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SYFY WIRE Neil Gaimain

Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell bring ancient sagas to life in Norse Mythology #1

By Jeff Spry
norse hero

The legends and lore of ancient Norway enter the vivid realm of comics next month as New York Times bestselling fantasy author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, The Sandman) and Eisner Award-winning comics luminary P. Craig Russell raise a gleaming sword to heroic sagas spawned from the creation of the Nine Worlds in an epic Dark Horse adaptation of Gaiman's 2017 Norse Mythology novel.

This 18-issue ongoing series strikes Midgard on Oct. 7 with Norse Mythology #1, exploring the rousing origins of iconic god figures like Thor, Odin, and Loki ... all the way to the end of life known as Ragnarok. Here Gaiman unites with Russell to deliver readers into the turbulent lives of northern deities in their own operatic settings with this stirring comic book event. 

norse cover

To round out the creative clan, the series includes colors by Dave Stewart and Lovern Kindzierski, letters from Galen Showman, and interior artwork from a collective of talented artists including Jerry Ordway, Mike Mignola, and Russell himself. Main covers are courtesy of Russell, with illuminating variants offered by David Mack.

“I fell in love with the Norse gods from reading about them in comics as a boy, so it's only fitting that they return to the medium that started it,” Gaiman said in an official statement. “I cannot wait to see P. Craig Russell and his collaborators tell the old stories for a new generation.”

Norse Cover 2

Russell is intimately aware of Gaiman's popular prose works, having having written and drawn adaptations of CoralineSandman: The Dream Hunters, and Murder Mysteries, as well as collaborating with artist Scott Hampton (Spookhouse) for Dark Horse‘s three-volume adaptation of American Gods.

"The working relationship Neil and I have had for about 27 years now is he asks me if I’m interested in adapting project X based on one of his novels and I say yes I am," Russell tells SYFY WIRE. "Then I take his novel or short story and dissect it line by line. I reduce the text by 30 to 80 percent while simultaneously storyboarding it by drawing hundreds of tiny little pictures. Then I reconstruct it all treating each graphic story page somewhat like a stanza of a poem. If it works, the reader should have the impression that nothing is missing from the original text."

myth slice A

With a dozen artists, including Russell, doing the finished artwork over his layouts, there's a lot of email back and forth concerning character and setting design. And when it came to research, Russell is thankful for Google Images.

"Just this afternoon I was working on the penultimate chapter, The Last Days of Loki, in which at one point he transforms himself into a salmon," he adds. "I need reference for the anatomy and appearance of a salmon, so I type in ‘salmon’ and immediately get hundreds of pictures of salmon: filleted, grilled, and baked. So I try ‘salmon fish’ and there we are. I needed reference for the gaping mouth of a wolf as he lunges at the reader, so I typed in ‘mouth of a wolf’ and was linked to an Italian movie from 2010 called The Mouth of a Wolf, a movie about a prisoner and his transsexual lover waiting on the outside to reunite with him. So I typed in ‘the mouth of a wolf animal’ and there we are."

myth slice 1

The acclaimed artist considers the complexity of these Norse tales to be woven into the very fabric of humanity.

"I think we’d need a three-volume Jungian dissertation that explains and illuminates the psychology of archetypes and the collective unconscious to explain why these tales, just like those of Greek mythology, fairytales, and the Bible, endure and resonate so strongly with us no matter how sophisticated and rational we become. I’ll just say they’re ripping good yarns."

Now mount a charge into our exclusive preview of Dark Horse Comics' Norse Mythology #1 in the full gallery below.