Black Odyssey – a truly European comic

Odissea Nera027Black Odyssey is a truly exceptional idea with beautiful design, terrific artwork and an absolutely shitty story.

Black Odyssey is told in three episodes (issues), each of which is presented in a different language. The first issue is presented in Italian with English and French translations beneath the panels (I hesitate to call them subtitles). The second issue is in English, with French and Italian translations. Issue three is in French (quel suprise) with the relevant translations.

Black-Odyssey-vol-1I absolutely loved the design of the comic and the artwork which, particularly in issue one and two, is sublime. Visually, this is a treat. Unfortunately the rest of comic is a mess. The English translation, at least, is poor and detracts from the minimal storyline that was crammed into the available space – most of which is taken up by design/concept.

As with a large percentage of non-professional translation projects what this needed was a final polish – I can only speak for the English version – by a native English speaker who is also a writer. In translation what is required is for not only the words to be converted, but also the style and the spirit of the piece. If you need an example then read anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – particularly Love in the Time of Cholera or One Hundred Years of Solitude – written in Spanish but translated into beautiful English that truly honoured the original rather than merely rendering the words into a foreign language.Black Odyssey vol 2

The story-line also presents major problems, for me at least. Black Odyssey is a retelling of the Odyssey (bet you guessed that already) but with Odysseus recast as a selfish, wandering villain, for no good reason that I can detect. It is also suffused with elements of soft porn, escalating by issue three – the art example presented is one of the few relevant spreads (no pun intended but it may serve as a hint as to what’s missing) that could be considered inoffensive to a general audience – into an excuse for drawing intimate body parts that service everything but the story (pun intended).

Issue Three

Issue Three

I wish I could heartily recommend this valiant effort but unfortunately it is fatally flawed, not by the adult content but by the story and translation.

Issue One: Marra . Cremonesi

Issue Two: Coelho . Sergi

Issue Three: Poncelet . Barone

Published by Passenger Press


About Bob Neilson

Bob Neilson lives in Dublin with his wife, two daughters, son, two dogs, one cat and a growing feeling of claustrophobia. In partnership with his wife he runs a successful retail business in Dublin city. His short fiction has appeared extensively in professional and small press markets and he has had two plays performed on RTE and one on Anna Livia FM. He also presented a radio show on Anna Livia for a year. He has had two short story collections published, Without Honour (1997, Aeon Press) and That’s Entertainment (2007, Elastic Press) as well as several comics and a graphic novel. His non-fiction book on the properties of crystals is a best-seller in the UK and Ireland.
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Black Odyssey – a truly European comic

  1. Thanx so much Bob, on next time I hope you could help us with translation ( seriously specking), do you mind? ^_^

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s