The Greek gods — they’re just like us

Etelka Lehoczky in NPR:

If you tend to click on those trend pieces telling us what Gen Z is up to (heck, who doesn’t?) you’ve probably heard that the kids today are very into nostalgia. We’re told that twentysomethings are playing first-gen video games, reminiscing about Beanie Babies and decorating their in grandmillenial style. If you needed further proof that a sentimental vibe is thrumming through the zeitgeist, you’ll find it in the smash hit webcomic Lore Olympus. Racking up hundreds of millions of views since its debut in March 2018, Rachel Smythe’s stylish creation has helped propel the Korean comics platform Webtoon to worldwide success practically overnight. Sure, aspects of Lore‘s style may look cutting-edge — it’s obviously created entirely on a digital drawing app, for one thing, with no pen and paper in sight. But its inner heart is as backwards-looking as floral upholstery and reruns of Friends.

Lore Olympus is a retelling of Greek myths, particularly the myth of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, king of the underworld. Persephone’s story dominates this book, which collects episodes 1-25 (the webcomic is now on episode 178). But though the Persephone-Hades relationship is at its center, Smythe ponders and plays with virtually every other god and mortal we know from ancient mythology. As such, the unspoken theme that lurks in Lore — and, when you think about it, lurks in any work that updates a classic story — is a conservative one. It’s the idea that, no matter how much society has changed, classic stories are still relevant. They still have plenty to tell us because we’re not, at bottom, all that different from the people who dreamed them up hundreds of years ago. This contention seems to suggest a rather depressing corollary, though: Maybe those classic stories aren’t just relevant, they’re sufficient. Why do we need new stories at all? We’re still the same people.’

More here.