GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Kevin H. Dixon (illus.). Seven Stories. May 2018. 204p. tr. from Sumerian by Kent H. Dixon. ISBN 9781609807931. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781609807948. Rated: Teen+. LIT
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Uruk's bully-king Gilgamesh gets a gift from the gods: a strongman buddy to keep the randy young monarch out of trouble. It's bromance at first sight, and Gilgamesh and new sidekick Enkidu sally forth to kill an intestine-faced monster and chop down his forest. Each adventure leads to the next, but before long the goddess Ishtar sets a celestial bull on the lads since Gilgamesh has spurned her affections. The bull quickly succumbs to the warrior pals, yet soon Gilgamesh finds himself in the Underworld—and confronting mortality. Graphic narrative goes back to cave paintings, so it's fitting that comics retell the world's oldest surviving literary tale as adapted by scholar-translator Kent Dixon (contributor, The Graphic Canon), which spools out in cartoony, hyperhatched black-and-white drawings from son Kevin (…And Then There Was Rock), recalling Robert Crumb's creations crossed with The Simpsons and a sly homage to classic characters.
VERDICT This lively, compulsively readable rendition makes the irony, insight, and humor of the epic accessible and even fun. Humans haven't changed much in 5,000 years, a cautionary message for us all. For high school through adult readers who enjoy over-the-top quest stories.

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