If you enjoy Norse mythology, this may be a golden age for content. That not only includes Neil Gaiman’s excellent Norse entry for Dark Horse, but also the recently-released Lore of Hávamál by Cat Mihos. The new graphic novel explores the realm of Vikings and Nordic gods, and features Odin as a working bartender with many stories to tell.
Co-written by Ethan McQuerrey, and with art by Jouni Koponen, the story spans millennia (and realms) as the legendary Viking figures of Thor, Loki, and Fenrir oppose giants and steel themselves for the final battle of Ragnarok. Based on Icelandic Edda literature, the graphic novel also serves as a kind of historical record.
Given the history, the approach, and the rich stories available, there’s a lot to uncover. Mihos had the inside scoop as we touched base recently for an interview.
AIPT: When writing a story like this that is an interpretation of Icelandic Edda literature, do you ever find yourself getting stuck in the weeds of details?
Cat Mihos: It’s always possible, yes, to get bogged down on detail. Having Jouni Koponen there in Finland to fact check was invaluable.
AIPT: What is a detail someone might learn from Lore of the Havamal that did not know?
CM: My hope is that readers will take interest in the Norse myths and view the tales of the gods and goddesses in new ways. Each of the Havamal statements can apply to any living human and it’s a comfort to know how connected we all really are.
AIPT: When approaching the story and working with the artists, how close are you to working out clothing and materials used in the drawings?
CM: We did endless research. Jouni brought the accuracy to a higher level, and he really cares about the tiny details.
AIPT: What is it about myth that is so important to humanity? It seems to always come right back around!
CM: I will go back to my connection comment. I noticed, especially as we were in lockdown for the pandemic, that I felt the missing connection to the bigger community. There is a reason why we gather in big groups to share experiences like a concert or comic convention. Myth is a way to connect us all.
AIPT: Is it frustrating to see Thor represented and remembered as a Marvel hero rather than an actual character of myth?
CM: Not to me personally, as I grew up loving the Thor comics and all the different variations. It made me want to learn more about where the Norse myth came from. I have visited Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, and I have to thank those old comics for much of my inspiration to travel there. (It may frustrate Jouni though, having grown up in Finland with the alternating storylines!)
AIPT: Is there a page from this book you’re most proud of and most excited for readers to encounter?
CM: Great question! My love of ravens is all-encompassing, and I am so happy each time we see Odin’s trusty info-givers, Huginn and Muninn, I hope people will want to know more about these majestic birds. I also was in awe when Jouni sent me the pencils for the reveal of the giant wolf Fenrir — I literally gasped.
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