Ancient Olympics Comic

Note of Tassos Apostolides, writer of the Ancient Olympic Games Comic

26 Mar 2014
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When Leftreris Ntouranidis, publisher and an old friend asked me to write a script about the ancient Olympic Games, he awakened in me the teacher more than the writer.

Even though I knew well -from my previous works- about the classical Greece, the place so as the time, I studied a lot: Pausanias, Pindar and modern scholars who had dealt with this subject: Anna Maranti, Xeni Arapogianni, Panos Valavanis, Giannis Mouratidis, Ellie Emke, Richard Wolf, Chris Oxlade, David Balheimer, Furio Durando etc.

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Huge and interesting material and also a great call.
The mythology and the history concerning the ancient Olympic Games.
The establishment of the games and the connection with the worship of Dodecatheon.
Contests with a wreath and not money as the award.
Permanent host city, Elis and place of the ancient Olympic Games ancient Olympia.
The Sacred Truce.
The Hellanodikes. The sports rules of the ancient Olympic Games.
The power, the character, the moral and the behavior of the athletes.
The training with the music accompaniment.
The diet, the workouts, the massage, the stlegis.
The trainers’ role.
The ancient guides and the alytes (the police of the time).
The boys and the men’s sports (Racing, Diaulos race, Dolichos, Boxing, Wrestling, Pentathlon, Pankration, Hoplitis race, Horse-racing, Chariot-racing)
In addition, the country fair that was taking place every night after the contests around and out of the sacred places of the ancient Olympic Games, where peddlers trumpeted their merchandise, moneychangers exchanged currencies, poets recited, orators made speeches, jugglers - acrobats - musicians - dancers - actors took part in outdoor performances.
In the sports grounds the hysplex, the ankyle, the taraxippos...
Next to the Sacred Altis the altars, the statues, the “Treasuries”, the temple of Hera and the majestic temple of Zeus with the statue of god made of gold and ivory, the buildings...
Nearby the rivers Alpheus and Kladeos and northwards the Cronion (sacred hill).
A whole bunch of information, stories, myths, heroes, renowned athletes. My first notes were over 600 pages! I panicked! This job would never end! Exaggerations: it was finished within two years!

I chose to set the myth during the 87th Olympiad and this was on purpose: in 432 B.C. the cities of Greece still taste the joy of victory in the Persian wars and the economic benefits that derived from them. Athens of Pericles was making history in the "Golden Age" and the disastrous Peloponnesian civil war hadn’t yet begun.

In order to escape from the documentary recording, to make the reading more interesting, and mainly to put into practice the comic terms in the storytelling, the progress of the myth and the action of the heroes I made up a dramatized story and I gave the necessary information and descriptions through that. The tender story of Kallias and Lydia is just an excuse to live closely the 87th ancient Olympic Games. Apart from the organization and the conduct of the games, the political and historical environment of the era is also described with documented references.

Through vivid storytelling, sense of humor and surprises that keep continuously the interest of the reader and also though the excellent designs, the book firstly takes us to Elis, the host city of the ancient Olympic Games and then to the Sacred Altis of Olympia with its great buildings (The Temples of Zeus and Hera, the Treasuries, the Prytaneion, the workshop of Pheidias etc.) and gives us the opportunity to live as real spectators the ancient Olympic Games. Along with the really interesting action, we attend the religious ceremonies, the cultural events, the trade activities and many other life aspects of the people of that time. The representation of the places, the clothes and the buildings is realistic relying faithfully on the existing information (historic, dressing, architectural etc.)The number of historical and social information makes the book an excellent tool for teachers and students, and for those who want to enrich their Olympic Education as well.

An emphasized point in the comic is the “Olympic Spirit” that includes the fair play, the volunteering, the constant effort, the selfless victory (dedicated to the homeland), the encouragement to the person to use the power hidden inside him that along with the patience, the perseverance and the exercise will lead him to the final goal. The goal that each one sets for himself and he makes it real through the victory.

The ancient Olympic Games comic was translated and is also available in English and German, to address people from foreign countries in order to transmit them the values and the culture of ancient Greece and the message of the ancient Olympic Games. Besides, foreign language versions can also be used by teachers in schools or institutes of foreign languages as a pleasant additional material.

In this job I was lucky to work with amazing artists. First of all, I worked with the designer Nassos Vakalis. Nassos, having worked in Warner Bros, in Paramount, in Columbia, in Dreamworks with Spielberg, professor at the California Institute of the Arts, worked about 2 months in Greece -close to us- and then he returned to America, so we continued working together from a distance!
The project had also the good fortune to be translated really well into English by Ellie Emke and German by Nikos Papadopoulos.
I thank them all, once again, mainly because they worked with passion, moral and attention to detail.

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