AUTHOR COMMENTARY ON THE COMIC BOOK,
SOME NEW KIND OF SLAUGHTER
~ A. David Lewis ~
This page shows Noah realizing for the first time that he is receiving a message from God. Marv catches a wonderful mix of expressions here, from Noah’s being pleasantly dumbstruck to shocked to disturbed. All this suggests that God never spoke directly to Noah before or that he never previously recognized it. I gave Noah dialogue here where, nicely, “My God” doubles as both his identifying the voice only he hears and being rocked by its message. The reader already knows the answer of “W-what’s coming?”
~Or~ Lost in the Flood (and How We Found Home Again): Diluvian Myths from Around the World by mpMann & A. David Lewis, Archaia Pulishers.
If there is one constant throughout most of Earth’s historical nations, cultures, and religions, it is the threat and the destruction of the Great Flood. In the wake of the recent Indian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and alarm over global warming, the award-winning creators of The Lone and Level Sands return to plumb the depths of the world’s great myths with this all-ages book, exploring how this legendary fear may be more relevant now than ever before.
Here A. David Lewis talks through some of his favorite illustrations:
Really, the focus of this scene is on the sons of Noah, their various perspectives and anxieties. However, the backdrop is also significant, highlighting Noah’s own attempts at preaching to the population of the local town. (Presumably, as noted elsewhere in the book, Noah’s daughters-in-law came from the nearby populace, so his family could not have been totally disconnected from them.) Much of Noah’s language here comes from the Qur’an, in fact, as does the populace’s reactions to him.
Og makes his first appearance here, and it’s for two purposes. First, the townspeople near Noah hadn’t yet shown any actions that might have explained God’s displeasure with humanity. So, using two generic baddies (“Mag” and “Enoch,” an allusion to another unexplained biblical figure God favored, though this is not the man himself, of course) absconding a woman certainly conveys some level of social depravity at hand. It also gives Og a chance to demonstrate, despite his size and shocking appearance, his good intentions and basic morality; when he does fully reveal himself to Noah’s family on page 55 (carrying both the Book of Raziel and the remains of Adam), their alarm is understandable, but the reader needn’t share it.
This was one of my favorite pages to write, since it explores the flipside to the biblical account—how the local citizenry might have construed the actions of Noah’s family. Planted in the scene is Noah’s youngest son listening to the misgivings the people have of his father’s mysterious approach. Their speculation that Noah communes with “the Dark One” (aka Satan) comes from some alternate Jewish folklore and rabbinical exegesis, giving an rationale for the perils of wine and drunkenness. This scene also accounts for the possibility that other families warmed to Noah’s message and joined his people aboard the Ark.
Based on early clips from Aronofsky’s Noah, this attack upon the Ark seems a point at which the film’s account and the graphic novel’s likely overlap. Though Genesis doesn’t mention any battle necessarily, it seems only a logical result: When Noah’s long-warned disaster begins coming true, what else are desperate people—particularly those of a morality questionable enough to dismay God—likely to do? Include Og in the picture, and the giant suddenly seems like the Ark’s best line of defense.
For me, this is the emotional core to our graphic novel. Again taken from the Qur’an, one of Noah’s sons stands with the townspeople, believing they, too, are due clemency. Since it couldn’t be one of the sons named as boarding the Ark and repopulating the earth, we felt this was the perfect slot and conclusion to the character arc (no pun intended) of the curious Canaan character. His death as a result as a principled stand would lay the foundation for what later would prompt Noah to curse family members. (After the Flood, we have Ham/Khem name his newborn son after his lost brother.) To add to the interpretive legerdemain we’re employing here, Marv and I also slipped in a bit of mischievous intertextuality by having Canaan nearly quote Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “November Rain”; we threaded all sorts of song lyrics throughout the book to underscore a blended, mixed history for the various myths that appeared.
All sorts of explanation has been given for why Noah cursed Ham/Khem’s line for having been seen “naked.” They range from the extremely prudish (i.e. literally, being seen in the nude was abhorrent) to the horrific (i.e. incest and rape between father and son). In addition to giving Noah’s wife Naamah her own spotlight—admittedly, spent discussing her husband and little of herself—our explanation for Noah’s rage and curse is offered: impotency. Combined with both the gnawing guilt of his son’s sacrifice and his surviving family’s quiet shame, this ‘exposure’ of Noah’s shame felt sadly fitting and raw.