Comics about ancient history and mythology
I was under the impression that the history, culture, and mythology of ancient civilizations are universally regarded as a rich storehouse of stories, themes, and motifs that continue to provide inspiration for art and narratives across all media. I was therefore surprised to find out how little information I could find on the English-language web about comics, graphic novels, and mangas either set in antiquity or at least vaguely influenced by classical imagery.
The situation radically changed when I turned my attention to French websites. I was happy to learn that the tradition of Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées has produced a virtually endless variety of ancient-themed comics, in all possible styles and genres. This would be a paradise for a list-maker like myself if not for the awkward fact that I address my website to an English-speaking audience. For it turns out that only a shockingly small percentage of the highly praised French (and other mainland European) comics in this category have ever been officially translated into English! It gives me no joy to publish a list stocked with titles that currently cannot be read in English (unless one dares to venture into the grey area of fan-made “scanlations”). I can only hope that my work can do its small part to promote interest in getting these comics translated and published.
As can be glimpsed from the covers and titles featured on the list, ancient Rome (and especially the Roman Empire) appears to have the best PR when it comes to promoting its glory through the medium of comics. Ancient Greece occupies the second spot, but interestingly its representation in comics comes primarily from mythical and legendary themes, as relatively few of the Greek-themed comics are strictly historical. Personally, I would be happy to see more Egyptian and Biblical stories. During my research I also came upon several series inspired by even more “niche” ancient cultures (such as the Hittites, Mesopotamians, and Carthaginians), but unfortunately they weren’t popular enough to make the final cut.
I used my own discretion when it came to fantasy and science fiction tales influenced by ancient history and myths. Generally speaking, the only category I excluded outright was the urban fantasy genre, characterized by modern-day settings infused with mythical influences.
Note: At the time of writing, the publisher Europe Comics had pulled all of its digital releases from online retailers. As a result, the Amazon links to its publications are no longer active. I’m leaving them in place for the time being, hoping that this is only a temporary situation.