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God complex • Brooklyn Paper

God complex

Daddy’s angry: Clinton Hill Artist George O’Connor follows the tales of Greek gods and their family dramas, his latest book exploring the overprotective, but otherwise absentee father of many, Poseidon.
Photo courtesy of George O’Connor

The gods must be crazy — especially when it comes to family.

The eons-old tales of Greek deities remain relevant and riveting — and about as entertaining as an episode of Jerry Springer — thanks to a Clinton Hill artist who is penning graphic novels about the complex familial ties of Mount Olympus.

“They are, at heart, a group of stories about a dysfunctional family,” said the artist and writer George O’Conner, who will be appearing at the new Powerhouse on Eighth in Park Slope on April 6.

O’Connor’s latest book “Poseidon: Earth Shaker” portrays the icy-cold ocean god who grips a golden trident as a mostly absentee father who dotes on a few of his children, including Triton, Pegasus, Otus, and Ephialtes.

And when daddy plays favorites, watch out.

War hero Odysseus makes the mistake of blinding Polyphemos, son of Poseidon, incurring the wrath of the waters and losing his ship, his mates, and his general sense of direction — famously setting him adrift for years.

Then, in typical helicopter-parent fashion, Poseidon, tamer of horses, uses his godly influence to create an elaborate chain of events involving the slaying of the Minotaur in the Labyrinth, all so his son Theseus can sit on the throne of Athens.

And it’s not just the sons. What would Dr. Phil say about Poseidon’s long-running feud with his niece, Athena? Perhaps he’d call it progress that they were able to put aside their differences long enough to hatch a coup that literally brings the Earth-Shaker’s brother Zeus to his knees.

Did someone say family counseling?

“Everyone thinks of the gods as a way for people to explore and explain the world around them — lightning comes from Zeus, earthquakes from Poseidon,” said O’Connor.

“But the stories of the gods, with their very human trappings, feelings, and failings not only explained the natural world around them, not only entertained, but maybe also helped them to understand human nature as well.”

While O’Connor has set out to create something of a family album — “Poseidon” is the fifth book in the Olympians series, following “Zeus,” “Hera,” “Hades,” and “Athena” — the ancients didn’t make it easy for him to immortalize the gods in comic book-form. When he embarked on the books about Hades and Zeus, for example, he had to comb through the source material for clues, only to find that the Greeks were often reticent to describe the gods’ appearances.

“Maybe that’s because the gods are able to change shape,” said the author.

Poseidon did refer to himself as the ruler of boundless sea, creator of storms, and swallower of ships — so humble he wasn’t.

“He had long, dark, blue-green hair that looked like seaweed. We know that he had green eyes the color of the sea, and in some instances they even mention his skin as having a pallor like that of the sea,” O’Connor said.

“Working from that I designed the kind of buff handsome god that stars in my book.”

George O’Connor at Powerhouse on Eighth [111 Eighth Ave. between 11th and 12th streets in Park Slope, (718) 666–3049 x 102, www.powerhouseon8th.com]. April 6, 4 pm.

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