July 20, 2014

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Echo Chamber Stories from Recent Mythology by Corina Dross

Written and Illustrated by Corina Dross
Self-Published

Artist and author Corina Dross writes short stories inspired by a series of drawings she did for an art exhibition in 2012, where she recast friends into the roles of various Greek Myths. In this short literary zine, each drawing gets a short update on the myth from which it was based, blending together old and new in a great, short package that's highly recommended.

The Greek Myths are enduring not just because they make compelling reading, but because they are almost infinitely adaptable, whether it's a more traditional interpretation, the comic book worlds of Wonder Woman (DC) and Hercules (Marvel), mixed with young adult themes (Pullman's His Dark Materials), or used to create a new story set in the present day (such as Monica Gallagher's Gods and Undergrads).

But it takes talent to do that right, and Dross shows that her skills extend beyond just drawing portraits. Her prose here is engaging, fluid, and captures the essence of the original stories she's re-creating while forming something that is also her own.

From the opening story of Polytechnos, Aedon, and Eris, where the goddess of discord is called on by Hera to ruin the lives of mortals who dared to compare themselves to the gods to the closing flash piece where Paris is a clever waiter given the chance to be a new, beautiful self instead of just a lustful braggart, Dross shows she knows the core of the myths, which allows her to play and break as needed.

A perfect example of this is the micro-flash piece featuring Hermes, recast here as a roller-skating queer,* who drifts effortlessly between the complex words they inhabit. In only about 100 words plus the illustration, Dross creates a complete picture of a figure who is larger than life and invites envy from those less able to shift and change and be different things to different people.

None of the stories included here are very long--I doubt any even make it much past 1000 words--but they pack a lot of information. Each re-casting is imaginative and works perfectly, taking some of the fanciness out of the myths and making them more about people who could just be you and me.

It would be a shame to withhold comment on the art, which is equally impressive. Using a combination of thin lines and heavy shading, Dross captures her friends at various moments in time, whether it's sharing a silly expression, showing their victory over an unseen opponent (used for the Atalanta story, which subtly changes things to a battle for control of one's body and future), or a kiss frozen in time from lovers soon to be separated. They work almost like photographs in that way, but there's just enough roughness to the lines to give them a warmth you can't get in a picture.

I really enjoyed this one, and for once, it's a zine I know you can get a copy of! It's available in her Etsy store, complete with an excerpt. You can also see more of her artwork at her website. I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open for more work from her in the future.

*Okay, so yeah, that's naturally going to appeal to me. Deal with it.