Pantheon: The True Story of the Egyptian Deities by Hamish Steele. Nobrow, 2017. 9781910620205. 216pp.
Gene: Pantheon! This sex-filled book you made me read. It’s all about the Egyptian gods, everything you wanted to know about them but were afraid to ask. It opens with the sun, Atum, in eternal darkess. Then he has a wank.
Sarah: The character drawings are the best in this book. I love them so much.
Gene: They’re all shown from the side, like they would appear on the walls of an Egyptian tomb. Crocodile people, bird-headed people. As with all nonfiction, I absorbed almost nothing, none of the names. I know Ra is in there, and Bast.
Sarah: Set is so great. His weird dog face is so expressive.
Gene: He looks weird to me because he has “rabbit” ears. This whole book is a little bit like watching an episode of Stargate. It’s cartoony. Kawaii Stargate, maybe?
Sarah: I took a class in Greek and Roman mythology in college. About half of these stories are about sex in some way, just like those. I was like Oh, yeah, they’re all about dicks.
Gene: Sex, gods fighting with each other…
Sarah: The dialogue is so casual and modern in a way makes the story way funnier, and carries you along on this crazy roller coaster of a plot, which makes no sense. Plus the fact that everyone is related, and all the betrayals and murders.
Gene: The dialogue is very literal. It’s often just what’s happening now. It’s anti-mythology. When killing takes place it’s very bloody but cartoony so it doesn’t matter. When Hathor becomes Ur, this giant, breasted, dog-headed, twin blade wielding devil goddess who just hacks people up….well, okay.
Sarah: I would not be as forgiving of the nonsensical plot except I know it’s from classical sources, so sure, things can jump all over the place.
Gene: Even back when I was really into mythology in grade school and middle school I could never find a good book on Egyptian mythology. And that was when the King Tut artifacts came to Seattle for the first time. I looked for a book, but I remember being bored to death with what I found. There was no Edith Hamilton version of Egyptian myths written for me. But if I had found this book as a teenage boy, I would have been off to the races (as my grandmother used to say). It would have opened this world for me.
Sarah: And I sort of hope there are kids who go from this age-inappropriate version to the “real” thing and become invested in this mythology.
Gene: What’s the main part of the book?…the weird thing where Pharaoh (Osiris) gets chopped up, Isis is trying to find the pieces to put him back together, and of course there’s something to do with his knob (sorry to spoil Egyptian mythology for anyone who hasn’t read it), they don’t find his penis…
Sarah: …they have to find a substitute….
Gene: …and strange things happen. This is the perfect middle school book on Egypt that no middle school is ever going to have.
Sarah: Right, which is why public libraries are important.
Gene: Would you put this in your YA section?
Sarah: I don’t think I could get away with that. But I will insist that our adult services librarian makes sure there is always a copy on the shelf.
Gene: I feel like I’ll find it in the kids graphic novel section in a bookstore because it looks like a kids book.
Sarah: It really does.
Gene: I’m the annoying bookstore customer who says I don’t think you want that there when I find books in the wrong place. The trick is to open the book in question to a page that makes the bookstore clerk gasp. But I don’t think I’ll do that in this case.
Sarah: Just leave it there.
Gene: What’s your takeaway on Egyptian mythology?
Sarah: It’s awesome.
Gene: My favorite page is the on “How to Mummify Your Friends with Annubis,” where he’s working on Osiris. It’s all kind of gross.
Sarah: For a story about wieners it’s amazing how much practical and philosophical information about the foundation of Egypt you can get out of it.