Another fun day at camp! We started the day by reading a scene, in preparation of author George O’Connor’s visit, from his book Zeus: King of the Gods. The scene was about how the Olympians came full-grown out of their father Kronos the Titan’s mouth.
At 9:30, George O’Connor arrived and talked about his longstanding interest in Greek mythology and his love of drawing and comic books. He said that before learning about Greek mythology in 4th grade, he would always doodle giants fighting monsters so it was fun to actually learn formally about giants fighting monsters. He also discovered a love for comic books around that time. He always wanted to be an author and comic book writer and started his career writing picture books such as Kapow! and Ker-Splash! He recently decided to combine his love of Greek Mythology with his love of comic books to create the Olympians series, two of twelve of which (Zeus: King of the Gods and Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess) are currently available.
George took us through his writing and drawing process. He first researched and sketched a lot – at least a hundred sketches per character! His research included reading histories, The Odyssey, and other sources for myths to compare stories and choose how he would tell his version. He also visited museums and temples in Italy and sketched ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. George does not just use the Disney version of Greek mythology – he really knows his stuff! And, it seemed, so did a lot of campers, as we discussed many of the great characters and stories from Greek mythology today. George shared some early sketches of Zeus with us, which were often quite similar to the finished products, and some sneak previews of drawings for his coming books. After making clear ink drawings by hand, George colors in his books on the computer using Photoshop.
When he signed our books, as all the authors do at the end of their presentations, he did not just write his name, but also made a drawing for each camper next to his signature. Very cool!
We then headed off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Greek and Roman galleries. George took us around to certain sculptures, pointing out how the sculpture technique evolved and that the sculptures were originally painted (we even saw some barely visible paint on one relief!). One of his favorite sculptures is a lion that came from a neighborhood in Rome where he used to live. After wandering around a bit, we each chose a sculpture to sketch for a while, as George does for his research. George came around and gave suggestions and encouragement, and did some sketching himself.
After the Met, we had lunch in Central Park and had yet another game of Capture the Flag, or swung on the swings, or just relaxed (it was hot today!). We said goodbye to George and walked back to Symphony Space. Kudos again for staying with your counselors on field trips and not complaining in the heat! When we got back, we had quiet time for a while, and then read another Greek myth as a scene to end the day – this one was about Athena springing fully-formed from Zeus’s head!
We are looking forward to visiting the New York Public Library tomorrow with Polly Shulman, author of The Grimm Legacy. Remember water and a snack, just like today!