Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for George O'Connor

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2021 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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With Dionysos: The New God, author-artist George O’Connor completes his twelve-volume series on the Olympians. (I hear the Norse are next.)

1. What was your childhood go-to for a mythology fix? (D’Aulaires boy here.)

I also have a deep love for D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, which I think subconsciously influenced the Olympians. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology; Gods, Men & Monsters from the Greek Myths; and the original Clash of the Titans movie, horribly mythologically inaccurate though it is, were also big faves.

2. How can we use the power of alcohol for good?

As a kid I was befuddled by Dionysos. The other Olympians were in charge of BIG THINGS: war, the sea, fire. Now I understand his importance. The ancient Greeks saw Dionysos as a breaker of social norms, and his gift — wine — helped them break those barriers. Like anything so powerful, alcohol needs to be used in moderation, and it has a dark side. I was careful to reflect that double-edged sword.

3. What would you want to be the god of?

My first thought was that the good stuff was already taken and I’d have to pick social media or the internet; I wouldn’t want to be in charge of that! Actually, I’d like to be the god of space and time. I could go back to ancient Greece. Or maybe just be the god of dinosaurs. Eight-year-old George’s head just exploded at that idea!

4. What common misconception of comics would you like to clear up?

I’d love to see people stop referring to the writer as the sole “author” of a comic. Comics are often collaborative, with multiple creators adding their talents. Words and pictures combine to create an entirely new alchemy and tell a story in a way neither could accomplish on their own.

5. Okay, George, your pantheon is complete. Who was your favorite?

Hera, because I love the underdog and she gets a bad rap; and Hermes, the trickster. There’s so much of Greek mythology I haven’t covered yet, and, gods willing, I’ll be returning to retell these tales for years to come.

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Photo: Nicole Swift.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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