said for all the favorites: Hera, Artemis, Aphrodite, Ares—even Apollo. Each new character Smythe adds to her story feels like a memory of their old, vengeful versions, replaced with the gust of fresh air that Smythe breathes into every page of her creation.

The art

Smythe’s stunning art is nearly as enticing as the characters and storyline of Lore Olympus. Her captivating way of telling her tale often involves carefully considered colors, panels completely without words and even—sometimes—music. Fans of her comic will quickly find themselves dreaming of a hard copy version. That way, they can flip through her beautiful visuals long after the story is complete.

Rachel Smythe/Lore Olympus

Careful consideration of light and dark play a big part in how Lore Olympus is presented. Hades is always depicted in dark colors—blues, purples, and blacks—that match his setting. The underworld is likewise illustrated in dark hues, making Persephone and all of her bold, bright colors pop even more. Each of the characters is represented by a different color—though some share colors—that match their personality, lore and background. This careful use of color and texture often communicate more than the words Smythe writes. Her watercolor-esque style marries flawlessly with the whimsical nature of her stories. In the comic’s heavier moments, however, the art takes on darker tones, colors, and themes.

The future of Lore Olympus

There is a tantalizing rumor out there that Lore Olympus is set to be adapted into an animated series aimed at young adults. Both Deadline and Screen Rant have reported on the possibility. According to these reports, Webtoons is partnering with the Jim Henson Company to create an animated tv series.

I can’t independently confirm any of these possibilities, and unfortunately, Smythe did not respond to my requests for an interview. I understand, she is a busy woman and just like her other fans, I want her working away on this week’s update. For now, we will have to rely on reports and pray that the rumors are true.

Lore Olympus - Artemis Rachel Smythe/Lore Olympus

If the rumors are in fact true, the partnership will be Webtoon’s first adaptation deal since 2014, according to Deadline. Ashley Griffs, Henson’s executive director of television, will lead the project. “At Henson, we love stories that inspire, both artistically and intellectually, and Webtoon’s Lore Olympus does both,” she said of the project. “Rachel Smythe’s new take on mythology and innovative design, with a unique female perspective, makes this project perfect for today’s young adults. The world of Lore Olympus is a welcome part of the Henson tradition of exceptional fantasy storytelling.” It is currently unclear how big of a role Smythe will have in the adaptation.

Regardless of its potential future as an animated seriesLore Olympus is going strong. There is still much to tell of Hades and Persephone’s story, and that is not to mention the side plots Smythe has expertly planted. Readers would continue flocking to the comic, or potential spin-offs, for Artemis, Eros, Ares and the rest of the cast long after Hades and Persephone’s story ends.

If you are enjoying Smythe’s comic and are looking to support it, you can do so through her Patreon.

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*First Published: Feb 21, 2020, 6:27 pm